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The Franklin Family's Youngest Son

Benjamin Franklin was born on January 17, 1706. His family lived in Boston, Massachusetts. His father's name was Josiah and his mother's name was Abiah. Ben was their eighth child and they would later have two more. However, Josiah already had seven children from his first marriage. So, Ben knew a lot about growing up in a BIG family! He had nine brothers and seven sisters!

Ben's father, Josiah, worked as a candle and soap maker and made sure that each of his sons learned a trade. Josiah had plans for Ben to enter the clergy, so he sent him to the Grammar School. Ben quickly learned to read and write but he did not do well in Arithmetic. Soon, Josiah changed his mind about Ben and took him out of school. Ben began to work in Josiah's candle and soap business, but Ben was not happy. Josiah then decided that Ben could learn the printing business. So, at age twelve, Ben became an apprentice in his brother James' printing office.

Even as a boy, Ben Franklin loved to read. Once, he read a book about swimming and quickly taught himself the basic swimming strokes. He built himself wooden paddles for his hands and feet to help him swim faster. He used a kite in the breeze to pull him along, making it easier to swim. Later, he read a book about eating meat and decided to try being a vegetarian. He figured it was healthier, but also that he could save money.

He also liked to write. However, no one was interested in what a young boy had to say. So he wrote secretly, using the name Silence Dogood, and slipped his stories under the door of his brother's print shop. His brother published the stories in his newspaper and everyone loved to read them. Later, when James found out who Silence Dogood really was, he was angry with Ben and their relationship was never the same.

Read more about Ben's early life in his Autobiography.


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