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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, with Introduction and Notes, edited by Charles W Eliot, LLD., was originally published by P F Collier & Son Company in 1909. This edition covers the life of Benjamin Franklin from 1706 to 1757, with an introductory note by the editor and, at the end, a listing of chief events in Franklin's life dated by year.

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. This book is in the public domain.

151 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 1, 1791

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Benjamin Franklin

1,317 books1,454 followers
Benjamin Franklin was a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, a politician, a patriot, a Founding Father, an inventor, and publisher. He helped with the founding of the United States of America and changed the world with his discoveries about electricity. His writings such as Poor Richards' Almanac have provided wisdom for 17 years to the colonies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,509 reviews
Profile Image for Tharindu Dissanayake.
275 reviews457 followers
November 18, 2020
"Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy, and wise."
"We may give Advice, but we cannot give Conduct."
"There will be sleeping enough in the Grave."

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, written by himself, is one of the must-read books for all, and considered by most to be the most influential autobiography ever written. As one of the founding fathers of United States, and titled 'The First American,' Benjamin Franklin was one of the most ingenious men in the recorded history.

Compared to other autobiographies, this is a very short one, (also, an incomplete one), yet, it will give readers an unbelievable amount of insights. If you still cannot find the time to refer the entire book, though I strongly recommend you do find the time to read, at least go through Chapter IX: Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection. Aside from giving you a brief idea as to why this man is considered to be highly charismatic, diplomatic, friendly, successful and likable, it will definitely be something for all to think about in terms of improving our own lifestyles.

The brief time you invest in reading this book give you information to be contemplated over a lifetime.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,648 followers
March 8, 2017
“...there will be sleeping enough in the grave....”
- Benjamin Franklin


Even in death, I can't imagine Franklin resting. There is always just too much to do, too many questions to ask, too many books to read, too much to explore.

My brother recommended this book to me about 30 years ago. I'm not sure why I never read it until now. Part of it must be the feeling that Benjamin Franklin would always just be there. He wasn't going anywhere. He seems to permeate so much of what it means to be an American and is an essential part our shared historical map. His autobiography, which is divided into two parts, ends in 1757. So all of the Revolutionary War Franklin and Continental Congress Franklin is obviously missing. These are his early years. It is a portrait of a polymath as a young man. It shows his curiosity, his work ethic, his creativity, his risk-taking, his bridge-building. All the things that would later be used as part of the myth-making around Franklin.

After reading this autobiography, I kinda agree with Christopher Hitchen's take about the role of Benjamin Franklin as the Socrates of his day:

"Franklin was also the main man. He was drafted onto the committee that drew up the Declaration (and may well have been the one who imposed the ringing term "self-evident," as against the more pompous "sacred and undeniable" in its crucial opening stave.) When George Washington's horse bore him into Philadelphia for the grueling meeting that would eventually evolve the United States Constitution, it was at Franklin's front door that the president necessarily made his first stop.... -

The thing about reading Franklin is you are never quite sure when he is pulling one over on the reader. His humor was dry and sharp. He could adapt the language of his foes and flail them with it. He was happy to guide and get things done, rather than glory and stay stationary. He was an American original and we are all better for his curiosity, his humor, his readiness to take risks, his ability to learn and adapt. When people talk about standing on the backs of giants, I imagine we all have climbed a bit on the back of Franklin.
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,279 reviews21.3k followers
September 8, 2012
This is a curious little book. As an autobiography it suffers from the fact that it leaves out nearly all of the most interesting parts of Franklin’s life. This is a bit like reading an autobiography of John Lennon that ends a few years before he meets Paul McCartney. I’m not saying there is no interest in what is here, but any sort of version of such a man’s life that ends well short of the American Revolution is more than a little heart breaking.

There are very amusing parts of this – particularly around how he sought to improve himself both morally, through a thirteen step plan, and as a writer. In fact, as ‘advice to a young writer’ this book offers some wonderful advice. He would read what he considered to be well written articles and then, a day or two later, would try to re-compose them, as accurately as possible, from memory. Then he would go back to the original article and compare his effort with that. As he persisted with this strategy he would sometimes find he had improved on the original, making the ordering of the points raised more logical or finding a particularly apt phrase that made the point in a way better than had been done in the original. This is such good advice. It is remarkably hard for us to take the reader into consideration when we write – and this method forces us to do exactly that. We think we know what we mean when we write something, but all too often we are only sure of our meaning at the moment we write it, and sometimes not even then. My favourite metaphor is that a writer must ‘take the reader in hand’. And that is the level of care that is called for in our writing. His advice on arguing and avoiding words that imply too much certainty in our views is also well worth heeding.

