Silence Dogood: One of History's Oldest Sibling Pranks

Silence Dogood: One of History's Oldest Sibling Pranks

In most historic paintings Ben Franklin kind of just looks like a boring old guy. We only see him as a Founding Father forever frozen with a receding hairline and matter-of-fact facial expression as he appears on the 100 dollar bill. But in reality, Ben Franklin was actually a very cheeky, playful, and curious guy. One of the first recorded events that show his witty personality took place when he was 12 years old.

In 1722 at age 12, Ben became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben his trade. By the time Ben was 17, he felt that it was only fair that he start contributing to the paper. However, he was denied the chance to write. But that didn’t stop him; he adopted the pen name and persona “Silence Dogood”, a middle-aged widow who would give sage advice in the newspaper. He regularly sild essays under the door of his brother’s office and his brother unwittingly published them. He was going to do what it took to get his chance to have his words read by the public.

Mrs. Dogood’s letters were widely praised and became a subject of conversation around town. This antic was nothing short of clever and gives us a little bit of insight into Ben Franklin’s tenacious and lighthearted personality.

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech” - Silence Dogood. Such wise words for a 17-year-old boy! I guess he had always been wise. Ben Franklin was a very smart person, and I think he knew it. I think he knew that the world needed to hear his words, which we do.