ON January 6, 1706, the very day Franklin was born, he was baptized in the Old South Church in Boston. If trustworthy tradition be given credence, he was carried thither through the deep snow by his mother, and this act, which now would be held little short of murder, was no less perilous then, as is proved by the fearful death-rate among the mothers and children of New England. But the Calvinistic faith of the Puritans maintained that the physical danger of either matricide or infanticide was as nothing compared with the spiritual risk of the babe dying unbaptized, and so convention decreed that both parent and offspring should be exposed without loss of time, rather than doom the little one to eternal damnation.
The strain of religious austerity that such a proceeding implied was a heritage. "This obscure family of ours," Franklin writes of his English progenitors, "was