Posted 07-11-2003 at 10:43:56
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Biography of Benjamin Franklin
Written by Stephen S; Portrait by Ryan D.
Benjamin Franklin was born to a family of 12 other people. He was born in Boston in January, 1706. He had many friends and his father was a candlemaker.
Benjamin and his friends played lots of different games. One day Benjamin and his friends saw a pile of rocks that some workers were using. When the workers went home, Benjamin said, "Let's use these to make a wharf!" One of Benjamin's friends said that they shouldn't do that because it would be wrong to take the rocks. But, they did it anyway and built a wharf. The next day when the workers saw them playing on the rocks, they told the parents and Benjamin and his friends got in trouble. They had to move all the rocks back and it was hard work.
Ben loved to read, but his father had very few books. When he was seven years old, he wrote his first poem. From this his father decided to send him to Boston grammar school. He took Latin there. He left grammar school in less than a year and went to Mr. Brownell's School for Writing and Arithmetic. He learned to write there, but he failed in math. When Ben left that school he taught arithmetic to himself.
When Benjamin was 12, his brother James had just come back from England, where he studied printing. His brother set up a printing shop, which Benjamin was apprenticed at. Ben signed a paper saying he would be an apprentice until he was 21 years old and that James would provide him food, a place to sleep and teach him printing. He was not to earn wages until his last year in apprenticeship. Ben was often beaten by his brother, so Ben ran away one October morning and boarded a ship bound for New York.
As soon as he got to New York, Ben applied for a job to William Bradford, the only printer in New York. But Mr. Bradford said that business was terrible and he already had too much help. But Mr. Bradford said he had a son in Philadelphia who had a printing shop and that his son needed some help. Ben decided to make the long, hard trip to Philadelphia. He boarded a ferry to Perth Amboy. When he got there, he discovered he had to walk 50 miles to get to Burlington to get another boat to Philadelphia.
When he arrived in Burlington, he heard somebody say, "Gingerbread, hot gingerbread!" He felt starved. He bought some. Later when Ben found out the boat he was to take had already sailed, the gingerbread lady offered him a free stay at her house until the next boat left. Ben was very thankful.
Then, he was finally in Philadelphia. As soon as he got there, he walked into a local bakery to buy a biscuit, which in Boston was three pennies. But the baker said they didn't have any of that. So Ben said to just give him three pennies worth of bread. The baker gave him three enormous puffy rolls. Ben was flabbergasted because he had gotten so much for so little money.
Ben went to Mr. Bradford in Philadelphia, but he had already hired somebody. He told Ben to go to Mr. Keimer. Mr. Keimer hired Ben and he began to earn real wages. Ben became good friends with the governor of Philadelphia who encouraged him to open his own printing shop, but Ben did not have the money.
Ben was fired from his printing job, but then met Hugh Meredith, who had enough funds so that he and Ben could go into business with their own print shop. As soon as their equipment was in, they started to make a newspaper called The Gazette. Andrew Bradford who had originally turned down Ben was the official printer of the colony of Pennsylvania. In only two years of their business, they took that responsibility away from Mr. Bradford and became the colony's chief printers.
Ben also wrote and published Poor Richard 's Almanac. This brought him money. The book was very popular and Ben made a lot of money off of it.
Ben was a good citizen. He organized the volunteer fire department, founded the first circulating library, and he cofounded one of the first hospitals. He also founded the Pennsylvania militia and came up with the idea of paper money. Ben invented the lightning rod and the Franklin heating system. He became postmaster and he advocated the first paved streets and installed a street cleaning system. Ben was a member of the Continental Congress - he was also the oldest member. He was the one who first thought of the union of 13 colonies.
Ben was given honorary degrees by Harvard, Yale and William and Mary. He was very famous in France, which is where he was an ambassador for nine years. He retired and died at home at the age of 79.
Ben was a hard worker and had many accomplishments! He was an important person in our country's history and without him, America would not have developed as quickly.
I was surprised to find out that he invented the harmonica and that he was more famous in France than in America. In France, he was as famous as Princess Diana. Almost everybody had a picture of him in their house and almost every night he was invited to a rich person's party. He was good friends with King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
Ben did all of this despite a rough childhood, where he was poor and had many brothers and sisters. Ben was even beaten by his older brother James, when he was apprenticed to him.
When Ben ran away, that was dangerous and stupid. He could have gotten robbed or he could have starved to death. He should have talked to his father about being in candle company instead of James' printing company.
Cousins, Margaret. Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, New York: Random House, 1952.