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Selected Materials from Book - The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin July 24, 2007


The autobiography was first addressed to his son. Born from mother, Abiah Folger, second wife to his father, Josiah, was the youngest son, youngest but two, among seventeen children. His father delegated each of them to a trade. Given his fond for reading and an older brother already took on as printer, Benjamin was served as an apprentice to his older brother at an early age of twelve. At age of sixteen, after reading a book suggests of vegetarian diet, he accustomed to it. Learned to be modest diffidence at early, stress on avoiding using words of certainties, he made himself pleasing to hearers.


In 1720 or 1721, his brother begun to print the second newspaper in America, called New England Courant(Second to Boston news-letters). Due to some dispute with the House, The House desisted his brother from produce anymore newspaper. However, the newspaper continued under Benjamin name. At length, differences arose between the two siblings. His brother further prevented young Benjamin from getting other printing jobs in town, Benjamin finally determined to travel to New York to look for opportunities at age of seventeen. From a job offer to a local print shop in Philadelphia, he set out for the sea and eventually land a job at Keimer printing house. In a letter to his brother-in-law, Sir William Keith, the Governor, took notice of his letter. Soon they met, and Sir William urged him to return to his father in Boston with his recommending letters of procuring businesses for government. Although his father disapproved the deal, but granted his blessing to Benjamin as he set sail for New York.


On the way, he received the money from Vernon, which was due to his brother-in-law. He noted it’s was one of his greatest errata to break into this money. It was used to cover much of his old friend, Collin, drinking and daily needs. In the meantime, he received an order from Sir William to travel to London to account an inventory. Annis was the only ship traveled from London and Philadelphia and once a year. So he continued worked at Keimers. Prior to leaving, he proposed to Miss Read, but her mother refused, suggested perhaps until he returns.


He traveled to London with his good friend Ralph, who left his wife and kids, later stayed London. Benjamin spent about eighteen month in London, working hard at his printing business and acquainted with many prominent people. But Ralph had kept him poor through continuing burrowing from Benjamin and eventually left without paying the debt.

Went back in Philly, Benjamin and Meredith started a printer business, with Meredith’s father providing the funding. Through his writing and principle, their business started to draw many attentions, including the Assembly Committee. The business grew; eventually he brought out their partnership from Meredith and also the old Keimer’s print shop at discount and soon became only one of two newspapers in Philly. The other one was Bradford, who did little printing but had better distributors of advertisement.


Around this time, he found the first Social Club, called JUNTO, to discuss and improve any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy. Many topics were debated among their members, the topics which in a way fuel the material that was needed for Benjamin’s printing.


In September 1st, 1730, he married Miss Read, her second marriage, and who did much of her share in supporting Benjamin in running the printer shop. In JUNTO, he formed a common library, but due to inconveniences of care of the collection, the common library was separated and each contributor took back their books. However, the idea lived on. Later, he obtained a company which became the first subscription library of North America.

Around here, an insert of a letter from Mr. Benjamin Vaughan, was introduced, who urges Franklin to write an autobiography, so that he might influence others with his prudence. In response, Benjamin listed his thirteen virtues (which you can find in my other book reviews, Art of Virtue and Poor Richards Almanac) and the techniques he used to practice them into everyday perfection. He commented Order gave him the most difficulty.


To aid in his writing, Benjamin learned French, then Italian and afterward Spanish. All this time, he kept JUNTO active and later in secret to avoid improper person for admittance. The members of club grew into a very influential media for him. Through his social and public affairs, he formed a Union Fire Company, essential the first fire department; an academy, which was later the University of Philadelphia; proposed public service and better sewer system; projected a plan for union of all colonies under one government during the revolution era; later through his patriotism and wartime effort and ideas, he was appointed as captain and colonel, which he admitted he was not qualify for. Sometime after 1746, he accounted experiments of electricity proposed by Merrs Dalibard and De Lor in his book and later proved a success experiment of draw electricity from a kite.


The autobiography ended with words, unfinished.


Here some quotes from the book.


He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, that he whom you yourself have obliged.


That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should freely and generously.


apply to all those whom you know will give something; next, to those whom you are uncertain whether they will give any thing or not, and show them the list of those who have given; and, lastly, do not neglect those who you are sure will give nothing, for in some of them you may be mistaken.


I think the practice was not wise; for, in the course of my observation, these disputing, contradicting, and confuting people are generally unfortunate in their affairs. They get victory sometimes, but they never get good will, which would be more use to them.

I have always thought that one man of tolerable abilities may work great changes, and accomplish great affairs among mankind, if he fist forms a good plan, and, cutting off all amusements or other employments that would divert his attention, makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.


The wisest man will receive lights and improve his progress by seeing detailed the conduct of another wise man.

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