Title: Ben Franklin of Old PhiladelphiaBen Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Author: Margaret Cousins
Pages: 153
Recommended Ages: 9-14
Star Rating: ★★★★★

It’s a Landmark Book! Yay!

His Life.

Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706, the son of a Boston-dwelling candlemaker. One of seventeen children born to Josiah Franklin, Benjamin was never bored – in fact, sometimes he was a little too busy! He would often go swimming with friends down at the wharf and one time even organized his friends to build their own wharf! Even from his earliest days, Benjamin was a planner and a motivator.

When he was 12, Benjamin’s father felt it was time for Benjamin to begin training in a profession. But which one? Benjamin wanted to be a sailor, but Mr. Franklin would not allow that. Finally, Benjamin was apprenticed to his older brother, James, who was a printer.

Benjamin learned much while working at James’ store, but James was jealous and controlling. Finally, Benjamin felt that he could no longer submit himself to James’ tyranny. He escaped to Philadelphia and there, after much hard work and many disappointments, he founded his own print shop.

But Benjamin was a natural born learner, and he refused to limit himself to his profession. He studied every subject he could lay his hand to – history, natural science, foreign languages, politics, writing, etc. He also involved himself heavily in his community. It came to be said that if anything needed to get done, Ben Franklin was the man to do it! He organized lending libraries, fire response teams, hospitals, paved roads, local militia, and many other community-improving projects long before there was talk of separation from Britain. Franklin was always a man who supported local effort and government.

By the time the American War for Independence started, Franklin was nearing his seventies. But he nevertheless offered to serve his country in whatever way he could. Having already spent time in England, he was this time shipped off as an ambassador to France. The French people loved his novel style and crackling wit, and he spent nine happy years there before finally returning home to America. He died in 1790, truly a legend beloved at home and abroad.

Discussion.

It is mentioned that early on in his life, Benjamin stopped attending church on Sundays because he felt that Sundays were the only time he had for study and improvement. Later, when Benjamin and his two grandsons were in France, he brought them before Voltaire and asked that Voltaire give them a benediction. In this scene, Liberty is referred to as a goddess.

Benjamin’s relationships with his family were at best rocky and at times volatile.

Conclusion. A superb biography.

Review © 2014 Laura Verret

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