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Studying for a test? Prepare with these 4 lessons on The founding fathers of the United States of America.
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Voiceover: Where we left off in the last video, Benjamin Franklin was born. He was the tenth son to a Puritan father in Boston. He eventually ends up working for his brother as an apprentice at age 12 but then runs away at 17. Voiceover: Right, he runs away. He had written the Silence Dogood Essays. His brother had caught him writing these essays under the pseudonym Silence Dogood and Franklin didn't want to remain an apprentice, even though he was bound to do so. So he runs away in the nighttime. He gets on a boat in Boston, sails, originally to New York and, after a few days, decides to continue on to Philadelphia, going up the Philadelphia Bay, the Delaware Bay, and then into the river and onto the Market Street Wharf of Philadelphia. There's a famous scene of him arriving. Voiceover: 17 years old, 19, 22. Voiceover: 17 years old. Bedraggled, wet, he has only a few coins in his pocket. When he arrives at the wharf, he gives one of the coins to the boatman as a tip. When you're really poor, you don't want people to know you're poor so you pretend to be a little bit richer. There it is, Franklin already caring about his public relations and caring about sort of being a typical American. Sort of saying, "I don't want to look poor. "I'm going to be a generous guy." In marching up Market Street, he buys three puffy rolls and he's all wet and bedraggled. He passes a doorway, there's a 15 year old girl named Deborah Reed and she sort of laughs at him, thinks he makes a ridiculous looking figure. We know this because, years later, when he was 65 years old, he writes his autobiography and there's this scene in it of him arriving in Philadelphia. I think it's the best and, certainly the most famous, scene in autobiographical literature, which is Ben Franklin's arrival in Philadelphia. You see him discussing his arrival and, as you look at the manuscript of the autobiography, he writes in the fact that his wife, who must have told him this later, "Hey, I was laughing at you and thought "you made a ridiculous figure." Later on, Franklin writes in the third draft that he's doing of the autobiography, "As I certainly did." He's being sort of self aware and self deprecating but also very proud, because here he's saying rags to riches. I was in rags, I was bedraggled. Even the person I ended up marrying was laughing at me, and then I became a great success. Voiceover: And pretty immediately he wants to marry her but it doesn't work that way. Voiceover: Right, he decides to propose marriage to her Her father was a tradesman, a pretty successful merchant in Philadelphia But Benjamin Franklin, first of all he's 17, and he was truly a 17 year old Meaning, he may have been very wise and could write very well but he had a lot of adventures, let us say. And at one point he has to go to England to get the printing material. The typesets, the printing presses, that he needs to become a printer. Voiceover: He wants to become a printer but he obviously needs equipment. Voiceover: Right, he didn't have equipment he was working for somebody else who was a printer and he wanted to start up a rival print shop and somebody said "I'll stake you, I'll give you money, you go to London, you buy the press". But the guy that was going to stake him ends up pulling out Doesn't really stake him. Franklin arrives in London with no money. So, he works for almost two years in London to make enough money to buy the printing equipment. While he's over there, first of all he's having a good time. He has many girlfriends and maybe writing a letter every now and then to his young friend Deborah back in Philadelphia. But she ends up getting getting married, she doesn't wait for him. And it's a real mess because she gets married, Franklin comes back from London and then her husband disappears. So, she's not really divorced, but she's not really single, and she's not really married. And so they eventually enter into a Common-law marriage because they couldn't get married in the church because she was technically still married. And he, as I said, was having fun as a young 20 year old and he had his own illegitimate child, a son named William. But unlike a lot of people of that period who had illegitimate children, he immediately took responsibility. He decides he's going to raise William himself. And so, Deborah is not only willing to enter into the Common-law marriage, but also help raise his son, William Franklin. Voiceover: So this pretty, especially for that period in time, on both sides. She was officially married in the eyes of the church. That's why they had to get a purely legal marriage. And he has an illegitimate child, returns. This is in 1730, so he's still a fairly young man and she's even younger. He's 24 and she's 22 at this point. Voiceover: Right, right. It was a somewhat unconventional type of family. Throughout his life he had that. It's hard to know what to make of the relationship between Deborah Reed, who never, as far as we can tell, and I've researched this a lot, never left Philadelphia. Probably never spent the night more than four blocks from