Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Topics: Benjamin Franklin, Virtue, Deism Pages: 4 (1146 words) Published: October 31, 2013


Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Biography
American Writers to 1865

Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Biography
Benjamin Franklin starts his autobiography with “Dear Son, I have ever had a Pleasure in obtaining any little antecdotes of my Ancestors. You may remember the Enquires I made among the Remains of my relations when you were with me in England; and the journey I took for that purpose (Franklin, 1771, p. 231).” Franklin was sixty five when he started his autobiography and wanted to pass on his family history. Part two of his autobiography started when friends contacted him while he was away in Paris in1783 pleading for him to continue his writings about his life to influence others. Franklin did not set out to make himself known through his autobiography but the encouragement of his peers had him writing an autobiography and his thirteen rules of virtues are included and well known. He wanted to live a virtuous life and gave himself some basic principles to follow called Thirteen Names of Virtues. Franklin claimed to be a Deist but if you read his thirteen virtues he seems more Christian than Deist in his virtues he says “Imitate Jesus and Socrates (Franklin, 1784, p. 285).” He includes Socrates because he was a scholar and the revival of studying the classics began again during the Enlightenment. The Enlightment was the beginning of the worlds’ modern secular view and Franklin’s experience with religious leaders leads him to not want to be part of an established religious organization. I believe Franklin was far more Christianly than many people today who claim to be Christians but lack any Christian kindness in thought, word or deed. He saw the Puritans and Calvinists and decided to embrace the secular scholarly world. While reading his writings I have not seen him curse God or denounce Jesus, he quotes the bible’s Proverbs, classical Cicero and includes a few prayers. “O Powerful Goodness! Bountiful...

References: Franklin (1771) The Autobiography Part One
Franklin (1784) The Autobiography Part Two
Isaacson (2003) Benjamin Franklin an American Life, New York, Simon and Schuster
Baym, Franklin, Gura, Krupat, Klinkowitz, Levine, Loeffelholz, Reesman, Wallace (2008) The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Seven Edition, Volume One, Beginnngs to 1865, W. W. Norton and Company, New York
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