Benjamin Franklin serves as a great window on to the early American past because as a man of “variety” he pursued many interests: literature, poetry, science, business, philosophy, philanthropy, and politics.
But one aspect of Franklin’s life has gone largely unstudied: his childhood and early life.
Nick Bunker, author of Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity, joins us to explore Benjamin Franklin’s early life and how family, childhood, and youthful experiences shaped him as a scientist and diplomat.
This episode originally posted as Episode 207.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Nick Bunker, author of Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity, joins us to explore Benjamin Franklin’s early life and how family, childhood, and youthful experiences combined to shape the great scientist and diplomat of the 18th century.
During our investigation, Nick reveals the English roots of the Franklin Family and why those roots were important for Benjamin Franklin; Franklin’s boyhood and education in Boston; And, details about Franklin’s printing business and how he was able to grow it so he could retire at the age of 42.
What You’ll Discover
- The mobility of Benjamin Franklin
- Why focus on Franklin as a young man
- Benjamin Franklin’s English ancestors
- English historical sources about Franklin and his family
- Josiah Franklin’s training as a silk dyer
- Josiah Franklin’s decision to migrate to Boston
- Josiah Franklin starts a new career
- Benjamin Franklin’s childhood in Boston
- Franklin’s formal education
- Franklin’s apprenticeship as a printer
- Why Franklin ran away to Philadelphia
- Franklin’s printing business
- Franklin’s first trip to London
- Franklin’s interest in science
- The Junto
- Benjamin Franklin’s principles of faith
- Benjamin Franklin’s legacy
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Nick Bunker
- Nick on Twitter: @nbunkerauthor
- Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity
- An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America
- Making Haste from Babylon: The Mayflower Pilgrims and Their World: A New History
- American Antiquarian Society
- Library Company of Philadelphia
- American Philosophical Society
- The Papers of Benjamin Franklin
- Episode 086: George Goodwin, Benjamin Franklin in London
- Episode 112: Mary Beth North, The Tea Crisis of 1773
- Episode 160: The Politics of Tea
- Episode 169: Thomas Kidd, The Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin
- Episode 175: Daniel Mark Epstein, The Revolution in Ben Franklin’s House
In your opinion, what might have happened if Franklin had not traveled to London in 1724? Do you think he would have established the successful printing business did if he had not had the training and experiences he gained from the various London print shops he worked in?
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