Manual The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin | Study Guide

He had intended this as a basis for a projected sect but, Franklin says, did not pursue the project. In , Franklin first publishes his Poor Richard's Almanac , which becomes very successful. He also continues his profitable newspaper. In , a preacher named Rev. Samuel Hemphill arrives from County Tyrone Ireland; Franklin supports him and writes pamphlets on his behalf. However, someone finds out that Hemphill has been plagiarizing portions of his sermons from others, although Franklin rationalizes this by saying he would rather hear good sermons taken from others than poor sermons of the man's own composition.

Franklin studies languages, reconciles with his brother James, and loses a four-year-old son to smallpox.

Franklin's club, the Junto , grows and breaks up into subordinate clubs. Franklin becomes Clerk of the General Assembly in thus entering politics for the first time, and the following year becomes Comptroller to the Postmaster General , which makes it easier to get reports and fulfill subscriptions for his newspaper. He proposes improvements to the city' watch and fire prevention regulations. The famed preacher George Whitefield arrives in , and despite significant differences in their religious beliefs, Franklin assists Whitefield by printing his sermons and journals and lodging him in his house.

As Franklin continues to succeed, he provides the capital for several of his workers to start printing houses of their own in other colonies. He makes further proposals for the public good, including some for the defense of Pennsylvania, which cause him to contend with the pacifist position of the Quakers. In he invents the Franklin stove , refusing a patent on the device because it was for "the good of the people".

He proposes an academy, which opens after money is raised by subscription for it and it expands so much that a new building has to be constructed for it. Franklin obtains other governmental positions city councilman , alderman , burgess, justice of the peace and helps negotiate a treaty with the Indians. After helping Dr. Thomas Bond establish a hospital , he helps pave the streets of Philadelphia and draws up a proposal for Dr.

John Fothergill about doing the same in London.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Audiobook

In Franklin becomes Deputy Postmaster General. The next year, as war with the French is expected, representatives of the several colonies, including Franklin, meet with the Indians to discuss defense; Franklin at this time draws up a proposal for the union of the colonies, but it is not adopted. General Braddock arrives with two regiments , and Franklin helps him secure wagons and horses, but the general refuses to take Ben's warning about danger from hostile Indians during Braddock's planned march to Frontenac now Kingston, Ontario.

When Braddock's troops are subsequently attacked, the general is mortally wounded and his forces abandon their supplies and flee. A militia is formed on the basis of a proposal by Benjamin Franklin, and the governor asks him to take command of the northwestern frontier. With his son as aide de camp , Franklin heads for Gnadenhut, raising men for the militia and building forts.

Returning to Philadelphia, he is chosen colonel of the regiment ; his officers honor him by personally escorting him out of town. This attention offends the proprietor of the colony Thomas Penn , son of William Penn when someone writes an account of it in a letter to him, whereupon the proprietor complains to the government in England about Franklin. Declining to respond on the grounds that anyone could duplicate and thus verify his experiments, Franklin sees another French author refute Nollet, and as Franklin's book is translated into other languages, its views are gradually accepted and Nollet's are discarded.

Franklin is also voted an honorary member of the Royal Society. A new governor arrives, but disputes between the assembly and the governor continue. Since the colonial governors are bound to fulfill the instructions issued by the colony's proprietor, there is a continuing struggle for power between the legislature and the governor and proprietor. The assembly is on the verge of sending Franklin to England to petition the King against the governor and proprietor, but meanwhile Lord Loudoun arrives on behalf of the English government to mediate the differences.

Franklin nevertheless goes to England accompanied by his son, after stopping at New York and making an unsuccessful attempt to be recompensed by Loudoun for his outlay of funds during his militia service. They arrive in England on July 27, Written sometime between November and Franklin's death on April 17, , this section is very brief. After Franklin and his son arrive in London, the former is counselled by Dr. Fothergill on the best way to advocate his cause on behalf of the colonies. Franklin visits Lord Grenville, president of the King's Privy Council , who asserts that the king is the legislator of the colonies.

Franklin then meets the proprietaries the switch to the plural is Franklin's, so apparently others besides Thomas Penn are involved. But the respective sides are far from any kind of agreement. The proprietaries ask Franklin to write a summary of the colonists' complaints; when he does so, their solicitor for reasons of personal enmity delays a response.

Over a year later, the proprietaries finally respond to the assembly, regarding the summary to be a "flimsy Justification of their Conduct. While the assembly thanks Franklin, the proprietaries, enraged at the governor, turn him out and threaten legal action against him; in the last sentence, Franklin tells us the governor "despis'd the Threats, and they were never put in Execution".

Benjamin Franklin. His Autobiography. The Harvard Classics

The Autobiography remained unpublished during Franklin's lifetime. This translation of Part One only was based on a flawed transcript made of Franklin's manuscript before he had revised it. This French translation was then retranslated into English in two London publications of , and one of the London editions served as a basis for a retranslation into French in in an edition which also included a fragment of Part Two. Franklin did not include Part Four because he had previously traded away the original hand-written holograph of the Autobiography for a copy that contained only the first three parts.

Furthermore, he felt free to make unauthoritative stylistic revisions to his grandfather's autobiography, and on occasion followed the translated and retranslated versions mentioned above rather than Ben Franklin's original text. Franklin's text was the standard version of the Autobiography for half a century, until John Bigelow purchased the original manuscript in France and in published the most reliable text that had yet appeared, including the first English publication of Part Four.

