The Pennsylvania Gazette

Even though he had a dead-end job at Keimer’s printing shop, what did he do to ensure his future success while in this difficult situation?


I soon perceiv'd that the intention of engaging me at wages so much higher than he had been us'd to give, was, to have these raw, cheap hands form'd thro' me; and, as soon as I had instructed them, then they being all articled to him, he should be able to do without me. I went on, however, very cheerfully, put his printing-house in order, which had been in great confusion, and brought his hands by degrees to mind their business and to do it better. (51)

  • "they all respected me the more, as they found Keimer incapable of instructing them, and that from me they learned something daily." (52)
  • What happened to George Webb? (How did an Oxford scholar wind up an apprentice in Keimer's Printing Shop in America?) "He was lively, witty, good-natur'd, and a pleasant companion, but idle, thoughtless, and imprudent to the last degree." (51) 
  • That old debt to Vernon is still bothering him.
  • Ben invents a mould to cast types (52) "I also engrav'd several things on occasion; I made the ink; I was warehouseman, and everything, and, in short, quite a factotum." (52)
  • Friendship with Meredith, his future business partner whose father loans Ben the capital to secure the equipment he needs to go into into business on his own. Meredith? "[He was] a Welsh Pensilvanian, thirty years of age, bred to country work; honest, sensible, had a great deal of solid observation, was something of a reader, but given to drink."
  • Fanklin secures the loan from Meredith's father, orders the equipment, and then comes back to work 'freelance' with Keimer even after being publicly insulted. Why? "the New Jersey jobb" (52-53) "I contriv'd a copperplate press for it, the first that had been seen in the country."
  • "At Burlington I made an acquaintance with many principal people of the province.....They had me to their houses, introduced me to their friends, and show'd me much civility." (53)
  •  the deal?  government contact for printing the actual bills of the legislature and distributing them.
  •  Isaac Decow's prophecy  "The latter was a shrewd, sagacious old man, who told me that he began for himself, when young, by wheeling clay for the brick-makers, learned to write after he was of age, carri'd the chain for surveyors, who taught him surveying, and he had now by his industry, acquir'd a good estate; and says he, "I foresee that you will soon work this man out of business, and make a fortune in it at Philadelphia." (53)

How did Franklin forge his own religious principles? (Why was that so important?)

  •  the then state of my mind with regard to my principles and morals (53)
  • [At fifteen], I began to doubt of Revelation itself....I soon became a thorough Deist. (53)

Whatever is, is right.
Though purblind man
Sees but a part o' the chain, the nearest link,
His eyes not carrying to the equal beam,
That poises all above. – Pope, Essay on Man (54)


I grew convinc'd that truth, sincerity and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life; and I form'd written resolutions, which still remain in my journal book, to practice them ever while I lived.  Revelation had indeed no weight with me, as such; but I entertain'd an opinion that, though certain actions might not be bad because they were forbidden by it, or good because it commanded them, yet probably these actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us... (54)

Building Franklin's Printing Business (1728)

  • Despite the croaking of old Samuel Mickle (55), Franklin gets the equipment from London that was financed by Meredith’s dad, rents a building, and when George House refers him his first client, he is in business. 
  • The Junto Club Franklin co-founds "a club of mutual improvement, which we called the JUNTO" (55): How did belonging to this debating club serve the members’ business interests?
    • a debating club but really a chamber of commerce designed to assist the members in business skills, but more importantly, look out for potential business investments
  • What skills did Franklin and his friends develop during the Friday night meetings of the Junto Club? 
  • Rule #1: no 'positive argumentation' So very polite: They even fined each other if you crossed the line.

…the club continued almost as long, and was the best school of philosophy, morality, and politics that then existed in the province; for our queries, which were read the week preceding their discussion, put us upon reading with attention upon the several subjects, that we might speak more to the purpose; and here, too, we acquired better habits of conversation... (56)

  • The Members of the Junto Club:

Joseph Breintnal, a copyer of deeds (who brought Franklin the Quaker account)

Thomas Godfrey, a self-taught mathematician, completely useless

Nicholas Scull, a surveyor

William Parsons, bred a shoemaker, but loving reading, a surveyor-general

William Maugridge, a joiner, an exquisite mechanic, a solid, sensible man.

