Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 28

the undertaking, as
not likely to succeed, one newspaper being, in their judgment, enough
for America. At this time (1771) there are not less than
five-and-twenty. He went on, however, with the undertaking, and after
having worked in composing the types and printing off the sheets, I
was employed to carry the papers thro' the streets to the customers.

[23] Franklin's memory does not serve him correctly here.
The _Courant_ was really the fifth newspaper established
in America, although generally called the fourth,
because the first, _Public Occurrences_, published in
Boston in 1690, was suppressed after the first issue.
Following is the order in which the other four papers
were published: _Boston News Letter_, 1704; _Boston
Gazette_, December 21, 1719; _The American Weekly
Mercury_, Philadelphia, December 22, 1719; _The New
England Courant_, 1721.

[Illustration: First page of The New England Courant of Dec. 4-11,
1721. Reduced about one-third. From a copy in the Library of the
Massachusetts Historical Society.]

[Transcriber's note: Transcription given at the end of the text.]

He had some ingenious men among his friends, who amus'd themselves by
writing little pieces for this paper, which gain'd it credit and made
it more in demand, and these gentlemen often visited us. Hearing their
conversations, and their accounts of the approbation their papers were
received with, I was excited to try my hand among them; but, being
still a boy, and suspecting that my brother would object to printing
anything of mine in his paper if he knew it to be mine, I contrived to
disguise my hand, and, writing an anonymous paper, I put it in at
night under the door of the printing-house. It was found in the
morning, and communicated to his writing friends when they call'd in
as usual. They read it, commented on it in my hearing, and I had the
exquisite pleasure of finding it met with their approbation, and that,
in their different guesses at the author, none were named but men of
some character among us for learning and ingenuity. I suppose now that
I was rather lucky in my judges, and that perhaps they were not really
so very good ones as I then esteem'd them.

Encourag'd, however, by this, I wrote and conveyed in the same way to
the press several more papers which were equally approv'd; and I kept
my secret till my small fund of

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