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Benjamin Franklin Franklin Benjamin 1706-1790 American printer author diplomat philosopher and scientist whose many contributions to the cause of the American Revolution 1775-1783 and the newly formed federal government that followed rank him among the countrys greatest statesmen Franklin was born on January 17 1706 in Boston His father Josiah Franklin a tallow chandler by trade had 17 children Benjamin was the 15th child and the 10th son His mother Abiah Folger was his fathers second wife The Franklin family was in modest circumstances like most New Englanders of the time After his attendance at grammar school from age eight to ten Benjamin was taken into his fathers business Finding the work uncongenial however he entered the employ of a cutler At age 13 he was apprenticed to his brother James who had recently returned from England with a new printing press Benjamin learned the printing trade devoting his spare time to the advancement of his education His reading included Pilgrims Progress by the British preacher John Bunyan Parallel Lives the work of the Greek essayist and biographer Plutarch Essay on Projects by the English journalist and novelist Daniel Defoe and the Essays to Do Good by Cotton Mather the American Congregational clergyman When he acquired a copy of the third volume of the Spectator by the British statesmen and essayists Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison he set himself the goal of mastering its prose style In 1721 his brother James Franklin established the New England Courant and Benjamin at the age of 15 was busily occupied in delivering the newspaper by day and in composing articles for it at night These articles published anonymously won wide notice and acclaim for their pithy observations on the current scene Because of its liberal bias the New England Courant frequently incurred the displeasure of the colonial authorities In 1722 as a consequence of an article considered particularly offensive James Franklin was imprisoned for
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