Robert Grace, a young gentleman of some fortune

William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, who became a friend of Franklin's for life: 

"who had the coolest, dearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any 

man I ever met with.  He became afterwards a merchant of great note, and one of our 

provincial judges."

  • "But my giving this account of it here is to show something of the interest I had, every one of these exerting themselves in recommending business to us." (56)
  • HARD WORK:  Quaker History: "I compos'd of it a sheet a day" (56)
  • Dr. Baird's recommendation: "For the industry of that Franklin," says he, "is superior to any thing I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed."  (56)

The Pennsylvania Gazette (1728) (Or How to Make a Million Dollars)

Our first papers made a quite different appearance from any before in the province; a better type, and better printed; but some spirited remarks of my writing, on the dispute then going on between Governor Burnet and the Massachusetts Assembly, struck the principal people, occasioned the paper and the manager of it to be much talk'd of, and in a few weeks brought them all to be our subscribers. (56)


the leading men, seeing a newspaper now in the hands of one who could also handle a pen, thought it convenient to oblige and encourage me. (57)

  

Franklin Comes Out of a Crisis in Better Shape Than Before It.

  • The Crisis: with his partner Meredith (57-58) Meredith's father backs out of backing the paper.
  • How does Franklin handle it?
    • He approaches two friends, Coleman and Grace from the Junto Club, who indicate a willingness to back him IF he dissolves his partnership with Meredith.
    • Instead of leaping at this opportunity, Franklin refuses to betray his partner; instead, he goes to Meredith and says,

Perhaps your father is dissatisfied at the part you have undertaken in this affair of ours, and is unwilling to advance for you and me what he would for you alone. If that is the case, tell me, and I will resign the whole to you, and go about my business. (58)

  • Meredith is given an opportunity to save face and makes Franklin an offer to sell him his part of the business on favorable terms. Then Franklin borrows the money from his friends to complete the sale, but Franklin structures the deal so that he maintains the controlling interest in the company. (His new partners only own 49% of the company even though they put up all of the money to buy Meredith out.) 
  • RESULT: Everyone is happy!

"As soon as he was gone, I recurr'd to my two friends; and because I would not give an unkind preference to either, I took half of what each had offered and I wanted of one, and half of the other; paid off the company's debts, and went on with the business in my own name..."  (58)

How do you make a million dollars? Print Paper Money! the deal which makes Franklin a rich man. How did he land it?

  • Fiscal Policy Debate: "The wealthy inhabitants oppos'd any addition, being against all paper currency, from an apprehension that it would depreciate, as it had done in New England, to the prejudice of all creditors. " (58)
  • Why would Franklin want to back paper money?

"I was on the side of an addition, being persuaded that the first small sum struck in 1723 had done much good by increasing the trade, employment, and number of inhabitants in the province..." (58): paper currency is favorable to small lower middle class people seeking to find the capital to go into business for themselves. Paper currency inflates the value of money so that makes it less expensive for small businesses to pay back loans. Paper money is bad for people who own a lot of land or have a lot of money in the bank because inflation erodes the total value of your assets. 

  • Franklin debates the question of paper vs. metal currency at the Junto Club.
  • Franklin prints an anonymous pamphlet: “The Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency” agitating on the side of paper money. Result? The Legislature passes the bill.

 "the point was carried by a majority in the House. My friends there, who conceiv'd I had been of some service, thought fit to reward me by employing me in printing the money; a very profitable jobb and a great help to me." (59)

    Maximizing Profit (59): spinning off business 

    • the printing of the Newcastle paper money
    • the printing of the laws and votes of that government,
    • I now open'd a little stationer's shop. 
    •  Paying off debt! (How did Mr. Denham teach Ben to pay off debt?) 

    Cultivating his Public Reputation

    • Humility: Taking care to not only remain industrious and frugal, but also to appear so in public: (59)
    •  "I began now gradually to pay off the debt I was under for the printing-house." 
    • "I drest plainly; I was seen at no places of idle diversion." (59)  
    • "I never went out a fishing or shooting." (59)

    I sometimes brought home the paper I purchas'd at the stores thro' the streets on a wheelbarrow. Thus being esteem'd an industrious, thriving young man, and paying duly for what I bought, the merchants who imported stationery solicited my custom; others proposed supplying me with books, and I went on swimming.

    The Public Librarythe mother of all the North American subscription libraries

    Franklin and Women