Franklin’s greatest business accomplishment came from the publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack. On December 28, 1732 Franklin published his first almanac under the pseudonym of Richard Saunders. The almanac was published for the year of 1733 and was published once a year for the next 25 years. It contained all sorts of interesting information such as the calendar, weather predictions, sayings, poems and demographics. It also included recipes, trivia, advice, aphorisms, and proverbs about industry and frugality. Franklin considered it a vehicle of instruction for common people who could not afford books, a literature for the masses. Almanacs were the most read secular books in the colonies.
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The almanac was a best seller in the American colonies printing up to 10,000 copies a year. Its success brought wealth to Benjamin Franklin. Poor Richard’s Almanack was so popular that Napoleon ordered it translated into Italian and later it was also translated into French.
Franklin’s legacy as a statesman and visionary could have obscured the significance of Poor Richard’s Almanack, but the almanac’s enduring appeal is based partly on its still-relevant maxims and its still-relevant evocations of what today are called middle-class values. Franklin’s own affection for the moderation that runs through the maxims characterizes his later career, sometimes to the frustration of his political friends.