From The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, which waspublished in French in Paris a year after Franklin's death in 1790; the first English edition appeared in London in 1793.
I was the youngest Son and the youngest Child but two, and was born in Boston, N. England…My elder brothers were all put to Apprentices to different Trades. I was put to Grammar School at Eight Years of Age, my Father intending to devote me as the Tithe of his Sons to the Service of the Church…
At Ten Years old, I was taken home to assist my Father in his Business, which was that of a Tallow Chandler and Sope-Boiler. A Business he was not bred to, but had assumed on his Arrival in New England and on finding his Dying Trade would not maintain his Family, being in little Request. Accordingly I was employed in cutting Wick for the Candles, filling the Dipping Mold, and the Molds for cast Candles, attending the Shop, going for Errands, etc. I dislik'd the trade and had a strong Inclination for the Sea; but my Father declar'd against it; however, living near the Water, I was much in and about it, learnt early to swim well, and to manage Boats, and when in a Boat or Canoe with other Boys I was commonly allow'd to govern, especially in any case of Difficulty; and upon other Occasions I was generally a leader among the Boys, and sometimes led them into Scrapes, of which I will mention one instance, as it shows an early projecting public Spirit, tho' not then justly conducted.
There was a Salt Marsh that bounded part of the Mill Pond, on the Edge of Which at Highwater, we us'd to stand to fish for Minews. By much Trampling, we had made it a mere Quagmire. My Propsal was to build a Wharf there fit for is to stand upon, and I show'd my Comrades a large Heap of Stones which were intended for a new House near the Marsh, and which would very well suit our Purpose. Accordingly in the Evening when the Workmen were gone, I assembled a Number of my Playfellows, and working diligently like so many Emmets (ants) sometimes two or three to a Stone, we brought them all away and built our little Wharf. The next Morning the Workmen were surpris'd at missing the Stones; which were found in our Wharff; Enquiry was made after the Removers; we were discover'd and complain'd of; several of us were corrected by our Fathers; and tho' I pleaded the Usefulness of the Work, mine convinc'd me that nothing was useful which was not honest.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 2nd edition (Yale University Press, 1964).