|Emboldened with his successes in the printing industry,
Franklin hoped to garner a share of the newspaper market. However,
there were already two weekly Philadelphian journals in print, one
being published by Franklin's rival and former boss, Keimer.
Keimer's weekly, The Universal Instructor in All Arts and Sciences: and Pennsylvania Gazette, seemed promising initially, but then failed, partly due to Franklin's scathing criticisms of the paper. Benjamin seized the opportunity, purchasing the rights to the newspaper in 1729 and renaming it (Thank Heavens!) The Pennsylvania Gazette. Due to Franklin's outstanding writing talent, the weekly Gazette turned a handsome profit. Unable to compete with his witty former employee, Keimer saw his dreams of a successful print shop dissolve into false hopes. He sold his operation and moved to the West Indies, regretting the day he aroused the anger of Benjamin Franklin.
In that same year, Franklin became the sole owner of the print shop. He purchased the entire share of Hugh Meredith, his one-time partner. Hugh had never been much of an asset to the enterprise, for he was generally drunk and possessed dubious printing skills.
Benjamin Franklin: Printer and Competitor
Around 1730, Benjamin scrambled to get married since he had fathered a son, name William, out of wedlock. To this day, the identity of William's true mother remains a mystery. Some historians claim she must have been a servant in Franklin's house while others implicate Deborah Read. Regardless, in order to avoid the disgrace for all parties involved, Benjamin never revealed the mother's name. Instead, Deborah Read quickly moved into Franklin's residence and was declared his common-law wife.
Deborah and Benjamin Franklin seemed to be a solid match. Although Deborah failed to comprehend many of Franklin's intellectual pursuits, she proved a dutiful, devoted wife, assisting in the cleaning of the print shop and the stitching of papers. Mrs. Franklin nurtured William as well as her two own legitimate children, son Francis and daughter Sarah.
During this time, Franklin began to establish himself as a leader in the Philadelphian community. He made substantial contributions to the establishment of Philadelphia's first library. In order to succeed, Benjamin pursued moral perfection. He created a list of thirteen virtues and kept a daily log of how well he adhered to these principles. Furthermore, Franklin adopted a rigorous daily schedule that began with the introspective question: "What good shall I do this day?"
In 1732, Franklin published his first almanac- a calendar of weather forecasts and wise epigrams . Benjamin used the pseudonym Richard Saunders for the author of the almanac. Therefore, the publication became known as Poor Richard's Almanack . Interestingly, his brother James was publishing a Poor Robin almanac simultaneously on Newport, Rhode Island.
For many citizens of Philadelphia, Franklin's almanac was the only book they purchased all year. Therefore, the printer viewed his work as a tool for educating the public. In the same way, he refused to publish false stories in his newspaper, for he considered the Pennsylvania Gazette as a means of edifying the Philadelphia populace.
The up-and-coming businessman
Franklin's ideas about education were practical and unconventional for the time period. For example, he believed women should be instructed in business matters. Furthermore, he valued the "useful" languages of French, Italian, and Spanish over the archaic and classical Latin, which represented a sharp departure from eighteenth century academia.