Odd little typo on Ben Franklin column


I just happened upon a rather confusing sentence that I can only assume contains a typo on a rather pivotal word. (This quotation occurs in the bottom paragraph of

“…Franklin had given a speech at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 warning that Jews prevented a grave danger to the United States and should be expelled.”

What danger did they prevent, exactly? A looming shortage of comically long beards? The lack of scapegoats fiasco of 1766? (Sorry, I couldn’t help it. I’m only kidding around, of course) ;j

My guess is that the typist meant to put “presented” as that would make a great deal more sense in context. I hope the powers that be read this and make the correction. If not, someone’s going to be made a nifter. If so, mozltof!


A dank!


More than having a typo, there is also this statement:

“For what it’s worth, he never formally married his partner of 44 years, Deborah Read, with whom he had two more kids.”

Well, according to this site; http://www.ushistory.org/franklin/facts/ , he DID marry her:

“He was wet, disheveled, and messy when his future wife, Deborah Read, saw him on that day, October, 6, 1723. She thought him odd-looking, never dreaming that seven years later they would be married.”

How about the “straight scoop” along with the Straight Dope? :dubious:

Another page on the same website calls her his “common-law wife”. According to another website, there was some question at the time as to whether her previous husband was dead or not; according to a third, he (John Rogers) was a polygamist.

We’ll fix the prevented/presented typo. Cecil added several comments to the online presentation that were not in the READER column, and those didn’t get the high-scrutiny proofreading that the READER column gets.

I’ll send Ed a wet noodle so he can chastise himself.

Maybe I came off as a little bit snarky, but it did seem as though it was stated as fact that they weren’t “formally” married, while it looks more like nobody knows for sure.

This may be an issue of a cultural divide in terminology and nothing more … Franklin and Read almost certainly never went through a ‘formal’ wedding ceremony at a church, in front of a justice of the peace, or anything like that. Their marriage would have been what we call today a ‘common-law’ marriage, and which we tend to contrast with a ‘real’ marriage (that has a wedding license, an official pronouncing the couple as husband and wife, witnesses signing, etc.) This distinction is not appropriate to the era of Colonial America and the early years of the United States. A couple who moved in together, had kids, and called each other husband and wife, were married, period, in most of the subcultures that existed in that place and era. This can obviously lead to some confusion when looking at that time from ours …

To add to what SCSimmons said, in several U.S. states, including Pennsylvania, marriage under the common law is permitted today.

Under the English common law in effect during the colonial era and retained by about seven states (including PA) today, if a couple agrees that they are married, cohabitiates, and holds themselves out to the public as a married couple, they are legally married exactly the same as if they had a civil or religious ceremonial marriage.

With regard to Cecil’s column in general, Cecil has grossly understated Franklin’s contribution to the founding of the United States through his international service. Among other things, he was the pre-independence colonial representative to England for Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Georgia and New Jersey where he sparked the Hutchinson Affair, one of the precipitating events of independence; he was the wartime minister to France, where he secured both significant loans and a military alliance from the French, without either of which the war would have likely been lost; and he negotiated the Treaty of Paris with the British, which ended the American War of Independence.

Drat. That last entry was by me, not my sister Green Bean, whom I didn’t realize was logged in on this computer.