Thursday, January 17, 2013

Young #Benjamin #Franklin

Benjamin Franklin
Public Domain

January 17

Kid Inventor's 

Happy Kid Inventor's Day. Every year 500,000 children and teens invent gadgets and games. Without child inventors we would not have the television, popsickle, ear muffs, water skis and more. Today we honor our child inventors and encourage our youth to use their imagination to make this world a better place. Kid Inventor's Day is celebreated annually on the anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birth because he was a child inventor. He invented swim flippers when he was 12 years old! 

The National Gallery for America's Young Inventors ™is a nationally recognized museum that honors child inventors whose ideas hold the potential to postively impacted American society. You can learn more about them at

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706 to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folge in Boston, Massachuetts. 

Josiah Franklin (December 23, 1657 - January 16, 1745) and his first wife, Anne Child, had married in England had immigrated from England with wife and their three children, in 1682. Josiah moved his family to Boston where he became a tallow chandler and soap boiler. While there, Anne gave him four more children;  Josiah Jr., Ann, Joseph (I), and Joseph (II). The first Joseph lived for less than a week. It was common practice for families to recycle a name. On June 30, Anne gave birth to her seventh child. The couple named him Joseph. Yet as fate would have it mother and son would perish. Joseph had been born on June 30, 1689 and died July 15, 1689. He was preceeded in death by his mother who had died from childbirth complications on July 9, 1689. 

Josiah needed a mother for his five children and he found one in Abiah Folger. Abiah had been born in Nantucket, Massachuetts. She was the daughter of Peter and Mary Folger. Peter was a sewer, schoolmaster, a miller and a surveyor. Josiah married Abiah at the Old South Church in November of 1689. The couple added ten children to the marriage; John (1690), Peter (1692), Mary (1694), James (1697), Sarah (1699), Ebenezer (1701), Thomas (1703), Benjamin (1706), Lydia (1708), and Jane (1712). 

A Young Benjamin Franklin
Josiah had planned for Benjamin to enter the clergy but Josiah only had the funds to send Benjamin to school for a year. Clergy needed years of school. When Benjamin was ten years old his father withdrew him from a formal education. Benjamin continued to learn though through books. He taught himself how to properly use the English language by memorizing sections of book. Yougn Benjamin craved the written word but his family couldn't afford to buy young Benjamin books. So Benajmin had an idea. He would ask his older brothers for money so he could buy his own food then by eating very little he would use the extra funds to buy his books. Benjamin stayed up late every night devouring his treasures. 

Silence DoGood

His family had noticed his hunger for the written word. Josiah agreed for Benjamin to become an apprentice under his older brother, James Franklin. James owned a printing press. Benjamin was twelve years old when he started his apprenticeship. He loved it. James taught Benjamin everything he needed to know about printing. Benjamin would help his brother with the type set, compose pamphlets and then sell them in street after they had been printed. Three years later, James started the first real newspaper in Boston. Known as the The New England Courant, the paper contained opinion pieces written by James's friends, articles, news of ship schedules and advertisements. Benjamin had felt his English was good enough to be published in a newspaper. He asked his brother if he could write some articles for the paper as well. James denied his fifteen year old brother's request. Franklin didn't give up, though. He had a plan. 

Benjamin would stay up late at night writing articles and then signing them under the psudonoym, Silence Dogood. He would then sneak them under the door of his brother's shop late at night. His brother loved the articles. Benjamin was very creative with his Silence Dogood persona and created a very indepth character. This is passages from his first letter that explain who Silence is. 
At the time of my Birth, my Parents were on Ship-board in their Way from London to N. England. My Entrance into this troublesome World was attended with the Death of my Father, a Misfortune, which tho' I was not then capable of knowing, I shall never be able to forget; for as he, poor Man, stood upon the Deck rejoycing at my Birth, a merciless Wave entred the Ship, and in one Moment carry'd him beyond Reprieve. Thus was the first Day which I saw, the last that was seen by my Father; and thus was my disconsolate Mother at once made both a Parent and a Widow.

One of Franklin's DoGood Letters
When we arrived at Boston (which was not long after) I was put to Nurse in a Country Place, at a small Distance from the Town, where I went to School, and past my Infancy and Childhood in Vanity and Idleness, until I was bound out Apprentice, that I might no longer be a Charge to my Indigent Mother, who was put to hard Shifts for a Living.
My Master was a Country Minister, a pious good-natur'd young Man, & a Batchelor: He labour'd with all his Might to instil vertuous and godly Principles into my tender Soul, well knowing that it was the most suitable Time to make deep and lasting Impressions on the Mind, while it was yet untainted with Vice, free and unbiass'd. He endeavour'd that I might be instructed in all that Knowledge and Learning which is necessary for our Sex, and deny'd me no Accomplishment that could possibly be attained in a Country Place; such as all Sorts of Needle-Work, Writing, Arithmetick, &c. and observing that I took a more than ordinary Delight in reading ingenious Books, he gave me the free Use of his Library, which tho' it was but small, yet it was well chose, to inform the Understanding rightly, and enable the Mind to frame great and noble Ideas.
Before I had liv'd quite two Years with this Reverend Gentleman, my indulgent Mother departed this Life, leaving me as it were by my self, having no Relation on Earth within my Knowledge.
I will not abuse your Patience with a tedious Recital of all the frivolous Accidents of my Life, that happened from this Time until I arrived to Years of Discretion, only inform you that I liv'd a chearful Country Life, spending my leisure Time either in some innocent Diversion with the neighbouring Females, or in some shady Retirement, with the best of Company, Books. Thus I past away the Time with a Mixture of Profit and Pleasure, having no Affliction but what was imaginary, and created in my own Fancy; as nothing is more common with us Women, than to be grieving for nothing, when we have nothing else to grieve for.

Who wouldn't believe she was real? Silence's first letter was a smash hit. Benjamin kept the letters coming every two weeks. Silence was particulary concerned about the welfare of women. 

A year later, Benjamin finally confessed to his brother that he had been the author. James had been outraged and was jelous of the attention his younger brother had received. Shortly afterwards, James had been imprisoned for making fun of the clery during the debate over Smallpox inoculations. Benjamin kept the printing press going while his brother was imprisoned. After James was released, James was ungrateful for his brother's help. He constantly abused his little brother 

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