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Abstract

This dissertation covers the time period from David Hall's arrival in Philadelphia as Franklin's employee and business partner, to Hall's purchase of Franklin's share of the printing business and later career. Kany shows that Franklin's printing reputation was enhanced by the work of David Hall.

Background note

David Hall (1714-1772, APS, 1772). Printer and business partner of Benjamin Franklin. Scottish journeyman printer invited by Benjamin Franklin in 1743 to Philadelphia to join his printing firm. Subsequently, he entered into partnership with Franklin in 1748. Hall ran Franklin’s newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette so successfully, that in 1766, he bought out Franklin and formed the new printing firm of Hall and Sellers.

Hall was born in Westfield, Scotland in 1714, just outside of Edinburgh. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed for five years to the Scottish printing firm of John Mosman and William Brown. In a letter dated January 17, 1743 Hall’s friend William Strahan inquired on his behalf to an American correspondent James Read of Philadelphia about openings for printers in the colonies. He recommended Hall, who he described as “obliging, discreet, industrious and honest.” Read showed the letter to his brother-in-law Benjamin Franklin, who was looking for a journeyman printer; and on July 10, Franklin invited him to come to Philadelphia. Franklin acquired not only a competent journeyman printer, but also a reliable correspondent and agent, who could supply British publications for sale in the Philadelphia printing office. In 1748, Franklin, busy with other interests and public affairs, made Hall a partner. Afterward Hall maintained the printing business for the firm of Franklin and Hall, also editing and publishing Franklin’s newspaper the Pennsylvania Gazette. In February 1766 Franklin sold his share in the business to Hall. Later in May of that year, Hall brought William Sellers, who had been his journeyman printer, into the business to establish the partnership of Hall and Sellers. The new firm carried on government printing, including paper money for the Province of Pennsylvania. Hall also had a bookselling and stationery shop related to his printing shop.

Hall quickly acclimated to his new city of Philadelphia. On January 7, 1748 he married Mary Leacock/Laycock in Christ Church. The couple had four children. Hall was a founding member of the St. Andrews Society of which he was an active member, printing its constitution, rules, and membership roll in 1769. He was also a member of the Union Library Company, later absorbed by the Library Company of Philadelphia. He was a Mason and in 1762 was Master of his lodge No. 2 in Philadelphia. He was also a contributor to the Pennsylvania Hospital, the Silk Society and to the College of Philadelphia. Although elected to the American Philosophical Society on March 8, 1768, he showed little interest in the Society and appears never to have attended a meeting. Nevertheless, Hall was selected for a committee in 1771 to determine the selling price for the first volume of the Transactions, which was published that year. Hall died in Philadelphia on December 24, 1772, and was buried in the Christ Church cemetery.

Collection information

Provenance

Presented by Robert Hurd Kaney and accessioned, 1963 (1963 2523ms).

General physical description

1 volume, 308 p., typed carbon.

Indexing Terms

Genre(s)

  • Biographies.
  • Dissertations.

Personal Name(s)

  • Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790
  • Hall, David, 1714-1772
  • Kany, Robert Hurd.

Subject(s)

  • Printers -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.
  • Printing -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia.