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Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography is broken up into four integral parts, all written during different periods in Franklin’s life. The first part, addressed to his son, William, was written when Franklin was sixty-five years old. Before he began the task of recording his past, Franklin carefully wrote out a list of topics he would narrate to his readers. Eleven years later, this list somehow fell into the hands of Abel James who urged Franklin to finish writing his memoirs. In 1782, Franklin completed the second part of his autobiography in France where he served as a peace commissioner, and in 1788, Franklin composed the longest part of his autobiography at the age of eighty-three.

The tangled history of how Franklin’s autobiography became to be is interesting in itself. It shows Franklin’s motives behind writing his autobiography. When Abel James wrote “kind, humane, and benevolent” Franklin to finish his life story, he told Franklin that his autobiography”would be useful and entertaining not only to a few but to millions (55).” Franklin wrote to his friend and confidant, Vaughan, for advice. Vaughan agreed with James and also urged Franklin to print the history of his life because he could think of no “more efficacious advertisement (56)” of America than Franklin’s history. “All that has happened to you is also connected with the detail of the manners and situation of a rising people (56),” he replied to Franklin.

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It is obvious that when Franklin resumed writing his story, he did so knowing that his story would serve as an example for Americans and as an advertisement to the rest of the world. He wrote his autobiography in full self-consciousness that he was offering himself as a representative of the American citizen. Just as America had succeeded in creating and forming a nation, Franklin was successful in showing how an American went about creating his own character. Instead of being a personal account of his past for his son, Franklin’s autobiography became a model for those who wished to fulfill the rags to riches American Dream. He was successful in fulfilling the image that his public wanted him to play.

Following James’ and Vaughan’s letters, Franklin wrote about some important aspects of creating oneself: the image that one wanted portrays, how to appear generous and humble, keeping informed and educated, giving time and energy to public causes and the thirteen rules to live a virtuous life. Here, in one neat package, Franklin constructed a prescription that went into making a self-made man. In the land of opportunity and democracy, Franklin made a name for himself, and his autobiography reveals how one goes about following his footsteps and making a success of one’s self. In the opening section of his autobiography, Franklin’s message to his son is the same as the one to the rest of the world: how to go about making a success of oneself. “From the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and in which I passed my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of affluence and some degree of celebrity in the world (1),” writes Franklin to his son. The text recording Franklin’s life is more than simply anecdotal: “my posterity will perhaps be desirous of learning the means, which I employed, and which, thanks to Providence, so well succeeded with me. They may also deem them fit to be imitated (1).” The book serves as a guideline for those who read it and would like to imitate Franklin’s actions.

It is exemplary because Franklin’s Autobiography paints a picture of a penniless boy without the assistance of his family, walking down the streets with two large rolls under his arms, who ends up helping to create a new nation. It is about the formation of the character that makes success possible. The purpose of the Autobiography is to show the making of a character in hopes of serving as an example to the American community. Franklin describes that he has “raised himself (2)” and challenges the normal American citizen to follow his steps that will undoubtedly lead to a path of success, honor, and respect. Throughout his autobiography, Franklin insists on distinguishing between appearance and reality, between what he is and what he seems to be.

Franklin tells his readers in so many instances that it is not the reality of things that are important. On the contrary, it is the appearance of things that play a grander part in making a character. In order to secure my credit and character as a tradesman, I took care not only to be in reality industrious and frugal, but to avoid all appearances of the contrary. I dressed plain and was seen at no places of idle diversion. I never went out fishing or shooting; a book, indeed, sometimes debauched me from my work, but that was seldom, and gave no scandal..

Thus being esteemed and industrious, thriving young man, and paying duly for what I bought, the merchants who imported stationary solicited my custom (27). If one wanted to sit with kings, Franklin advised that one should help them see one’s merit. There were a number of “rich merchants, nobility, states, and princes” who were in need of honest people to manage their affairs, and there were “no qualities so likely to make a poor man’s fortune as those of probity and integrity (34).” Early on in his career, Franklin learned that his impeccable appearance and reputation were good for business. Another instance where Franklin points out the importance of appearance takes place in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, Franklin offers to give his shilling away to the people who owned the boat that brought him to his destination.

First, they refuse to accept the payment on grounds that he contributed in rowing the boat. However, Franklin “insisted in their taking it, a man being more generous when he has but a little money that when he has plenty through fear of being thought to have but little (19).” It is odd that Franklin uses the word “fear” in describing how he would feel if people believed that he was poor. Again, in this incident, similar to the one before, Franklin expresses his desire for people to ha …

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Ben Franklin was one of the most amazing men history has recorded. Throughout his lifetime he continued to increase his already genius-level intelligence. He had a high quality of life, was a popular political figure, and he strongly believed in his thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. While he wasnt perfect, that was what he struggled to attain. Bens achievements are very numerous.

Apart from being a genius after only 2 years of schooling, his other achievements show that he was an overachiever. Some of Bens achievements are literature-based. For example, he printed the first novel published in America. He also started the first circulating library in America. Also, year after year, he wrote and published Poor Richards Almanac.

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Those werent his only achievements though. He organized the first hospital, started mail delivery, organized the first fire company, that is, firefighters; and was a city representative, too! All this is just more proof of him being an overachiever. Because of Franklins many inventions and experiments, our lives today are better. Ben made the first copperplate printing press in America, a chair with a built in table for writing, and a chair that turned into a step ladder for his library. He also invented the odometer, a heating unit called the Pennsylvania Stove, the lightning rod, bifocals, an electricity generator, and the armonica.

