Autobiography and Other Writings

Overview

Franklin's writings span a long and distinguished career of literary, scientific, and political inquiry—the work of a man whose life lasted for nearly all of the 18th century, and whose achievements ranged from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanac to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime, Franklin knew prominence not only in America but also in Britain and France. Here was a cosmopolitan statesman, public servant, inventor, and editor with a distinctly Yankee ...

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The Autobiography and Other Writings

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Overview

Franklin's writings span a long and distinguished career of literary, scientific, and political inquiry—the work of a man whose life lasted for nearly all of the 18th century, and whose achievements ranged from inventing the lightning rod to publishing Poor Richard's Almanac to signing the Declaration of Independence. In his own lifetime, Franklin knew prominence not only in America but also in Britain and France. Here was a cosmopolitan statesman, public servant, inventor, and editor with a distinctly Yankee sensibility; here was a moral philosopher who divided his faith between the natural sciences and the American experiment.

This volume includes Franklin's reflections on such diverse issues as reason and religion, social status, electricity, America's national character and characters, war, and the societal status of women. Also included is a new transcription of his 1726 journal, and several pieces that have only recently been identified as Franklin's work.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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: 9780199554904
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 384,884
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.80 (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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