The Town of Franklin is a city in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Franklin is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that have applied for, and been granted, city forms of government but wish to retain “The town of” in their official names. As of 2010, the city’s population was 31,635. It is home to the country’s first public library, the Franklin Public Library with its first books donated by Benjamin Franklin in 1790. It also contains the largest Catholic parish in the Boston Archdiocese, St. Mary’s Catholic church, with some 15,000 members. Franklin was first settled by Europeans in 1660 and officially incorporated during the American Revolution.
The town was formed from the western part of the town of Wrentham, and it was officially incorporated on March 2, 1778; its designated name at incorporation was to be Exeter. However, the town’s citizens opted to call it Franklin, in honor of the statesman Benjamin Franklin, the first municipality in the U.S. to be so named. It was hoped that Benjamin Franklin would donate a bell for a church steeple in the town, but he donated 116 books instead, beginning a debate over who should be allowed access to these books. On November 20, 1790, it was decided that the volumes would be lent to the residents of Franklin for free via its library, which has been in operation since then as the Franklin Public Library.
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