It is interesting to read someone so steeped in the Enlightenment. To read a humanist who, as much as anything else, was keen to see a general improvement in humanity – whether through more universal access to learning (he set up the first subscription library and was instrumental in forming the first university in Pennsylvania) or in finding ways to ensure the streets are kept clean and well lit. In a world so much defined by Galbraith’s memorable phrase about our being prepared to accept personal affluence set amidst public squalor, we can look back in wonder at the civic conscious people of the past.

There is something ‘homespun’ in the wisdom contained here, but the writing is always beautifully clear and this book does make you wish he had dedicated more time to telling more of his life – even the parts on his experiments with electricity are skimmed over in ways that leave you wishing for much, much more.
Profile Image for Valeriu Gherghel.
Author 6 books1,149 followers
August 9, 2022
Benjamin Franklin m-a atras imediat prin francheţe. Privind în urmă, inventivul american nu omite să consemneze, cu maximă sobrietate, momentele de jenă materială prin care a trecut, ca orice self made man, dar, mai ales, momentele de jenă biologică sau, la alt nivel, mai eterat, pe acelea de natură morală.

Îi lipsește cu desăvîrşire, ca oricărui puritan, simţul ridicolului, dar nu devine un pedant încruntat. A luat viaţa în serios şi arată explicit, în paginile retrospective ale analizei sale, cum că seriozitatea reprezintă singurul drum care duce la împlinirea în viaţă şi la mîntuirea sufletului.

În scopul de a ghici vrerea Providenţei şi a atinge perfecţiunea, nici mai mult, dar nici mai puţin („voiam să trăiesc fără a săvîrşi niciodată nici o greşeală”!), junele puritan (prezbiterian, mai precis) îşi cercetează atent existenţa de zi cu zi și notează pe o coloană viciile și pe alta virtuțile. Cînd rata virtuţilor creşte, e semnul neîndoios al manifestării, în existența junelui tipograf, a suveranei voinţe divine. Cînd scade, Providenţa se întoarce cu spatele la păcătos…

Aşadar, la finalul săptămînii, într-un registru de folos intim, Benjamin îşi distribuie, după titluri şi specii, păcatele personale. În săptămîna 4-11 februarie 1732, să zicem, el constată cu groază următorul bilanţ: a cedat clevetelii (în trei rînduri), risipei (în patru), preacurviei (într-un rînd), s-a semeţit (o dată), nu a meditat riguros la impenetrabila Voie a lui Dumnezeu (o dată), a uitat de iubirea aproapelui (în trei rînduri), s-a lăcomit (o dată) etc. Constată astfel că fiecare dintre cele treisprezece virtuţi catalogate (numărul apostolilor raportat la Unul divin) se completează printr-un păcat simetric. Aritmetica îi arată briliant cît de departe se află încă de ideal.

Dar Benjamin, care este, în anii de formare, ucenic la o librărie (tipograf, adică), nu dezarmează. O ia de la capăt, cu elan sporit. Orice individ s-ar lăsa păgubaş. Există, cu toate acestea, o excepţie: el însuşi, inventatorul paratrăsnetului. Rezultatul nu-l frînge niciodată. Cifrele nu-l fac să dispere. Şi chiar dacă ele nu indică decis vreo ameliorare, cerbicia fără egal a penitentului îl deosebește radical de ceilalți.

Cu timpul, Benjamin Franklin își construiește o religie proprie și concepe, într-un scop pios, o liturghie personală, întrucît aceea a coreligionarilor nu-l mulţumeşte. Nu mai vizitează biserica. Se roagă, cum s-ar zice, în particular. Între el și Dumnezeu nu mai e nimeni. Autobiografia (neterminată, din păcate) îl prezintă negreşit drept un învingător și un ales.
Profile Image for Isis.
831 reviews42 followers
June 16, 2017
The charm and pleasure of this book, for me, is that it is not about the famous Benjamin Franklin, the inventor and one of the fathers of the American Revolution, but that it is about the young Franklin; about his education and apprenticeship as a printer to his brother, about his love of books and his determination to improve his writing skills, about how he uprooted himself from his birthplace and family and moved to Philadelphia, and began a business there. He meets rogues and swindlers, has unexpected fortune both good and ill, and eventually prospers through his own cleverness and industry. The first half of the book - and parts of the second half - is as entertaining as any novel.

