1727 marked the deaths of both England’s monarch George I and the English scientist, astronomer, and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton. Born this year were signers of the U.S. Constitution, William Ellery and William Samuel Johnson. In 1727 midwives delivered most babies and the new vaccine against small pox vaccine was still considered daring and controversial. In 1727, the nature of lightening was still undiscovered. Stocks and the pillory were in ordinary use. Stagecoach lines were not yet established. It was into this environment that Benjamin Franklin introduced the Junto.
society was composed of several social classes.
One’s social class determined political and legal rights,
personal attire, even church seating.
The wealthiest, best-educated, and most influential class was the
gentry. The gentry owned
large farms or plantations. Other
gentry class members were merchants, doctors, lawyers, or ministers.
Most community leadership positions were held by the gentry.
The middle class farmed small landholdings, ran small stores and
businesses, or worked at ordinary skilled crafts, such as shoemaking or
woodworking. Women of the
middle class made their own cloth, candles, cheese, soap, and other
goods. Excess supplies were
sold to augment the family income.
Men of the middle class could vote and a few held public office.
The lower class was composed of day laborers, apprentices,
sailors, servants, and slaves. Very
few owned any property at all nor could they read, write, or vote.
The lower class was often very mobile, moving from place to place
in search of work.
family size was
typically nine people, though a household often included stepchildren,
grandparents, aunts, and cousins also. The
head of the house was the father; the mother was his companion and
helper; the children were expected to obey both their parents and all
other authority figures without hesitation.
Unruly or belligerent behavior was dealt with so harshly that the
instruments of discipline would easily be categorized as instruments of
torture by modern society.
homes were lit with fireplaces, candles, and lamps that burned
Most families did not use individual plates, but instead ate from
a common trencher.
Spoons of wood or pewter were often the only utensils on the
Household furnishings were most often local versions of European
goods, four poster beds, feather mattresses, etc.
The rocking chair is the exception.
Benjamin Franklin invented it.
news was exchanged chiefly by word of mouth on the grapevine,
which met at least every Sunday morning.
Official notices were read at church or posted on the doors of
Cities paid a crier who
read announcements to those who couldn't read for themselves.
Often, the only source of news from out-of-town would be visitors
who either bore letters or could directly relate the news themselves.
This informal system of distributing letters was not formalized
into a federal service until 1753 when Benjamin Franklin became the
deputy Postmaster General for the colonies.
Boston had a weekly newspaper by 1704, but newspapers were not
generally available until 1775.
parent-sponsored, not tax payer supported.
"It was not until about the time of the revolution that the
modern signification of the word ‘free’- a school paid for entirely
by general town taxes -- could be applied to the public schools of most
Massachusetts towns, and when the schools of Boston were made free, that
community stood alone for its liberality not only in America, but in the
world” (Earle, 1935, p. 69).
Most schools required parents to participate in providing for the physical needs of the teacher by whatever means available, be that produce, furs, firewood, or chores. In some areas of strong religious persuasion, education was not seen as beneficial. "The Quakers did not encourage absolute illiteracy, but they thought knowledge of the ‘three R's’ was enough; they distinctly disapproved of any extended scholarship, as it fostered undue pride and provoked idleness” (Earle, 1935, p. 71).
1727, Benjamin Franklin introduced the Junto.
Here we present Benjamin Franklin as described in the following
passage from Malcolm Knowles book, The
Making of an Adult Educator:
The Junto is widely regarded as one of the first, if not the first, adult education organizations in America (Smith). It is the natural place to begin an examination of the history of Adult Education.