Benjamin Franklin Arrives in London
The 24th of December 1724 AD
Benjamin Franklin was one of the most brilliant figures of his and indeed any age, in his long life making his mark as a scientist, inventor, diplomat, philosopher, writer, and signatory of the Declaration of Independence . The adventurous Franklin began his working life apprenticed to his brother as a printer, but escaped his clutches to work in Philadelphia where he met the Governor, Sir William Keith. Keith, impressed with the still teenage Franklin, offered to back him in founding a newspaper, for which he was persuaded to travel to London to purchase type and other equipment.
Franklin left America on the ship London Hope on November 5 1724, landing in London on December 24. Unfortunately the unreliable and impecunious Keith failed to send the promised letters of credit and introductions, leaving the young Franklin stranded. He probably stayed at the Pennsylvania Coffee House while searching for digs – settling on a place in an alley called Little Britain, his new home conveniently adjoining a bookshop where the owner John Wilcox lent the energetic American tomes to continue his self-education.
Franklin soon found work as a printer in the Smithfield district, first with Samuel Palmer, then John Watts. During his stay Franklin, just 19, published a work on Liberty and Necessity; but he also sowed his wild oats before returning to the colonies in 1726.
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