I especially like what it reveals about early and mid-18th century America and its inhabitants. The journey from Boston to Philadelphia was far different in those days! The way he talks about men being "bred" to their various professions is fascinating, as is his discussion of religious beliefs and doctrines of the time. And it's so interesting to see the workings of the pre-Revolutionary government, in which each colony is nearly a separate country, and yet all absolutely subjects of the Crown.

Franklin is a sly and entertaining narrator. He does not shy from making himself look bad on occasion, but it's clearly calculated to gain the reader's sympathy and goodwill. He's a schmoozer and a schemer, but he schmoozes and schemes to (what he perceives to be) the common good, not to his own betterment.

The book does have some serious flaws. For one thing, it is an abandoned WIP, ending abruptly with his passage to England in 1757. He also laid it down in the middle for a long time, and the second half is markedly different from the first; when he starts again, he repeats himself quite a bit, and then goes into this rather preachy and (to me) boring discussion of virtue, and how he attempted to become a Better Person through diligent self-examination. I also thought his accounts of his involvement in the French and Indian War a little dull in parts. But overall, I really enjoyed this book.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book, narrated by Adrian Cronauer, whose own story formed the basis for the movie Good Morning, Vietnam. Cronauer has a pleasant voice, but in my opinion he reads too fast, and his uncompromisingly modern American accent is somewhat at odds with the 18th-century language. I think the audiobook would have been improved by using the accent used in e.g. the recent John Adams HBO miniseries. Maybe I'm just too accustomed to theatrical portrayals of Franklin to accept a modern voice!
Profile Image for Saadia  B..
178 reviews60 followers
June 27, 2021
This autobiography written by Benjamin Franklin himself is more of a chronological diary of his achievements than an autobiography, as not much have been discussed about his life but mostly it tell us about the work done by him.

He started working with his brother from a very young age at his printing press, while writing prose at the same time. Seeing that he couldn’t progress much in Boston, moved to Philadelphia and started his own business - a printing house and a newspaper.

Apart from his business, he also took interest in discussions and founded many societies, a library, fire company and established the University of Philadelphia. Started working as a clerk at the General Assembly and later became the Deputy of late Governor of Virginia. Seeing his influence he was elected by the people and helped in building a hospital - free for poor patients, proposed a bill for construction of pavements and street lights.

Performed experiments on tubes and wrote papers on them, eventually published them all as a book.

Franklin was a man of usual scope of power and usefulness who knew how to tell his fellow man the secrets of that power and usefulness. In his opinion, great part of miseries on mankind are brought upon them by false estimates for the value of things.

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Profile Image for Shannon.
31 reviews10 followers
March 16, 2009
Man oh man, that dude had some mad skills. This book is written somewhat sloppily - changing narrative styles throughout, carrying on from time to time, and not even finishing it - but the content is truly amazing. Why didn't I learn in school about how awesome Ben Franklin was? In addition to his kite flying escapade, he invented a better type of wood burning furnace, and a better street lamp. He created the first public university in America (U. Penn), helped create one of the first public hospitals, and came up with the idea for the first fire department, and the first public library. His main profession was a printer and newspaper man (which served him well in marketing many of his projects), but he also served as a colonel, a postmaster general, and an assemblyman. His career is just astounding. Also - it isn't covered in this book, but he was one of the core founding fathers. According to Wikipedia, "He is the only Founding Father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, the Treaty of Alliance with France, and the United States Constitution." Ever wonder why he is on the $100 bill even though he wasn't a president? It's because the dude pretty much single handedly built America :-)

