University He wanted to be remembered as a

University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages
and Literatures
Student: Irina-Alexandra Ilie

Professor: Drago? Manea

 

 

Benjamin Franklin
“The Autobiography”

-Handout-

 

1.     Who Was Benjamin
Franklin?                                 

“I was commonly allow’d to govern, especially in any case of Difficulty; and
upon other Occasions I was generally a Leader among the Boys, and sometimes led
them into Scrapes, of which I will mention one Instance, as it shows an early
projecting public Spirit, tho’ not then justly conducted.” (Franklin, “The
Autobiography”)

He was one of the founding fathers of America, but he was also never president,
the only reason for this was nothing else but his age for he was in his late
eighties when America came into being. Anyway, he did not even have any
intention of being remembered as a rich or politically influential character.
He wanted to be remembered as a very balanced soul, the embodiment of
perfection, both innerly and in his real daily life. In this sense, he has managed
to contour this image of the perfect American Man and he is actually known as
the creator of the American Dream and the first person ever to fulfill it.
Moreover, he was also a sort of founder for the American character –
courageous, determined, talkative and populist.

 

 

 

1 Franklin, Benjamin. “The Autobiography”

2.     Benjamin Franklin’s
Life In A Nutshell

Benjamin Franklin was America’s best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer,
business strategist and political thinker. He managed all of this without staying
in America his whole life, he travelled between Boston, London, Paris,
Philadelphia and some other places. After all his adventures, he eventually
quasi-retires to become a civic leader, to do his electricity experiments and
form civic groups.

3.     Benjamin Franklin –
The Writer

a. School

b. Self-education
c. Silence Dogood

Regarding his writing career, it is mandatory to be
aware of the fact that having a boss did not fit Benjamin’s mindset, a very
American trait, and decided to teach himself how to be a good writer. He did
this by reading everything he found at the printshop he first worked in
(Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the essays of Plutarch, Swift, Defoe). Next, he
thought himself how to write by writing down the arguments between Addison and
Steele in their essays, cut them up and put them in a different order – so he
tried to rewrite their essays in a better order (he was 14-15 years old). As
expected, at some point, he wants to have his work printed, so he makes up a
pseudonym – Silence Dogood (a widowed old woman married to a minister). While
she was very different in her circumstances than Franklin, he used her to
express some of his core beliefs. She spoke out against tyranny, the connection
between church and state and the colony’s government.

4.     Benjamin Franklin –
The Diplomat

 

a.     America’s First Diplomat

b.     Supporter of the
American Colonies

c.     American Independence

d.     Treaty of Paris

e.     American Revolution

He became one of the
Pennsylvania colony and later on he represented all the other American colonies
fighting against their taxation. Later, he joined the cause of American
Independence so he starts working on the Declaration of Independence. Over the
course of his career he would also represent the United States of America as an
ambassador in London and Paris. Franklin was one of, if not the most,
distinguished men in the early history of the US. He was accomplished in a wide
variety of areas and participated in most of the key events in the nation’s
founding. His active role in colonial and national affairs did not prevent him
from contributing to the civic life of Philadelphia. While Benjamin Franklin
made many contributions to the case of Independence, he never participated in
any of the military conflicts of the Revolutionary War. He served in diplomatic
and legislative roles during the American Revolution helping to procure support
for the struggle for independence.

5.     Benjamin Franklin –
The Printer

a.     Pennsylvania Gazette

b.     Poor Richard’s
Almanac

c.     First American Post
Service

 

Benjamin Franklin arrives in London and words for almost two years to
make enough money to buy printing equipment – he has a printshop in
Philadelphia – his newspaper was called the Pennsylvania Gazette. His newspaper
differed from other periodicals of his time in that it was not affiliated with
a specific religious denomination or political party, it was independent.
Another interesting fact is that he writes everything by himself under
different pseudonyms. While thinking about what to print, he thought about the
Bible first, but gave up the idea because people only but the Bible once in
their life, whereas an almanac appears every year. This was like the World Wide
Web of that time – there was pretty much everything one wanted to know, so he
created Poor Richard’s Almanac. What is more, in the margins of the almanac,
Franklin put ‘Poor Richard’s sayings’, many of which are still repeated today,
for example, ‘Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead’ or ‘Fish and
Visitors stink in 3 days’.

