Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin

Part One, third section

Summary Part One, third section


On route to England with Ralph, Franklin meets a Quaker called Mr. Denham with whom he will stay friends in England. They arrive in London in December 24, 1724. Franklin quickly learns, however, that despite what Keith promised, he did not actually write Franklin a letter of recommendation to be shown to all the printers and stationery sellers in London with whom Franklin was hoping to make connections. Denham advises Franklin to get a job at Palmer's, a famous printing house, where Franklin works for the next year while living with Ralph. Ralph slowly forgets his wife and children and Franklin forgets Miss Read as they live life to the fullest, always having fun and always going broke. Franklin, meanwhile, befriends a man named Wilcox, and together they work out a deal for a small lending library, and idea which will come to greater fruition back in Philadelphia. Franklin prints a pamphlet called A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain. The pamphlet is read by a well known surgeon in London, who makes a point of befriending Franklin and introducing him to a number of famous London figures.

Meanwhile, Ralph decides to move out of London into the countryside with his new girlfriend. Ralph becomes a school teacher and begins writing epic poetry, most of which is very bad, and mailing it to Franklin to read. Ralph's girlfriend begins to worry about Ralph, and she goes to Franklin for advice. Franklin, however, thinks that she is flirting with him, and so when he propositions her, she runs back and tells Ralph about it, forcing Ralph and Franklin to break off their friendship.

Franklin eventually gets promoted out of presswork and into composing articles. He makes more money and moves out of his old lodgings. He begins renting a room from an elderly woman who tells him lots of stories. He makes more friends and spends much of his time swimming (he even thinks of opening a swimming school), but after 18 months in London, Mr. Denham persuades him to leave London and return to Philadelphia.

Back in America, Franklin sees that Keith has lost his job as Governor and has become a common citizen. Keimer offers Franklin a manager job on his return, which Franklin at first declines so that he may work for Denham in his goods store. When Denham dies, however, Franklin takes over managerial work at Keimer's, "putting his printing house in order." Although some employees quit, Franklin gets along with them all very well. He becomes a full-fledged workaholic, making a mold for duplicate types and spending all hours of the day at the presses. When Keimer seeks to cut Franklin's wages, however, Franklin quits. With his friend Meredith, Franklin agrees to take over Keimer's printing house when it goes broke and use it to begin a new newspaper with printing supplies (often called cuts and types) from London. Keimer, however, gets a new job in New Jersey, and offers Franklin a partnership, which Franklin accepts so that he can meet new people in New Jersey. Although Keimer gains a lot from being able to use Franklin's cuts and types, Franklin gains from his new connections. He then returns to Philadelphia and, with his new material from London, begins work in a new printing house with Meredith.

Around this time, Franklin explores his own intellectualism, and he fully converts to Deism. He adopts the ideals of "truth, sincerity and integrity," and as a means of debating these, he forms a group called the Junto, which meets every Friday to discuss questions of philosophy and morality. The group lasts approximately 40 years, and expands substantially later on.

Through Franklin's great industry, his new paper avoids bankruptcy. However, when Keimer falls on the verge of bankruptcy, Franklin buys his paper and turns it around (Keimer later goes fully broke and moves to the Caribbean). He also become the official printer for the Pennsylvania Assembly, the colonial government, thanks to his connections with a Mr. Hamilton whom he met on a boat to England. Franklin begins to make a substantial amount of money which he uses to pay off all the debts he ever incurred, plus interest. Meredith, meanwhile, leaves the newspaper and moves to the southern colonies. In 1729, Franklin hires two men named Coleman and Grace to replace Meredith and to expand the operation.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Popular pages