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Benjamin Franklin

Correspondence, News, History and other Family Data

button Benjamin Franklin's own story of his arrival in Philadelphia as printed in the Cumberland Alleganian newspaper in 1846.


Franklin’s Arrival in Philadelphia
In Franklin’s own narrative of his tedious journey from New York to Philadelphia, after having unadvisedly left his place of apprenticeship with his brother in Boston, in October, 1723, he writes:

"I have been the more particular in this description of my journey, and shall be so of my first entry into that city, that you may in your mind compute such unlikely beginnings with the figure I have since made there. I was in my working dress, my best clothes coming around by sea. I was dirty from my being so long in the boat. My pockets were stuffed cut with shirts and stockings, and I knew no one, nor where to look for lodging. Fatigued with walking, rowing, and the want of sleep, I was very hungry; and my whole stock of cash consisted in a single dollar, and about a shilling in copper coin, which I gave to the boatman for my passage. At first they refused it, on account of my having rowed, but I insisted on their taking it. Man is sometimes more generous when he has little money than when he has plenty; perhaps to prevent his being thought to have but little."

"I walked towards the top of the street, gazing about till near Market street, where I met a boy with bread. I had often made a meal of dry bread and, inquiring where he had bought it, I went immediately to the baker’s he directed me to. I asked fro biscuits, meaning such as we had at Boston – that sort, it seems, was not made in Philadelphia. I then asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told, they had none. Not knowing the different prices, nor the names of the different sorts of bread, I told him to give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me accordingly three great puffy rolls. I was surprised at the quantity, but took it, and, having no room in my pockets, walked off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other. Thus I went up Market street as far as Fourth street, passing by the door of Mr. Read, my future wife’s father; when she, standing at the door, saw me, and thought I made, as I certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance. Then I turned and went down Chestnut street and part of Walnut street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water, and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child, that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go farther.

"Thus refreshed, I walked again up the street, which, by this time, had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was lead into the great meeting-house of the Quakers, near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking around awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy through labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when some one was kind enough to rouse me. This, therefore, was the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia."
 [Taken From the Cumberland Alleganian (Cumberland, MD) June 5 1846, Transcribed by Nancy Piper]




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