American History: Silence Dogood Letters

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The Silence Dogood Letters were written by Benjamin Franklin at the young age of sixteen. At the time he was working for his younger brother James, who was jealous of young Ben Franklin’s ability, and did not have much freedom. He then created a character for himself named, Silence Dogood. He would disguise his handwriting and his style so that his brother would not learn who the person behind the letters were and he would drop them off at the front door of the New England Courant. James would then find them, read them, and publish them under the name Silence Dogood. The name Silence Dogood was actually influenced by a Cotton Mather sermon and was a vehicle for Franklin to poke fun at the religious hypocrisy of Boston, Drunkards, and the lack of rights for woman.

Silence Dogood was a widow of three children. Franklin was so good at portraying her that many men, upon finding out that she was single, wrote in and said they would marry her. Unfortunately for these men Silence was not a real woman and therefore could not marry any of them.

American History: Silence Dogood Letters

The letters marked the first time in Benjamin Franklin’s life that he used a pseudonym as a vehicle for his point. Throughout his career of being a printer Franklin always used pseudonyms as a way of getting his point across. His most famous pseudonym, until the movie National Treasure, was Richard Saunders from Poor Richard’s Almanack. This pseudonym was so popular that John Paul Jones named the Bonhomme Richard after him.