Renegade Second-Generation Printers
Thinking more of his successful early partnerships than of his disappointing mid-century forays, Franklin wrote of his associates, “Most of them did well, being enabled at the End of our Term, Six Years, to purchase the Types of me; and go on working for themselves, by which means several Families were raised.”1 Despite his inability to establish enduring printing houses in Connecticut, Antigua, or the Pennsylvania German culture, Franklin remained the head of the most influential journalism alliance in colonial America. As his associates struck out on their own, they collected employees, and some, partners, all the while remaining bound to Franklin by contract, indebtedness, or loyalty.
Franklin's most loyal and prominent printing partners were David Hall, Peter Timothy, and James Parker. After a cautious start, Hall and Franklin enjoyed a warm relationship until Hall's death in 1772. “Mr. F. writes in the handsomest Manner of you, and is perfectly pleased with your Conduct and Behaviour,” Hall's mentor William Strahan told him. In a letter to Franklin, Hall offered an idea of why he had earned Franklin's admiration and respect— he remained faithful, stayed sober, worked diligently, and never challenged Franklin's authority. “I flatter myself that my Conduct, in general,” he wrote, “is satisfactory to you, for I can, with great Truth, say, I have never done any thing, either with respect to public or private Business, but with a View to please all Parties; and if I have not altogether succeeded in it, I am sorry for it; it must be imputed to an Error of my Judgment, not of my Will.”2
Timothy, more feisty than the placid and businesslike Hall, periodically involved himself and his newspaper, the South-Carolina Gazette, in controversy.