Women's Rights, 1738
In December 1738, the unthinkable happened to Elizabeth Timothy. Her husband, Lewis, died, leaving her pregnant and with six children aged 14 and younger. He also left her with a printing house and a massive debt to Benjamin Franklin for the publishing business he had financed for the Timothies in Charleston, South Carolina.
Lewis and Elizabeth Timothy and their children had moved to Charleston in 1733 so that Lewis could assume the role of printer for South Carolina. The family had emigrated from Holland to Philadelphia in 1731, and Lewis found work as a journeyman printer for Franklin. When South Carolina's printer, Thomas Whitmarsh, died, Franklin arranged for Lewis to assume the position. The Philadelphia printer provided him with a press and type. In return, Franklin was to receive one-third of the profits until the debt for the press was paid. After six years, the Timothies had the option of buying Franklin out of the partnership.1 Now, with Lewis dead, how would that be possible?
Elizabeth Timothy expected the printing business to continue and for the business to become totally owned by the Timothies. She explained her plans in her newspaper, the South-Carolina Gazette, on January 4, 1739:
Whereas the late Printer of this Gazette hath been deprived of life . . . I take this Opportunity of informing the Publick, that I shall contain the said paper as usual. . . . Wherefore, I flatter myself, that all those Persons, who, by Subscription or otherwise, assisted my late Husband, on the prosecution of the Said Undertaking,