The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family

By Claude-Anne Lopez ; Eugenia W. Herbert | Go to book overview

I
Son and Sibling

Aversion to arbitrary Power . . . has stuck to me thro' my whole Life.
--Autobiography

JOSIAH FRANKLIN, Benjamin's father, had come to America in 1683 in search of religious freedom. A convert to nonconformism, he had left his native village of Ecton in Northamptonshire rather than submit to the beliefs and practices of the Church of England. Still in his twenties when he landed in Boston, Josiah quickly found that Massachusetts had little use for his skills as a silk dyer and turned to making candles and soap, for which there was considerably more demand. If he did not exactly prosper, at least he managed. His family grew fast, too fast. Three children had come over from England; two more were born soon after the arrival in America. Nowhere is the mother's name mentioned, nowhere except on her tombstone modestly tucked away to the side of that of her more durable successor. There lies "Ann Franclin, aged about 34 years," buried with her sixth child, a little Joseph who died at the age of five days, and with her seventh child, another little Joseph born fifteen months later, who died at fifteen days, one week after his mother.*

Five months after losing his wife, Josiah married again, this time a strong native girl hailing from Nantucket, Abiah Folger. She raised Ann's five surviving children, gave her husband ten more, and lived well into her eighties, never sick a day until her final illness. Of her own brood, four girls and six boys, the youngest son was Benjamin, born January 6, 1706 (to become January 17 after the calendar reform in mid-century).

Boston was seventy-six years old, Harvard College was seventy. The

____________________
*
Harsh as it sounds, her fate was not quite as dismal as that of the first women who landed in Massachusetts Bay in 1628. Of those eighteen, only four survived the first winter. Men frequently outlived two or three of their wives. As an English visitor ungallantly remarked, "the women here, like early fruit, are soon ripe and soon rotten."1

-5-

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The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • A Subjective Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Prologue: the Sweet Air of Twyford 1
  • I - Son and Sibling 5
  • II - Errata Committed, Errata Corrected 16
  • III - Industry, Frugality, Fertility 30
  • IV - Out of the Home and into the World 42
  • V - "Much of a Beau" 59
  • VI - "The Seeds of Every Female Virtue" 70
  • VII - London 78
  • VIII - Homecoming, Homesickness 93
  • IX - Faith or Deeds? 104
  • X - The Dream and the Nightmare 116
  • XI - Father of the Bride 135
  • XII - The Patriarch of Craven Street 149
  • XIII - "Sorrows Roll Upon Me like The, Waves of the Sea" 158
  • XIV - "Your a Feck Shonet Wife" 166
  • XV - Steering Through Storms 176
  • XVI - "You Are a Thorough Courtier" 190
  • XVII - Tug of War 200
  • XVIII - No Watch for Benny, No Feathers for Sally 218
  • XIX - "Temple, is My Right Hand" 236
  • XX - "Nothing Has Ever Hurt Me So Much" 253
  • XXI - Indian Summer 266
  • XXII - From Seine to Schuylkill 281
  • XXIII - Slaves 296
  • XXIV - "Our Little Fleet of Barques" 308
  • Bibliography 343
  • Index 351
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