The Story of Benjamin Franklin

by James Baldwin

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Chapter XI: A Leading Man in Philadelphia

When Franklin was twenty-four years old he was married to Miss Deborah Read, the young lady who had laughed at him when he was walking the street with his three rolls.

They lived together very happily for a great many years.

Some time before this marriage, Franklin's friend and employer, Mr. Denham, had died. The dry-goods store, of which he was the owner, had been sold, and Franklin's occupation as a salesman, or clerk, was gone. But the young man had shown himself to be a person of great industry and ability. He had the confidence of everybody that knew him.

A friend of his, who had money, offered to take him as a partner in the newspaper business. And so he again became a printer, and the editor of a paper called the Pennsylvania Gazette.

It was not long until Franklin was recognized as one of the leading men in Philadelphia. His name was known, not only in Pennsylvania, but in all the colonies.

He was all the time thinking of plans for making the people about him wiser and better and happier.

He established a subscription and circulating library, the first in America. This library was the beginning of the present Philadelphia Public Library. He wrote papers on education. He founded the University of Pennsylvania. He organized the American Philosophical Society. He established the first fire company in Philadelphia, which was also the first in America.

He invented a copper-plate press, and printed the first paper money of New Jersey. He also invented the iron fireplace, which is called the Franklin stove, and is still used where wood is plentiful and cheap.

After an absence of ten years, he paid a visit to his old home in Boston. Everybody was glad to see him now,—even his brother James, the printer.

When he returned to Philadelphia, he was elected clerk of the colonial assembly.

Not long after that, he was chosen to be postmaster of the city. But his duties in this capacity did not require very much labor in those times.

He did not handle as much mail in a whole year as passes now through the Philadelphia post-office in a single hour.


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