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Benjamin Franklin, as a Boy, at a Printing Press, 1913

Benjamin Franklin - The Boy Franklin at the Printing Press
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_1103
Document Description
Benjamin Franklin, as a boy, at a printing press. From a print (Bostonian Society, Old State House, Boston) after a painting by E. Wood Perry, 1913.
Interdisciplinary Connections

Historical Context
Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1706.  When he was twelve years old, he became an apprentice to his older brother James, who ran a printing office in Boston.  In 1723, Ben Franklin left Boston and made his way to Philadelphia, where he worked as a printer's assistant.  

Franklin soon became a very successful printer.  At the young age of twenty-two, he opened his own printing shop in Philadelphia.  One of his most successful publications was "The Pennsylvania Gazette," which he purchased in 1729 and made into the most widely-read newspaper in the American colonies.  Three years after purchasing the newspaper, Franklin began to publish "Poor Richard's Almanack."  This immensely popular almanac was published annually for twenty five years and sold over 10,000 copies a year, more than any other book in the American colonies.

Franklin also worked as a printer for some of the colonial governments.  In 1730, he was named the official printer of Pennsylvania, a job that involved printing money, laws, and other official documents.  He later became the public printer for Delaware, New Jersey, and Maryland, as well.    

In 1748, at the age of forty-two, Benjamin Franklin retired from printing.  He still had half of his life before him, and some of his greatest accomplishments were yet to come.


Essential Question
How do individuals influence the development of a society?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of Benjamin Franklin's life on the development of American society.