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Meet Amazing Americans Leaders & Statesmen Benjamin Franklin
Image of Benjamin Franklin as a young man, seated at desk in printing shop
Benjamin Franklin as a young man, seated at desk in printing shop

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Benjamin Franklin, the Printer

After a couple of especially controversial stories in 1723, the Massachusetts legislature decided that the Courant had mocked religion and the government and should be punished. They put James in jail and passed an order that "James Franklin should no longer print the paper."

But James and his friends figured out a good way around the order. They published the paper under the name "Benjamin Franklin." And suddenly, Benjamin, at age 17, was the publisher of the New England Courant. To make sure it looked legitimate, James officially ended Benjamin's apprenticeship, but he replaced it with a new secret apprenticeship agreement.

While Benjamin liked being the publisher, he liked the idea of freedom better. Not freedom for the states (yet), but freedom for himself. Officially, Benjamin no longer had to obey and work for James, his "master." Benjamin guessed that James would not want to reveal the secret apprenticeship agreement and so he took advantage of the situation. Benjamin ran away to try to make it on his own.

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