In , J. Leo Lemay and P. Zall produced The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: A Genetic Text, attempting to show all revisions and cancellations in the holograph manuscript. This, the most accurate edition of all so far published, served as a basis for Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography: A Norton Critical Edition and for the text of this autobiography printed in the Library of America's edition of Franklin's Writings. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin also became the first full-length audiobook in history, which was voiced by actor Michael Rye and released in In Frank Woodworth Pine's introduction of the publication published by Henry Holt and Company, Pine wrote that Franklin's biography provided the "most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men" with Franklin as the greatest exemplar of the " self-made man ".

Franklin is a good type of our American manhood. Although not the wealthiest or the most powerful, he is undoubtedly, in the versatility of his genius and achievements, the greatest of our self-made men.

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 75 – The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1793)

The simple yet graphic story in the Autobiography of his steady rise from humble boyhood in a tallow-chandler shop, by industry, economy, and perseverance in self-improvement, to eminence, is the most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men.

It is in itself a wonderful illustration of the results possible to be attained in a land of unequaled opportunity by following Franklin's maxims. Franklin's Autobiography has received widespread praise, both for its historical value as a record of an important early American and for its literary style. It is often considered the first American book to be taken seriously by Europeans as literature.

Lawrence wrote a notable invective against the "middle-sized, sturdy, snuff-coloured Doctor Franklin" [5] in , finding considerable fault with Franklin's attempt at crafting precepts of virtue and at perfecting himself. Nevertheless, responses to The Autobiography have generally been more positive than Twain's or Lawrence's, with most readers recognizing it as a classic of literature and relating to the narrative voice of the author.

In this work, Franklin's persona comes alive and presents a man whose greatness does not keep him from being down-to-earth and approachable, who faces up to mistakes and blunders "errata" he has committed in life, and who presents personal success as something within the reach of anyone willing to work hard enough for it.


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Written in simple, often humorous language, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin offered readers in the new United States an accessible, exemplary narrative of American upward mobility. The Autobiography is arranged in four parts, each with a distinct purpose and tone, though Franklin intended for the work to be read fluidly as a whole. He began writing The Autobiography in , during a stay in London of more than ten years as a mediator between England and the American colonies.

As a young man, Franklin traveled to England in to expand his knowledge of the printing trade and then returned to Philadelphia where he would seize production of The Pennsylvania Gazette from Samuel Keimer c. After thirty years of building his reputation as a printer and civic leader, Franklin also spent five years in England as a diplomat for the Pennsylvania Assembly beginning in Franklin documents his childhood and adolescence, including his arrival in Philadelphia and his achievements in the printing business. He recounts his lineage, depicts his early life in Boston, and documents his apprenticeship with his brother James , a printer.

After a dispute with his brother, at the young age of seventeen Franklin leaves his apprenticeship and resolves to move secretly to New York. There, he has trouble finding work and thus moves to Philadelphia. Upon his arrival to Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin walked on High Street later Market Street , which can be seen in this map of the city grid by cartographer Thomas Holme This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, Franklin creates a life for himself. He attempts to find work as a printer and struggles with financial burdens.


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  7. Throughout his young adulthood, Franklin spends time in London studying the printing trade Franklin finds work as a printer with Samuel Keimer and in buys his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, and eventually becomes the official printer for the Pennsylvania Assembly. French painter Anne-Rosalie Bocquet Filleul and her husband were friendly with Benjamin Franklin at the time when she painted this portrait.

    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

    The painting, oil on canvas, depicts Franklin in his early seventies, gesturing toward a piece of paper on a table and accompanied by a pair of bifocals, which Franklin has been credited with inventing. Franklin began writing Part Two of his autobiography in while serving as the United States minister plenipotentiary to France.

    Franklin puts forth a plan to develop one virtue per week, intending to eventually perfect all thirteen virtues. Although inspirational for many, the message of self-improvement also drew negative criticism from such notable and varied figures as John Adams and Abigail Adams , Mark Twain , and D.

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    Nevertheless, Franklin developed Puritan and Quaker influences into a message that mass audiences found instructive. Franklin is greeted by Judge Thomas McKean , standing at the right, and two African American porters wait with a sedan chair. Library of Congress. Franklin returned to writing his autobiography from to , following his return from France in and his participation in the Constitutional Convention May September 17, Now in his eighties, Franklin in Part Three reflects on his life from through the late s and highlights his involvement in politics, science, and publishing.

    At this time, Franklin also began to revise the already completed parts of The Autobiography manuscript. Franklin uses the almanac and his newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette, to achieve his goal of educating common people.

    At age 17, Franklin left Boston because

    Franklin becomes clerk of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania and then deputy postmaster of Philadelphia, which allows him to distribute his Gazette by mail. In , Franklin is appointed postmaster general of America. Franklin also publishes influential pamphlets, such as Plain Truth , which outlines the need for colonial unity, and Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Philadelphia , which leads to the creation of the Academy of Philadelphia in in , renamed the University of Pennsylvania.

    He also recounts his activities in science and invention, including the invention of the stove in and the notable kite experiment, which concluded that lightning and electricity are, in fact, one and the same. Culminating two decades of publishing, political, and scientific, advancements, the Pennsylvania Assembly appoints Franklin to the role of commissioner to England in Visit Philadelphia. In , after the Penn family agreed to provide financial assistance to Pennsylvania for events transpiring in the colony, such as the French and Indian War , Franklin returns to Philadelphia.

    By the next year, American editions based on the retranslated edition circulated in New York and Philadelphia. An accessible text, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin continues to be read widely by students and scholars in the twenty-first century. Baker, Jennifer Jordan. Bobker, Danielle. Fichtelberg, Joseph. Forde, Steven. Franklin, Benjamin, and Joyce E. New York: W. Norton, Franklin, Benjamin, and Paul M. Franklin On Franklin. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky,