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Page 2

Benjamin Franklin

1706-1790

On the release of his brother, who had for some time been imprisoned for the above political offence, Franklin was treated by him with so much severity, that at length he determined to leave him. His indentures having before this been cancelled, he secretly went on board of a vessel, bound to New-York, in which he took passage for that city. After a few days spent in New-York, having sought in vain to procure business, he proceeded on foot to Philadelphia, where he at length arrived, fatigued and destitute of all means of support. He was now but seventeen years of age, at tile distance of four hundred miles from home, nearly penniless, without employment, without a counselor, and unacquainted with a single person in the city.

The day following his arrival he wandered through the streets of Philadelphia with an appearance little short of a beggar. His pockets were distended by his clothes, which were crowded into them; and provided with a roll of bread under each arm, he proceeded through the principal streets of the city. His uncouth appearance attracted the notice of several of the citizens, and among others of a Miss Reed, who afterwards became his wife, and by whom, as he passed along, he was thought to present a very awkward and ridiculous appearance.

There were at this time but two printing offices in Philadelphia. Fortunately, in one of these he found employment as compositor. His conduct was very becoming; he was attentive to business, and economical in his expenses. His fidelity not only commended him to his master, but was noticed by several respectable citizens, who promised him their patronage and support.
   Among others, who took much notice of him, was Sir William Keith, at that time governor of the province. The governor having become acquainted with the history of his recent adventures, professed a deep interest in his welfare, and at length proposed that he should commence business on his own account; at the same time, promising to aid him with his influence and that of his friends, and to give him the printing of the government. Moreover, the governor urged him to return to Boston, to solicit the concurrence and assistance of his father. At the same time, he gave him a letter to that gentleman, replete with assurances of affection, and promises of support to the son.

With this object in view, he sailed for Boston, and at length, after an absence of several months, he again entered his father's house. He was affectionately received by the family. To his father he communicated the letter of Governor Keith, which explained the object of his return. His father, however, judiciously advised him, on account of youth and inexperience, to relinquish the project of setting up a printing office, and wrote to this effect to his patron, Governor Keith. Having determined to follow the advice of his father, he returned to Philadelphia, and again entering the employment of his former master, pursued his business with his usual assiduous attention.

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Last modified January 2, 2004