The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
'The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin' Summary
Part One of the Autobiography is addressed to Franklin's son William, at that time (1771) Royal Governor of New Jersey. While in England at the estate of the Bishop of St Asaph in Twyford, Franklin, now 65 years old, begins by saying that it may be agreeable to his son to know some of the incidents of his father's life; so with a week's uninterrupted leisure, he is beginning to write them down for William. He starts with some anecdotes of his grandfather, uncles, father and mother. He deals with his childhood, fondness for reading, and service as an apprentice to his brother James Franklin, a Boston printer and publisher of the New-England Courant. After improving his writing skills through study of the Spectator by Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele, he writes an anonymous paper and slips it under the door of the printing house by night. Not knowing its author, James and his friends praise the paper and it is published in the Courant, which encourages Ben to produce more essays (the "Silence Dogood" essays), which are also published. When Ben reveals his authorship, James is angered, thinking the recognition of his papers will make Ben too vain. James and Ben have frequent disputes, and Ben seeks a way to escape from working under James.
Eventually James gets in trouble with the colonial assembly, which jails him for a short time and then forbids him to continue publishing his paper. James and his friends come up with the stratagem that the Courant should hereafter be published under the name of Benjamin Franklin, although James will still actually be in control. James signs a discharge of Ben's apprenticeship papers but writes up new private indenture papers for Ben to sign which will secure Ben's service for the remainder of the agreed time. But when a fresh disagreement arises between the brothers, Ben chooses to leave James, correctly judging that James will not dare to produce the secret indenture papers. ("It was not fair in me to take this Advantage", Franklin comments, "and this I therefore reckon one of the first Errata of my life".) James does, however, make it impossible for Ben to get work anywhere else in Boston. Sneaking onto a ship without his father or brother's knowledge, Ben heads for New York City, but the printer William Bradford is unable to employ him; however, he tells Ben that his son Andrew, a Philadelphia printer, may be able to use him since one of his son's principal employees had just died.
By the time Ben reaches Philadelphia, Andrew Bradford has already replaced his employee but refers Ben to Samuel Keimer, another printer in the city, who is able to give him work. The Governor, Sir William Keith, takes notice of Franklin and offers to set him up in business for himself. On Keith's recommendation, Franklin goes to London for printing supplies, but when he arrives, he finds that Keith has not written the promised letter of recommendation for him, and that "no one who knew him had the smallest Dependence on him". Franklin finds work in London until an opportunity arises of returning to Philadelphia as an assistant to Thomas Denham, a Quaker merchant; but when Denham takes ill and dies, he returns to manage Keimer's shop. Keimer soon comes to feel that Franklin's wages are too high and provokes a quarrel which causes the latter to quit. At this point a fellow employee, Hugh Meredith, suggests that Franklin and he set up a partnership to start a printing shop of their own; this is subsidized by funds from Meredith's father, though most of the work is done by Franklin as Meredith is not much of a press worker and is given to drinking.
Original LanguageAmerican English
Franklin earned the title of "The First American" for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first Unit...More on Benjamin Franklin
- Select Speed
Henry Ford's Own Story by Rose Wilder Lane
This story talks how Henry Ford went from farmer to biggest car manufacturer in the world. He was the ultimate bootstrapper and startuper. Building hi...
A Japanese Boy by Shigemi Shiukichi
The life of a Japanese boy in the late 1800's and early 1900's, told simply and beautifully. This isn't about civilizations and governments, but about...
Robert Browning by Gilbert K. Chesterton
There is an old anecdote, probably apocryphal, which describes how a feminine admirer wrote to Browning asking him for the meaning of one of his darke...
Richard I by Jacob Abbott
There are certain names which are familiar, as names, to all mankind; and every person who seeks for any degree of mental cultivation, feels desirous...
Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Painters by Elbert Hubbard
It takes readers on a journey through time and space, offering a glimpse into the homes and lives of these painters. The writing is vivid and descript...
The Underground Railroad, Part 5 by William Still
The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early- to mid-19th century. It was...
Mark Twain: His Life and Work by William M. Clemens
It is an interesting and funny biography on Samuel Langhorne Clemens (otherwise known as Mark Twain). He became stronger while he grew up as he was a...
Society as I Have Found It by Ward McAllister
Mark Twain illustrator Dan Beard recalled discussing McAllister’s book with Twain. “It was before Webster & Company failed that Ward McAllister’s book...
Up from Slavery: An Autobiography by Booker T. Washington
Up from Slavery is the 1901 autobiography of American educator Booker T. Washington (1856–1915). The book describes his personal experience of having...
The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution by William Cooper Nell
This is a the true story’s of real Americans overcoming with respect hard work and most of all a hope in jesus, As an American I can see the heart of...
Reviews for The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
No reviews posted or approved, yet...