Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Deborah Read Franklin

Deborah Read married Benjamin Franklin - a great patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence - on September 1, 1730. Deborah was a twenty-five year old native of Philadelphia at the time of her marriage - a few months older than Benjamin.

Benjamin wrote about their first meeting on a Sunday morning in October 1723 in his Autobiography. Franklin was a 17-year-old young man with a loaf of bread under each arm and munching on a third loaf when he walked "up Market Street as far as Fourth, 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 most certainly did, a most awkward, ridiculous appearance."

Franklin established himself as a printer a few months later and became acquainted with Deborah. They were engaged when he went to London to further his business experience. He wrote to Deborah once during his time in England; Deborah married a man name Rogers who was a potter soon after Benjamin departed to London. Potter deserted his young wife soon after their marriage and left only his debts behind him. There were rumors that Potter had another wife somewhere so Deborah might not have been too heart-broken to hear of his death.

Benjamin returned to America in July 1726 and married Deborah more than four years later. Deborah and Franklin lived happily together for more than forty years. Deborah was a "handsome woman" with a "comely figure," but she was also "industrious" and "frugal." Franklin wrote that Deborah was a "good and faithful helpmeet; … we … mutually endeavoured to make each other happy."

Deborah and Benjamin had two children together, a son who died in infancy and a daughter who lived to adulthood. They also raised an illegitimate son of Benjamin's that was born soon after their wedding.

Deborah died of paralysis in December 1774 while Benjamin was in England as the agent for the Province of Pennsylvania. Their daughter, Sarah Franklin, took her mother's place as mistress of the Franklin home before the Revolutionary War started. She was also very patriotic and had great public spirit. I will write later about Sarah.

Facts and quotes are from Wives of the Signers: The women behind the Declaration of Independence, pp. 174-179.

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