His almanac became wildly popular throughout all of the American
colonies, which is why he needed to create a distribution network for the book,
as well as other work produced by his printing colleagues. This network would
become the first American postal service.

 

6.     Benjamin Franklin –
The Civic Leader

 

a.     The Leather Apron
Club / Junto

b.     The First Lending
Library

c.     Insurance Company for
Widows and Orphans

Benjamin founded the Leather Apron Club for other middle-class tradesmen.
It was called this way because it was not for the rich elite, nor for the poor
working men – it was really for those who put on a leather apron every morning
and opened up their shop and stayed behind the counter. The goal of the organization
was to train good civic leaders. The club worked to promote virtues that public
leaders should work to cultivate. Franklin’s Leather Apron Club reflected his
belief that the backbone of America would be a shopkeeping middle class that formed
civic organizations that brought people together.

Some important things that he
came up with together with the Leather Apron Club were: the first lending
library – free for everyone; a Street Sweepin Corps, an academy for the
education of the youth which became the University of Philadelphia, an
insurance compay for widows and orphans (this baffled his mother because she
considered that one can get to Heaven only through God’s grace, not through
good works. Frankling said he’d rather hate it said that he lived usefully than
that he died rich).

 

“Scripture assures me, that at the last Day, we shall not be examin’d
what we thought, but what we did; and our Recommendation will not be that we
said Lord, Lord, But that we did Good to our Fellow Creatures.”

7.    
Benjamin
Franklin – The Scientist

a. Practical Problems

b.
Electricity Experiments

 

Franklin
believed that it was essential for citizens to be knowledgeable about science
and engaged in a great deal of scientific research. Much of his work was geared
towards practical problems and the invention of products that would improve
everyday life.

Examples:
the fireplace, the bifocals.

Franklin’s
theoretical work was done on the nature of electricity and brought him international
acclaim. Through his kite experiments, he was able to confirm that lightning
was electricity and that it could be manipultaed. In order to preserve
buildings from being struck by lighting, Franklin designed an object that woul ward
lightning off from striking tall building, a big problem during his time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2
Phelen, Elaine Paulionis. “Benjamin Franklin: Founding Father and
Freemason.” MASONIC PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, ., 12 Mar. 2016, blog.philosophicalsociety.org/2015/11/07/benjamin-franklin-founding-father-and-freemason/

 

 

 

8.    
Conclusion

 

As a conclusion, it
can be said that he was a renaissance man because he was fond of science as
well as writing and humanities. He invents the American
character – being proudly middle class – the shopkeepers are the backbone of
America, they form civic organizations that bring people together, which is
what he also did through the universities, hospitals and academies.
We can say that he was an important representant of the American Dream – “the ability to rise from rags to
riches through hard work” (Giemza, “The Autobiography: Literature and Cultural
Diversity”)

“When
Thomas Jefferson arrived in Paris in 1785, the French Foreign Minister,
Vergennes, asked, “It is you who replace Dr. Franklin?” Jefferson
replied, “No one can replace him, Sir; I am only his successor.” (“Benjamin Franklin: First American Diplomat”)

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Giemza, Bryan B. “The
Autobiography.” English 22: Literature and Cultural Diversity,
Bryan Giemza, 20 Sept. 2015, www.unc.edu/~bgiemza/ENGL22.htm.

 

4. Historians, Office of the. “Benjamin
Franklin: First American Diplomat, 1776–1785.” U.S. Department of State,
U.S. Department of State, 23 May 2012,
history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/b-franklin.

 

Biography

 

1 Franklin, Benjamin. “The Autobiography”

 

2
Phelen, Elaine Paulionis. “Benjamin Franklin: Founding Father and
Freemason.” MASONIC PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY, ., 12 Mar. 2016, blog.philosophicalsociety.org/2015/11/07/benjamin-franklin-founding-father-and-freemason/

 

3.
Giemza, Bryan B. “The Autobiography.” English 22: Literature and Cultural
Diversity, Bryan Giemza, 20 Sept. 2015, www.unc.edu/~bgiemza/ENGL22.htm.

 

4.
Historians, Office of the. “Benjamin Franklin: First American Diplomat,
1776–1785.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 23 May 2012,
history.state.gov/milestones/1776-1783/b-franklin.

Biography