08 December 2009

Ben Franklin - Publisher

"If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing." Having followed his own words of wisdom, Benjamin Franklin made an everlasting mark on America.

At around twelve years of age Franklin was persuaded to become a printing apprentice of his brother James until the age of twenty-one. While working as an apprentice Franklin was eager to have some of his writing published in his brother's newspaper, and knowing that his brother would not publish anything of his, Franklin wrote anonymous letters and delivered them to the printing house at night. Many of his letters were printed before he finally revealed that he had been submitting the anonymous letters.

Later on, differences arose between Benjamin and his brother James that caused Ben to run away to New York and then Philadelphia in search of a printing job. After a little searching, and a little help from another printer's father, Franklin found work at Keimer's printing house. Through his acquaintances Franklin managed to get support from the governor, but not his father, to set up a printing shop; all this and he wasn't even twenty-one years of age! However, when he went to London to pick up printing supplies he discovered that the governor whom he thought supported him had lied to him about setting up a printing shop. Having found this out, he searched for and found work at a famous printing house in London. Franklin stayed in London for eighteen months before heading back to Pennsylvania.

Shortly after his return, Franklin once again found work at Keimer's printing house. Shortly after that, Franklin and a fellow employee planned to open up their own printing shop in Philadelphia. Once they received the proper equipment from London they set up shop in a house near the market. Thus began an enterprise that Franklin was very fond and proud of and ultimately made him very well known throughout the colonies. Without Franklin's hard work and sincere dedication, his business would not have flourished like it did. Franklin's dedication was best summed up by an acquaintance of his, Dr. Baird: "For the industry of that Franklin is superior to any thing I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed."

Throughout the rest of his life Franklin contributed much to society. Among his many contributions were a public subscription library, numerous published works including his newspapers, pamphlets, and Poor Richard's Almanac, the American Philosophical Society, his help drafting the Declaration of Independence, and the list goes on.  Few publishers since have had such an influence on so many people.  He was so beloved, even in his own time, that over 20,000 mourners attended his funeral.

* Image Copyright 1996-2009 Archiving Early America®.

“Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History.” Web. 8 Dec 2009.

Farand, Max. The Autobiography of Bejamin Franklin, A Restoration of a Fair Copy. 1949. Print.