I will concede that the man was not modest, but regardless, it's hard to argue with his track record.
Profile Image for Henry Avila.
447 reviews3,218 followers
October 24, 2022
A Renaissance man from the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is perfect except for one thing, its only half finished! Franklin was prevented from completing by becoming involved in the American Revolution's long conflict . Later going as the ultimate diplomat to Paris, to get greatly needed French help. Born in Boston in 1706, to Josiah Franklin and his wife Abiah. A good student in his youth but the family lacked the money to send him to college. His father was a candle maker and Benjamin after many false starts became an apprentice to his stern brother James in the printing business. At the age of 11 he was an indentured servant, a virtual slave no pay just room and board. Learning quickly though and he even began writing articles for his brother's newspaper to his siblings chagrin, ( James was in jail for his political compositions) the New England Courant . Fleeing at 17, first to New York and then Philadelphia from James's harsh, strange treatment. Meeting a man named Keimer in Philadelphia, Franklin returned to printing the only business he knew. After years of hard work the future talented statesman became very successful. A common-law marriage to Sarah Read in 1730, her first husband deserted "Miss Read " and they didn't know if he was alive or his whereabouts . Publishing The Pennsylvania Gazette newspaper and Poor Richard's Almanack and becoming famous also rich. Writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat and businessman . Benjamin Franklin helped a new destitute nation arise from war to prominence in the world stage where it still remains. The Founding Father is a legend today and in his time well loved and indispensable man who shaped his country's destiny. Loved then and still loved in the 21st century for his unceasing work in creating a new republic.
Profile Image for Ilyn Ross.
Author 2 books126 followers
August 1, 2009
Dr. Benjamin Franklin is the embodiment of Thomas Edison’s “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” He came from a poor family. His sensible father was of good character. Dr. Franklin was a deist. What God has given man, he purposefully, methodically, and continually used to improve himself. A self-driven independent thinker, he endeavored to improve, not only mentally and financially, but morally. He did it for his own sake, and the fruits became the glory of mankind.

Dr. Franklin resolved to practice virtues every moment. He said he was not so successful in some, e.g. Order, but his ambitious efforts did him well. Some in the list, e.g. humility, were purposed to conquer his natural inclinations. It is clear from his depictions of his practice of humility that he did not mean self-abasement nor self-negation – he practiced diplomacy. He said about humility: “I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal about the appearance of it… In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it perhaps, often in this history; for even if I conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should be probably proud of my humility.”

A benevolent man of great honor, Dr. Franklin had no mean bone in his body. He used reason and persuasion to advance his convictions. His integrity earned the respect and trust of his fellowmen. It is logical that he could not subdue his pride – because, as Ayn Rand said, “pride is the sum of all virtues” (http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/pri...). Dr. Franklin earned the virtue of pride.

He depicted errors that he regretted. He had the misfortune of losing a four-year-old son to smallpox.

I found page 63 very interesting. I dearly enjoyed reading Dr. Franklin’s words. I laughed heartily at this part: a great gun is certainly a fire engine.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin had an exemplary, glorious life.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,199 followers
August 24, 2019
Ben Franklin did it all. He was an incredible self-made human. Why wouldn't someone want to read more about him?

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is fairly short and to the point. It took a while to come to grips with Franklin's olde timey speech, but once I got up to speed (or slowed down?) with it, I really started to enjoy his walk down memory lane. He was a natural storyteller. Seriously, was there anything this dude couldn't do?

Not only was he industrious, but he made an admirable moral compass, without being overly pious or self-righteous. He might have had to learn modesty, but considering his success and obvious intelligence -not to mention some of the buffoons he was surrounded by- it's a wonder he didn't constantly show up his contemporaries. He details his change in speech, reducing definitive statements, in order to avoid shame and embarrassment for both arguing parties. He is forthcoming in this way, just as he is generous in his inventions. When they could have made him a fortune, he would not take out a patent, thus allowing the less fortunate and society as a whole to benefit.

It was a pleasure to reacquaint myself with this man's wisdom. Once upon a time Americans modeled their behavior on his proverbs, as set down in Poor Richard's Almanac. Example: Franklin relates losing a four-year-old son to small pox, regrets not having inoculated him, and encourages parents to do so. This was over two hundred years ago. Nowadays some of us are taking the opposite advice from a video dj/nude model with no knowledge of what she speaks. What in the world has become of us?

It's time we get to know this man again. I was happy to do so over the Fourth of July holiday.
Profile Image for Patrick Peterson.
449 reviews181 followers
November 19, 2020
2020-11-18 I read this book about 35 years or so ago, give or take.

I found it and continue to regard it as an absolute gem!
Such great advice for improving one's own character, habits, performance.
One of the greatest books ever.

