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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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FRANKLIN'S EDUCATION and APPRENTICESHIP

Franklin's brothers were all apprentices in different trades. Benjamin, however, was sent to school to receive a good education, for his father wanted him to go into service in the Church, a decision that was supported by the entire family. Benjamin's education proved to be too expensive for the family, and Josiah was forced to take his youngest son out of school and put him in the family trade of soap making. Franklin never liked being a tallow chandler or soap boiler. He wanted to go to sea, a decision that his father opposed. As a result, Benjamin remained in Boston with his family.

As a young man, Franklin became the leader amongst his friends. He also was good at sports and handling boats. Franklin tells about an incident from his youth that taught him a lesson in honesty. He persuades his friends to build a fishing wharf on the edge of a salt marsh with stones that are stolen; they were intended for the building of a new house. Franklin's father learns about the escapade and teaches his son that work that is not honest is never useful. Franklin carries this lesson throughout life.

In this context, Franklin gives a sketch of his father's character. Josiah was an honest man with a good reputation in the neighborhood. He was also ingenious and good at art and music. He took great care about his family, especially of his children, and tried to give each of them a solid education and training in their respective trades. Franklin's voracious reading habits made his father decide that his youngest son should become a printer like his older son James. Franklin was to serve as the apprentice of James until he was twenty-one; he would be given journeyman's wages in the last year of his service.


During the time of his apprenticeship, Franklin borrowed books from Mr. Matthew Adams and became interested in poetry. Benjamin attempted writing poetry and composed two ballads that were printed. Franklin's father, however, discouraged Benjamin from writing poetry, for he felt it was of no monetary benefit. Benjamin then became interested in prose writing. He had a friend, John Collins, who shared his same interests of reading and writing. Once there was a discussion between them about the suitability of educating girls and their learning ability. Since their discussion was not concluded, Franklin completed his arguments by writing them down on paper. His father happened to see his discourse and read it carefully.

He told Benjamin that he needed to improve his method, style, and clarity of expression. Franklin agreed with his father's remarks and decided to improve his style in writing. He made the decision to model his writing style after the articles found in the London magazine called Spectator; Franklin felt the writing of this magazine was worthy of imitation. In addition to his conscious effort to improve his writing style, Franklin also concentrated on improving his art of persuasiveness and argument.

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