Silence Dogood letters


© History Oasis
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

—Mark Twain

In the world, there are few things as beguiling and whimsical as the adventures of a clever youth.

A tale of such caliber is found nestled in the infancy of America, where a young Benjamin Franklin, aged but fifteen, set his sights on a literary endeavor that would turn heads and tickle fancies.

Now, this fellow was not your ordinary, puerile boy lost in the woods of adolescence.

No, sir, he was a young man with a heart aflame with wit and a head brimming with ideas, just waiting to overflow onto the pages of the New-England Courant.

The lad, in his ingenuity, devised a plan to scribe letters under the pseudonym of Silence Dogood, a supposed middle-aged widow.

Now, you might say, why a widow, of all people? To that, I say, do not underestimate the voice of a woman scorned by life, for she can draw upon the wells of wisdom that no man could claim to know.

This is the tale of the Silence Dogood letters.


Young Benjamin Franklin
© History Oasis

Young Benjamin was employed at his brother James' printing press.

The young fox, wanting to keep his identity a secret, would sneak his letters under the shop's door at night, allowing them to be discovered come morning.

It was a scheme most clever, as if the night itself conspired with our young scribe to weave tales of wit and wisdom under the cover of darkness.


Silence Dogood
© History Oasis

Silence Dogood was not just a name, but a voice, a voice that resonated with the readers of the Courant.

The letters, narrated through the perspective of a widow, were drenched in satire that stung like a bee and illuminated like a firefly in the dead of the night.

They criticized society's treatment of women, a bold move in a man's world. Silence Dogood, in her own quaint way, became an early voice for the fairer sex.


Boston 1700s
© History Oasis

Dogood's letters, so full of sagacity and wit, were published in the Courant and lapped up by its readers.

They admired her sharp insights and the brilliant satire that was woven into her words. From taverns to tea parties, Silence Dogood became the talk of the town, her letters eagerly anticipated by the Courant's readership.


© History Oasis

Here is where our tale takes a turn for the humorous.

Our fictional widow was so convincing that she found herself at the receiving end of numerous marriage proposals. Yes, dear reader, the male readers of the Courant were so smitten by Silence Dogood's wit and wisdom that they wished to make her their wife.

I reckon it's not every day that a fictional character receives marriage proposals!


Benjamin FRanklin
© History Oasis

After scribing sixteen letters, our young Benjamin finally revealed to his brother that he was the man behind the woman.

James Franklin was not amused.

He was not one to take kindly to being fooled, even if it was by his own flesh and blood.

This led to a rather bitter parting between the brothers, with Benjamin setting off for Philadelphia.

It was a significant turn of events, for in Philadelphia, our young scribe would go on to become one of the greatest minds America has ever known.


Silence Dogood criticizing puritan society
© History Oasis

Silence Dogood's letters were not merely entertaining pieces of literature.

They were profound social and political critiques, questioning religious hypocrisy and the education system.

Looking back, one can see that these letters were a precursor to Franklin's later activism and involvement in political and social matters. They were the seedlings of thought that grew into a mighty tree of reform and revolution.


scene from National Treasure
© History Oasis

As the years passed and the leaves of time turned, the Silence Dogood letters became artifacts of immense historical significance.

In the year of 2008, one of these original letters was auctioned off for a hefty sum of $372,000.

A fortune, I tell you, for the scribblings of a clever teenager, but a fortune well-spent considering the letters' historical value and connection to Benjamin Franklin.

Moreover, these letters found their way into the reel of modernity.

In the 2004 motion picture, "National Treasure," the Silence Dogood letters played a crucial role in the narrative.

Our protagonist, a fellow played by Nicolas Cage, used clues hidden in these letters to find a treasure. Indeed, art imitating life, for was it not a treasure that young Benjamin Franklin found in his words as Silence Dogood?


© History Oasis

The Silence Dogood letters, precious relics of an era gone by, are now preserved in various museums across the United States.

The Massachusetts Historical Society, for instance, is one of the proud keepers of these letters.

They stand as a testament to the wit, wisdom, and audacity of a young man who dared to voice his thoughts and, in doing so, left an indelible mark on society.

So, dear reader, as we conclude this tale of a teenager's audacious literary endeavor, we are reminded of the power of words and the courage it takes to challenge societal norms.

The Silence Dogood letters stand as a testament to the power of the written word, reminding us that sometimes, the mightiest voice can come from the most unexpected places.

As the good Samuel Clemens, known to many as Mark Twain, once said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Indeed, young Benjamin Franklin got started, and look how far ahead he got!