A book that can be referred to or reread over and over with great benefit.

For some books (like this) that I have not read/reread recently, my reviews can be short like this. But often for books that I have recently read, they can be longer, since I like to add some quotations and lists of positives and negatives. Love to have you check out other books I have reviewed, if you like my comments here.
Profile Image for Theo Logos.
587 reviews88 followers
September 27, 2022
The Completed Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was to be my third time through Franklin’s notable book. Famously, Franklin’s autobiography ended in 1757, thus ignoring his most significant achievements. His work as an agent for the colonies in London, his part in The Continental Congress, his hand in creating the Declaration, his critical ambassadorship to France during the Revolution, his participation in The Constitutional Convention — all of this was missing from The Autobiography. This most famous of American autobiographies was missing its author’s most famous moments.

This deficiency was corrected byProfessor Mark Skousen, a direct descendant of Franklin’s. Convinced that Franklin had every intention of completing his biography, he reached across time to lend a hand to his illustrious ancestor. Skousen delved deeply into Franklin’s papers — diaries, letters, etc. — and found that the Autobiography was practically already completed. It just needed carful compiling. Skousen compiled entries from Franklin’s extensive papers to create a seamless extension of the original Autobiography, all in Franklin’s own words. Starting from his work as agent for Pennsylvania in London, these new editions cover Franklin’s work in London leading up to the Revolution, all the way through to his participation in The Constitutional Convention. Franklin’s completed life is all here, down to his Last Will and Testament. It is just what so many had always wished for. Skousen includes a forward explaining his process, and an afterward with final notes about Franklin.

Unfortunately, I must note one important issue. This edition of The Completed Autobiography contains not a single word of the original. Herein are the additions to the original, rather than the combined original text and new material. This is problematic on Goodreads, because this volume is included as just one more of the many editions of The Autobiography. Reviews of this volume and reviews of the original Autobiography appear together, despite that fact. I am unable to post separate reviews for this volume and the original book. While this is irritating, and something that those reading this review need to know, it is not a reflection on Skousen’s work in compiling this volume, but rather a technical issue with this site.
Profile Image for James Henderson.
1,981 reviews166 followers
November 30, 2021
In the summer of 1771, while he was living in a country home in England, Benjamin Franklin began an autobiography that he was destined to never finish. He prepared an outline of a final section that he did not complete, but the four parts that he did finish represent one of the seminal documents of the enlightenment.
He was a statesman, an author, an inventor, a scientist, a printer, and the list goes on and on when describing Benjamin Franklin. As an autobiographer he also demonstrated his genius as he reinvented the genre and the result is a classic. By focusing on his own self-invention the narrator of the autobiography broke with the previous models of this type of writing and provided a way for America to imagine itself.
Reading this work is both useful and inspirational. Undoubtedly that was intended for the author demonstrated a practicality in everything he did in his long life. The book also demonstrates a secular character that differs from some of the earlier classics such as Augustine's Confessions. For those who love reading his description of the founding of the first lending library is a perfect example of how he led his life, and he determined from this experience that the best way to promote a project was to remain in the background, avoiding self-promotion.
"I therefore put my self as much as I could out of sight, and stated it as a Scheme of a Number of Friends, who had requested me to go about and propose it to such as they thought Lovers of Reading. In this way my Affair went on more smoothly, and I ever after practis'd it on such Occasions; and from my frequent Successes, can heartily recommend it."
The autobiography is filled with many examples like this and may be read as not only the story of a person's life, but as the foundation of a country's character. I am reminded of a lecture I attended several years ago where Franklin's achievement was described as a "new Regime" by Professor Joseph Alulis. In his lucid and invigorating presentation at the Chicago Cultural Center (part of the First Friday series of lectures of the Basic Program of Liberal Education at the University of Chicago), he told how Franklin outlined a new order - a foundation for what became The United States of America.
Only 5 years after writing the first part of his autobiography Franklin would join Thomas Jefferson and others in writing the Declaration of Independence of the United States. The autobiography is an inspirational work and one that recommends a life of the pursuit of virtue and wisdom. It is a book worth reading and rereading.
Profile Image for Holly.
9 reviews3 followers
March 2, 2008
This is a wonderfully inspiring Read. It's a small book packed with great insights into virtuous living. His curiosity and observation of the world around him lead him to live an amazingly full life in which he accomplished much for the good of mankind. All this combined with his wit and writing style make it enjoyable to read and truly encourages the reader towards self improvement. I'm actually reading it again right now. It's great for new year's resolutions.
Profile Image for Jon Nakapalau.
4,752 reviews636 followers
October 7, 2016
This book was a referral from a friend who became the CFO of his company through hard work and sacrifice. He credits this book, above any other he read while pursuing his MBA, for his success. Franklin has a 'favorite uncle' way of giving you advice that will set you on the path to success.
Profile Image for Martin Asenov.
34 reviews4 followers
November 20, 2016
Never have I read a more boring and terribly written book. I started it because it was a recommended reading from one of Robin Sharma's books (which was pretty good) but my only explanation of why it made it to this list is that neither Robin Sharma, nor anyone of his editors have read it.
Profile Image for ♏ Gina Baratono☽.
723 reviews109 followers
June 30, 2020
This book is based on correspondence and journals that Benjamin Franklin kept and then wrote this autobiography.

