The Autobiography and Other Writings

Overview

Benjamin Franklin's writings represent a long career of literary, scientific, and political efforts over a lifetime which extended nearly the entire eighteenth century. Franklin's achievements range from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanack to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime he knew prominence not only in America but in Britain and France as well. This volume includes Franklin's reflections on such diverse questions as philosophy and religion, social ...
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The Autobiography and Other Writings

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Overview

Benjamin Franklin's writings represent a long career of literary, scientific, and political efforts over a lifetime which extended nearly the entire eighteenth century. Franklin's achievements range from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanack to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime he knew prominence not only in America but in Britain and France as well. This volume includes Franklin's reflections on such diverse questions as philosophy and religion, social status, electricity, American national characteristics, war, and the status of women. Nearly sixty years separate the earliest writings from the latest, an interval during which Franklin was continually balancing between the puritan values of his upbringing and the modern American world to which his career served as prologue. This edition provides a new text of the Autobiography, established with close reference to Franklin's original manuscript. It also includes a new transcription of the 1726 journal, and several pieces which have recently been identified as Franklin's own work.

Publisher, inventor, educator, and statesman, Benjamin Franklin was a complex and appealing character. Here is a wide-ranging selection of his writings from Poor Richard's Almanac, scientific essays, and political commentaries, plus a generous dose of his famous humor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Reasonably priced, comprehensive edition with good selection of other writings."--Virginia Caris, George Washington University

"I really like this edition because of the variety of Franklin's writings represented here. The affordability of this text is greatly appreciated by the students as well."--Lynn Searfoss, Purdue University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142437605
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 542,393
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.92 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Benjamin Franklin, statesman, philosopher, and man of letters, was born in Boston in 1706 of Protestant parents. He entered Boston Grammar School when he was eight and later attended George Brown Ell’s school. When he was twelve his father apprenticed him to his half-brother James as a printer. James was later the publisher of the New England Courant, where Franklin’s first articles, The Dogood Papers, were published before he was seventeen. He went to Philadelphia in 1723 and pursued his trade of printer. He was befriended by William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania, who offered to help the young man get started in business. Franklin left for England, where he hoped to arrange for the purchase of printing equipment. Arriving in London in 1724, he was soon deserted by Keith, and again turned to printing for a livelihood. His privately printed Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain (1725) introduced him to leading Deists and other intellectuals in London. A year later, he returned to Philadelphia, and by 1730 he had been appointed public printer for Pennsylvania. In 1731 he established the first circulation library in the United States; in 1743-44, The American Philosophical Society. In 1748 he retired from the trade of printer but continued to advise and back his partner and to draw profit from the business. Poor Richard’s Almanack was his most spectacular success as a publisher, having gone through numerous editions and been translated in many languages. During the next thirty-five years he devoted himself largely to politics and diplomacy, but still wrote and engaged in scientific ventures. He resigned as Minister to France in 1785, returned to America, and was elected President of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Still concerned with the rights of the individual, he published papers encouraging the abolition of slavery. He died in Philadelphia in 1790.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

PART ONE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Note

PART TWO: SELECTED WRITINGS

I. The Way to Wealth
Plan for Future Conduct / Advice to a Young Girl / The Art of Conversation / Advice to a Young Tradesman / "The Way to Wealth"

II. Essays to Do Good
Standing Queries for the Junto / "A Short Account of the Library" / Fire-Fighting / The American Philosophical Society / The Pennsylvania Academy

III. The New Prometheus, I: Franklin the Scientist
The Young Naturalist / The Meteorologist / Experimenter in Electricity / Franklin's Kite / The Lightning Rod / Humane Slaughtering / The Franklin Stove / The First American Catheter / The Glass Harmonica / Youthful Inventor / Bifocals / The Long Arm

IV. The New Prometheus, II: Franklin and the Revolution
The Stamp Act / After Repeal / The Weapon of Satire / A Counsel of Moderation / America in Arms / The French Alliance / Busy Days / "Let Us Now Forgive and Forget" / "Sketch of the Services of B. Franklin to the United States of America"

V. The Family Man
Deborah Read / Franky Franklin's Death / Katy Ray / Franklin's London Family / Polly Stevenson / The Shipley Girls / Deborah's Last, Lonely Years / "A Thorough Courtier" / The Ladies of France / A Treaty of the Heart / Rejected Suitor / Home Again

VI. Something of His Religion
A Practical Theology / "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain" / A Reconsideration of Freethinking / Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion / A Summary of Belief / "Here is My Creed"

Notes on the Sources
The Sources
Additional Reading
Afterword: Imagining Benjamin Franklin

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