Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Ben Franklin escaped poverty
-- and how his sister couldn't

The lives of Benjamin Franklin and his younger sister tell an 18th-century tale of two Americas. Against poverty and ignorance, Benny Franklin prevailed; his sister Jenny did not.

Their father was a Boston candle-maker, scraping by. Massachusetts’ Poor Law required teaching boys to write; the mandate for girls ended at reading. Benny went to school for just two years; Jenny never went at all.

But their story is a reminder that, especially for women, escaping poverty has always depended on the opportunity for an education and the ability to control the size of their families.

Read more in The New York Times here.


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