This book covers 3 different time periods in his life: 1771 when he was in England, 1783 in France, and 1788 in America. Franklin passed on before he finished writing his full autobiography.

Born in Boston, Franklin was born into a very large family, which was common in those days as childhood mortality was quite high. He was the 15th of a family that would eventually have 17 children.

When beginning school, the young Benjamin was keen on becoming a minister, which was his father's desire. However, Franklin showed a high aptitude for learning (other than math, which he finally mastered but with much difficulty). He loved to read and would borrow books any time he could.

A fight with his brother while under his apprenticeship led Franklin to head to Philadelphia, he found work with a man named Samuel Kelmer, who knew some prominent people and thereby Franklin begin to make friends with the important men of the day.

After a while, Franklin saved enough money to travel to England as he wanted to become a printer, and he found work with James Ralph. He continued to learn the craft under Ralph for 18 months.

Eventually, Franklin found an opportunity and took it. Returning to America, he eventually took over the Pennsylvania Gazette from his old friend Kelmer, imported updated equipment from England, and turned the Gazette into a profit making enterprise.

Franklin had also founded a debating club called the Junto, which was limited in number, but invited men to strong debate, in which Franklin shined. He was quite able to turn a phrase and convince people of his viewpoints.

Marrying his old flame, Deborah Read, he had the first two of his children with her. The first child was named William Franklin, and the first part of this autobiography is addressed to him.

In the 1730's, Franklin founded Poor Richard's Almanac, became a postmaster, and invented the Franklin stove. In the 1740's, Franklin began the first fire department in America, helped found a police force, and was working with the University of Pennsylvania. He was a man of great and tireless energy.

Eventually he retired from printing due to a burgeoning interest in electricity and science. Harvard and Yale bestowed honorary degrees upon him and he attained the post of Postmaster General of America.

This book ends in 1757 and was never finished.

Franklin is not shy about speaking about his strengths and weaknesses in this book. Today's history books may touch on the issue of slavery and the possibility that he fathered children with slaves, but this book does not go far enough into his life to speak on those matters.

It is a slow read, mostly because much of the original way of speaking and writing in that time period will slow you down a bit, but shouldn't stop you from reading this book.

Profile Image for SHYAM.
36 reviews40 followers
June 18, 2021
"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing."-BenFranklin.

Franklin's book, a story of self-betterment, is written so as to be a model for the betterment of others. Book indicates Franklin's constant interest in self-improvement that makes this book a self help manual too.
One of the purposes of this Autobiography is to trace Franklin's intellectual growth as he slowly becomes that great mind as which future generations always remember him. Book shows us Franklin's rise up from his humble origins to a man of great social standing and wealth.

Franklin's style is noticeably concise and easy to read. He gets to the point very quickly and reports on the important. It is remarkable how much information and how many stories he can fit into a single page.

The Autobiography itself was written in three different times: 1771 in England, 1783-83 in France, and 1788 in America. Unfortunately Franklin died before completing this book. Part one was directed towards people interested in the details of Franklin's personal life, and whereas Part Two was aimed at those seeking self-improvement advice and put forwards his 13 virtues for a great life. Part Three shows Franklin as an early American hero and his services for his nation.

