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[p. 42]

Jim Franklin, Ben's big brother

by Rev. Anson Titus.
[Read at a meeting of the Medford Historical Society, May 21, 1923.]

In 1718 James Franklin sailed for London and secured type and printing press and immediately began the printing of pamphlets and books; and soon became the printer of the Boston Gazette, the official paper of the province. In 1721 Franklin established the New England Courant. The Courant began in the midst of one of the greatest small pox epidemics Boston ever had. Doctors Increase and Cotton Mather were ardent advocates of inoculation, and strongly supported by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston. Franklin with great freedom of expression wrote of affairs which brought the wrath of the provincial officials upon him. Franklin printed an item regarding pirate vessels in the vicinity of Block Island, and that Captain Pete Papillion had raised a company and sailed against them. It was an impolitic item to print, but was a scoop on the part of an inexperienced printer. The following day he was brought before the governor on the Speakers' warrant, and spent a month in jail. His younger brother, Ben Franklin, only seventeen years old, became editor for a time, and for legal reasons his name continued as publisher for three or four years. The printshop of James Franklin was on the site of the Old Colony Trust Company. During these years Franklin printed an ‘Arithmetic’; a book on ‘Music’ by Thomas Walter, stated to be the first music printed in bars; also printed astronomical books for Professors Greenwood and Robie of Harvard College, and many sermons by the Doctors Mather. Franklin printed books of superior grade, which did not meet with a sale they deserved. Bankruptcy followed, and in 1727 James Franklin removed to Newport, R. I., where he entered at once upon a more prosperous career. He obtained the printing of the plantation, and several volumes of Bishop Berkley, an annual Almanac, and conducted a short-lived newspaper. James Franklin

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