The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
About This Book
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin - Benjamin Franklin - The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is the traditional name for the unfinished record of his own life written by Benjamin Franklin from 1771 to 1790; however, Franklin himself appears to have called the work his Memoirs. Although it had a tortuous publication history after Franklin's death, this work has become one of the most famous and influential examples of an autobiography ever written.Franklin's account of his life is divided into four parts, reflecting the different periods at which he wrote them. There are actual breaks in the narrative between the first three parts, but Part Three's narrative continues into Part Four without an authorial break.- Part One of the Autobiography is addressed to Franklin's son William, at that time (1771) Royal Governor of New Jersey. While in England at the estate of the Bishop of St Asaph in Twyford, Franklin, now 65 years old, begins by saying that it may be agreeable to his son to know some of the incidents of his father's life; so with a week's uninterrupted leisure, he is beginning to write them down for William. He starts with some anecdotes of his grandfather, uncles, father and mother.- The second part begins with two letters Franklin received in the early 1780s while in Paris, encouraging him to continue the Autobiography, of which both correspondents have read Part One. (Although Franklin does not say so, there had been a breach with his son William after the writing of Part One, since the father had sided with the Revolutionaries and the son had remained loyal to the British Crown.) At Passy, a suburb of Paris, Franklin begins Part Two in 1784, giving a more detailed account of his public library plan. He then discusses his "bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral Perfection", listing thirteen virtues he wishes to perfect in himself. He creates a book with columns for each day of the week, in which he marks with black spots his offenses against each virtue.- Part Three - Beginning in August 1788 when Franklin had returned to Philadelphia, the author says he will not be able to utilize his papers as much as he had expected since many were lost in the recent Revolutionary War. He has, however, found and quotes a couple of his writings from the 1730s that survived. One is the "Substance of an intended Creed" consisting of what he then considered to be the "Essentials" of all religions. He had intended this as a basis for a projected sect but, Franklin says, did not pursue the project.In 1732, Franklin first publishes his Poor Richard's Almanac, which becomes very successful. He also continues his profitable newspaper. In 1734, 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.- Part Four - Written sometime between November 1789 and Franklin's death on April 17, 1790, 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.
Access to over 1 million titles for a fair monthly price.
Study more efficiently using our study tools.