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Meet Amazing Americans Leaders & Statesmen Benjamin Franklin
Franklin reading as an adult
Franklin reading as an adult

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Benjamin Franklin, the Printer

What would Benjamin Franklin be when he grew up? In the 18th century it was up to a boy's father to decide. Benjamin's father first thought he should be a preacher and sent him to school. But school was expensive and would take many years. So his father took him out of school after only two years and he put 10-year-old Benjamin to work at the family business, making soap and candles.

What Benjamin really wanted was to go to sea. He was an excellent swimmer, loved the ocean, and dreamed of working on a ship, but an older brother had died at sea so his father would not allow it. When another brother, James, returned from England to set up a printing business, their father knew what to do. Benjamin loved to read, so why not become a printer? To make sure he didn't run off to sea, his father convinced Benjamin to become his brother's apprentice (helper).

Apprentices had to sign papers that said they would obey and work for their "master" (boss) for a certain amount of time. Benjamin reluctantly signed up to be his brother's apprentice for nine long years, from when he was 12 until he was 21.

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