The Private Franklin: The Man and His Family

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

III
Industry, Frugality, Fertility

Doubt not my behaving well in Wedlock, having all the Industry, Frugality, Fer-tility, and Skill in Oeconomy, appertaining to a good Wife's Character.
--The Speech of Miss Polly Baker, 1747

"SHE PROVED a good and faithful helpmate. . . . We throve together and have mutually endeavor'd to make each other happy."1We throve together is an understatement: They did splendidly. By 1732, two years after they were married, Franklin had finished paying off his debts. Under the same roof on Market Street, less than two blocks from the spot where he had first caught sight of Deborah, he ran a newspaper, a printing shop, and a general store. His Pennsylvania Gazette was a very staid paper, more given to news than to controversy, a far cry from James's hell-raising New-England Courant, now defunct. The store carried a wide range of merchandise, from the salves and ointments concocted by Deborah's mother "sufficient to remove the most inveterate itch"2 to the "crown" soap made in Boston by Franklin's brother John according to a secret recipe. In a neat cycle of self-promotion, the newspaper advertised both the products of the press and the goods in the shop. That same year, 1732, Franklin launched his Poor Richard's Almanac which was eventually to sell at the rate of ten thousand copies a year, his first chance at fame and fortune. Also in 1732, Deborah gave birth to their son Francis Folger--and Philadelphia broke ground for its State House, later to become Independence Hall.

The shop was Debbie's special preserve. She sold printing and writing materials, bills of lading, servants' indentures, powers of attorney, blank books, quills, ink, ink horns and ink powders, pounce (powder to blot ink), slates, parchment, sealing wax, and spectacles. There was also a brisk trade in books, those her husband printed and those he imported from England: primers, Bibles, psalters, maps, dictionaries, grammars, ballads, the highly popular almanacs--both other authors' and the home-grown Poor Dick, as she called it.

-30-

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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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