Market Street. Where as you'll see from Franklin's life he's in London, he's in Paris, he's in Boston, he goes up and down the coast of America during the postal system. And yet they have a very friendly, even loving, relationship. But not what we would call a normal, conventional marriage. Voiceover: Fascinating. He's starting to establish himself now. He comes back, he's got some money saved up. He's got the equipment, and this is when he really starts to establish himself as the Benjamin Franklin most people remember. Voiceover: Well he becomes one of our first successful small business owners. Soon it becomes a big business. He has a print shop in Philadelphia. If you have a print shop, you end up needing some content to print in order to be good. So he starts a newspaper, which was the 'Pennsylvania Gazette'. Unlike the other newspapers, there are a lot of other newspapers in this small town, maybe nine or ten of them. But one of them is affiliated with the Anglicans. Another is affiliated with the Quakers. Another with the Proprietors, they were called. The Penn Family, who owned most of the land. Franklin decides to start an independent newspaper with a spunky independent, very freedom-loving American voice and he writes it with a lot of pseudonyms again, in his newspaper. Writes stories under different people's names, including Polly Baker, a woman he invents who tells a story of how she had illegitimate children but raised them all. So he gets into the politics of.. Voiceover: I love the social justice here Voiceover: Social justice a bit, but done with a real sense of humor as Polly Baker is standing in front of the court, saying "Hey, I'm doing "good for this colony. And by the way," "some of you in the corner are the reason" I have these illegitimate children." (laughs) So it's a very funny fictional piece, it has a little social justice undercurrent. The other thing he does, because he wants a successful print shop, is he needs books to print. And he realizes printing the Bible is not really a smart idea. People buy the Bible just once in their life, maybe twice. He should print an almanack. Because people buy an almanack every year. So in 1733 he starts what's called 'Poor Richard's Almanack'. Voiceover: Just to take a step back here. I remember almanacks and I'm assuming they are still printed. But, I would guess some of the younger listeners to this will have no idea what an almanack is. Voiceover: Imagine the World Wide Web but in a pocketbook form. It came out every year, it told you the population of every city. It predicted the weather. It told you what the weather was like the year before. It gave you the horoscopes and the way the moon phases and the sun rises would be. But it also had wonderful little lessons. It told you how to remove stains from fabrics. When Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web He says it's because he remembered an almanack an almanack of the same period as Ben Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanack that was called Inquire Within Upon Everything. So the first name for the web was Inquire. It was a system written to be an almanack but do it electronically. Voiceover: Why is it not called 'Ben Franklin's Almanack'? Voiceover: Ben Franklin very often, as I've said, wrote under a pseudonym. Sometimes he did it to disguise and be anonymous, just like we invent pseudonyms when we are on Twitter or something. On the other hand, everybody knew who Poor Richard was. It was sold at Ben Franklin's print shop. Everybody knew he was Poor Richard Saunders. But it gave him a way to poke fun, be humorous. Poor Richard Saunders even pokes fun at his printer, meaning poke fun at Ben Franklin. Saying he has all these rattling traps and needs to make money out of them, so he's using me to make money, that sort of thing. And we even get some of the famous old maxims because Franklin liked to put in the margin of his almanack 'Poor Richard's Sayings'. And you may remember some of them. "A penny saved is a penny earned." "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise." And there were about 150 of these over the years that become quite famous, some of which he adopted from other people's writings. But, he just knew how to make them clever and pithy. And becomes the most successful almanack ever printed in America. Thousands and thousands of copies, so he ends up franchising other people in other cities to create print shops, to do Poor Richard's Almanack. One of the coolest things he does, as a media guy he has printing press, he has the content, he decides he needs a distribution system. So he helps create the American Colonial Postal System to tie together all of his print shops and send the newspapers back and forth. And to help the printing businesses of all of his friends and apprentices and relatives up and down the coast of the colonies be tied together. Voiceover: This is no small thing. You're saying he's constructing the postal system. Voiceover: The US Colonial Postal System is primarily brought together by Benjamin Franklin as a printer in Philadelphia in order to tie together the various printing shops in the colonies that were usually run by his friends and relatives, and to distribute the content, like Poor Richard's Almanack. Voiceover: Fascinating.