By experimenting, he proved that dark materials absorb more than light materials, proved lightning was electricity, and did many more experiments with static and regular electricity. He also introduced artificial fertilizer and discovered lead poisoning. We all should be grateful for how he has improved our lifestyle today. Bens childhood started out like anyone elses, but when he became around age 10, he started to become different. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1706. The 15th of 17 children, school was not cheap, so he only got to go for 2 years.

He started out making soap and candles, but after expressing that he didnt like that, he would like to write, he became apprenticed to his brother, James, who was a printer. James wouldnt publish Bens work, so he submitted it under the name Mrs. Silence Dogood. When James found out, Ben ran away to Philadelphia, Where he would marry and live the majority of the rest of his life. Ben started writing as a small boy, when most adults were illiterate. That and reading must have increased his intelligence to its genius state.

Ben Franklin surely was amazing. He found time and money for all he wanted and agreed to do, which was a lot. Without him, Thomas Edison could not have the electricity to create the light bulb. Without him, certain people would have a hard time seeing things close/far away with the same glasses. Without him, we would have no way to tell how many miles are on our cars. Surely, Ben Franklin was magnificent. American History.

Benjamin Franklin

Franklin is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in American history.

The numerous advancements contributed by Franklin were made possible by a lot of
work on his part. His outlook is best represented by his famous quote, Dost
thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made
of. Franklin did not sway from that philosophy, and spent little time at
leisure, as it was not productive. Franklins work ethic, moral outlook, and
constant interest in self-improvement throughout his life are his biggest claims
to fame. Franklins strict adherence to his thirteen virtues-which he created
in his pursuit of moral perfection-is responsible for many of his countless
contributions to the colonies. Very important to Franklins life, was the
little book he carried on his person at all times. In this book, he charted on a
day to day basis, which virtues he had not obeyed, and marked a check for each
mistake. Franklin set aside one week per virtue, and ordered his virtues such
that whenever perfection in a virtue was attained, it would make achieving the
following virtue easier. Franklin found that he had much to improve upon.

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Another ingredient to Franklins recipe for greatness was his daily schedule.

Franklin divided his day up by the hour and knew what he was to be doing at all
times. This he found difficult at times, and involving the virtue Order, at one
time he almost gave up. In one of Franklin’s few pessimistic moments, he is
quoted as saying, This article (order) therefore cost me so much painful
attention, and my faults in it vexed me so muchthat I was almost ready to
give up the attempt and content myself with a faulty character in that
respect. An amusing anecdote about a man who concludes that a speckled axe
is best follows, and in looking back on his life, Franklin demonstrates his
mastery of the thirteenth virtue, Humility. Even before he set his thirteen
virtues to writing, Franklin could be seen demonstrating many of them. In one
instance involving his friend Collins, Franklin demonstrates Resolution,
Justice, and Sincerity. During a voyage, Collins refuses to row, and Franklin
resolves to perform what he must. An argument ensued, and Franklin, knowing that
Collins was a good swimmer, decided the only course of action would be to throw
him overboard. He was in a clear state of mind the whole time, and did
absolutely nothing that he would regret later on. Temperance was also a virtue
that Franklin had practiced his entire life. He was never a heavy drinker, and
always ate in moderation. Franklin prided himself on being an excellent debater,
and while creating his virtues, he added Silence as a guide to others explaining
one reason he was such an excellent crafter of argument. 2. Silence- Speak
not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.

Franklin means for others not to get caught up in petty squabbles, but rather to
speak only to that which is important, and when doing so, only to benefit the
other party. When you mix the Silence virtue with the Sincerity virtue, which
Franklin is quoted as meaning Use no harmful deceit. Think innocently and
justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. you will become well respected,
and a very powerful arguer. Franklin himself was both, and through trials,
tribulations, and experience, sets forth these very useful tools of debate. The
two virtues that Franklin was exceptionally good at were Industry and Frugality.

6. Industry- Lose not time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut off
all unnecessary actions. There was not one time after his childhood during
which Franklin was not employed, or at the very least, seeking work. The little
leisure time Franklin allowed himself was spent in the pursuit of
self-education, by reading books or engaging in conversation or argument with a
friend. During most of his life he held down many jobs throughout the city, and
had other money coming in from the numerous print shops he had gone into
partnership and paid the overhead costs for. 5. Frugality- Make no expence
but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing. Most of the money
Franklin spent went to improving his business or buying a few books, which was
the only leisure he allowed himself. However, even Franklin himself made
mistakes, an example being an excursion with his friend Ralph, to London. He was
sent by the governor with the promise of enough money to set up his own printing
press. Unfortunately for Franklin, the governor backed out of his end of the
deal. He eventually found work, but worked himself into a debt spending money on
seeing plays, and dining with his greedy friend. They eventually separated on
less than good terms, and Franklin never saw the money Ralph owed him.

Franklins view on the situations is as follows, and by the loss of his
friendship, I found myself relieved from a heavy burden. While the preceding
statement may seem harsh, Franklin is very much justified in saying it, and
accurately demonstrates the economical worth he placed on everything he
encountered. In conclusion, Franklins life was shaped by these thirteen
virtues, and he rarely swayed from the moral path they lit. There is no single
virtue that can be selected, and thought of as less important than the rest. The
fame and fortune of such a man as Franklin, who followed these thirteen
guidelines in his journey to become a morally perfect man, is proof enough that
his system worked, and still would work today. However, Franklins virtues,
which he claimed were necessary or desirable, were set by him and for him.

An individual must choose the path down which they wish to trod, and follow it
without hesitation. Franklins virtues can be appreciated and respected, but
how realistically, in todays society, can they all possibly be attained?


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