THE GLENCOE LITERATURE LIBRARY
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin
Meet Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin thought that his older brother James was too hard on him, and they often fought. When his apprenticeship ended, Franklin went to Philadelphia. This city, far more than his birthplace of Boston, became Franklin’s home. In Philadelphia he established his own business and raised his family. After Franklin retired from business in 1748, he embarked on a new career as a civil servant. He served in the Pennsylvania Assembly and became deputy postmaster-general. Sent to England as a representative of the Assembly, he spent five years there. ...view middle of the document...
He was a delegate to the 1787 convention at which the U.S. Constitution was drafted. Three years later, in 1790, he died. Franklin’s long list of diplomatic and political accomplishments is impressive. However, he also contributed to the well-being of the colonists on an everyday level. His inventions include a stove that burned better than most, bifocals, and the lightning rod.
If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.
—Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack, 1738
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enjamin Franklin was a true Renaissance man. He was a diplomat, philosopher, inventor, scientist, and businessman. He wrote letters, articles, pamphlets, scientific papers, and an autobiography. Despite his later prominence, Franklin had humble beginnings. Franklin’s father, Josiah, had seventeen children from two marriages. Benjamin was the fifteenth child, born in 1706, and the youngest son. Josiah was a candlemaker and soapmaker in Boston, and he had to struggle to support his large family. At first, Josiah Franklin planned to have Benjamin become a minister. But, after considering the expense of educating his son and the poor financial prospects in that profession, he decided that Benjamin should learn a trade instead. Because Benjamin showed an interest in reading and writing, Josiah apprenticed him to another of his sons, James, a printer. Franklin identified himself with this trade to his last days, even though he retired from his own printing house when he was only forty-two years old.
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Study Guide
Introducing the Novel
[T] here are some books that never lose their appeal. . . . They are as vivid and interesting today as they ever were, and they will continue to be so until humanity itself has changed. . . . Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography is one of these. It is the first American success story.
—from the introduction of a 1941 edition of the autobiography, published by Walter J. Black, New York
Benjamin Franklin was a prolific writer. In his many pamphlets, he wrote about everything from paper currency to the “proper” relationship between a king and his colonies. He wrote scholarly articles about electricity and other scientific topics, and his almanac was full of practical advice on all manner of topics. He also wrote hundreds of newspaper articles on social and political subjects. Only in his autobiography did Franklin write about himself. Although it does not provide a chronological account of his life, it does shed light on the actions that Franklin took to rise from poverty to prominence.Written over a span of eighteen years, the autobiography is generally divided into four parts. The first part of the manuscript was written in 1771 in Twyford, a village about fifty miles outside of London. Franklin composed it for the benefit of his son, William, who was governor...