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Franklin takes a very rational view of marriage at one point in the Autobiography. At the behest of a mutual friend, he begins a courtship of a woman that ends with discussion of marriage. When it is revealed that the girl's family does not have sufficient money to serve as a dowry (which Franklin hopes to use to pay off the debts he incurred setting up his printing business,) Franklin suggests that the girl's parents mortgage their house to come up with the sum. When they refuse, and withdraw their daughter from consideration, Franklin "declared absolutely my resolution to have nothing more to do with that family."
His thoughts, however, had turned to marriage, and he soon married Deborah Read, who he describes as "a good and faithful helpmate" who "assisted me much by attending the shop." The marriage was a common law marriage, since Deborah was married to a man in England, and had never secured an annulment. Though Franklin has little else to say about his wife, she helped raise his child by another woman, William, and remained married to him, helping supervise his affairs during his lengthy absences in England prior to the Revolution. Franklin, however, was not exactly devoted to his wife, and as a recent biographer pointed out, his view of marriage is perhaps encapsulated by a pearl of wisdom from Poor Richard's Almanac: "Keep your eyes wide open before marriage; half shut afterwards."
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