Silence Dogood wasthe pen name for 16-year-old Benjamin Franklin in the newspaper the New England Courant. Mrs. Dogood was a “middle-aged widow” Franklin created in order to be published in the Courant, a paper printed at his Brother’s Print Shop in Boston.
There are many facinating aspects to the Silence Dogood character and Franklin’s use of her. I love how he created the entire background of the character, making her sound convincing and like a credible source, which many would not think of 16-year-old Franklin himself. It’s easy to see how his early views in life influenced his later more widely known and important (?) role in the framing of the United States and help with the Constitution. He used this character to convey the ideals that he had and by using a “credible” source was able to share them with the public through these letters to the editor.
“Know then, That I am an Enemy to Vice, and a Friend to Vertue. I am one of an extensive Charity, and a great Forgiver of private Injuries: A hearty Lover of the Clergy and all good Men, and a mortal Enemy to arbitrary Government & unlimited Power. I am naturally very jealous for the Rights and Liberties of my Country; & the least appearance of an Incroachment on those invaluable Priviledges, is apt to make my Blood boil exceedingly.”
As a fan of pen names for various reasons, including but not limited to free-speech that is often restricted to many despite what the constitution says and the ability to speak one’s mind on possibly sensitive matters without the threat of backlash, I find it completely understandable and even encourageable to use a pen name.