Undoubtedly, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is riddled with faults. It is very muddled, particularly towards the end. It was not written in a continuous stretch, but rather pasted together out of separate fragments that were written years apart from one another; often, the author could not remember what he had even written in the previous sections. And also the work often makes the reader to think that Franklin is little boastful.

Why are we still reading this tangled work over 200 years after it was written? Well that is because this autobiography remains a classic for historical reasons. The work was one of the premier autobiographies in the English language. Autobiography as a literary form had not emerged at the time Franklin lived, at least not in non-religious format. He established the autobiography as a work that is meant to not only tell about a person's own life but also to educate the reader in ways to better live life. Also, the Autobiography tells us what life was like in 18th century America. Especially life in colonial America. This is invaluable information to anyone wishing to learn more about that time period.

We all know Franklin as an American legend who is responsible for many improvements in American life that makes worth to read about his life.

Franklin love reading. He created first library in Philadelphia. No doubt he was a true bibliophile. That makes him a friend of any book lover.
Profile Image for Christine Boyer.
303 reviews29 followers
March 11, 2019
I've always loved this guy, but to have him talk to me in his own words gave me goosebumps! Franklin certainly was the original "jack of all trades" and it was fun to hear him talk about his days as a young man, getting started, before and leading up to the time of the Revolution - which is probably what most people associate him with. He was so ahead of his time. I started to tab all the quotes of ideas he was proposing that we hear the current, leading self-help gurus propose today. Franklin already thought of half of this stuff, people! He wrote this autobiography in installments at various times: 1771, 1784, and 1788. Franklin lived a long life, dying in 1790 at the ripe old age of 84. We'll be hard-pressed to find another public servant, inventor, and civic-minded person such Franklin ever again.
Profile Image for Jimmy.
Author 5 books198 followers
February 16, 2017
I just finished a biography and decided to reread his Autobiography, which I read in high school. I loved it then. What kind of boy did that make me? A nerd? A dork? I prefer to say "budding intellectual." I remember myself thinking then about how I could be a better person. Nothing wrong with a book that does that.
Profile Image for Roy Lotz.
Author 1 book8,089 followers
May 16, 2016
Benjamin Franklin is the closest America will ever get to producing a Buddha. There is just something unreal about Ben, like he stepped right out of a myth. Of course, this is perhaps an image he cultivated, but he cultivated it well.

What I mean by that Buddha comment is that I think Benjamin Franklin epitomizes a certain, distinctively Yankee notion of virtue. First and foremost, it is the virtue of industriousness. Benjamin Franklin never let himself have an idle moment. Every day was subdivided into little blocks of time, in which he strove to better himself, his business, his town, and his country.

Benjamin Franklin was a schemer. He was always looking for new, beneficial ideas and plans. He set up a lending library to improve the public education; he wrote pamphlets to facilitate the war effort against France; and he even designed a new type of stove. Every page of this book is filled with one scheme or another—to increase his revenue, to start a newspaper, to improve his prose style, to marry a pretty girl, to erect forts, to clean the streets.

Even when Benjamin Franklin turns his sights on achieving moral perfection—a distinctly sage-like goal—he applies his same scheming mind to it. He drafts a thirteen-point plan of virtuous behavior, and drills himself on each quality of virtue like a music student practicing an instrument. He also has a habit of creating little wise maxims of behavior, which he compiled and published for the benefit of the public.

His quirks and virtues aside, this biography is a very charming, albeit uneven, work. My favorite parts were in the beginning, when he was just getting on his feet, and using his ingenious and resourceful mind to quickly ascend from the shadow of a ‘low birth’. Some parts near the end are less lively and more tedious—a consequence, I think, of their being written when Franklin was older.

Of course, the most disappointing thing about this book is that it stops before the Revolutionary War. We get the build-up, but not the climax. It’s a shame Franklin didn’t finish it. Perhaps he wasn’t as industrious as I thought.
Profile Image for Jan Rice.
509 reviews427 followers
May 13, 2013
This was exciting, once I found out it really was his autobiography! I couldn't believe it at 1st. Turned out to be divided roughly into two parts, the 1st starting with his family history and younger years, and the second coming later after a break. He was in his 80s, and his public had encouraged him to continue. The 2nd part is a little slower but still informative. The book is not very long, not a huge tome. It stops all of a sudden, before the revolutionary years. Maybe he just couldn't find the time! ...I often see that people are claiming to know what the founding fathers were like and what they thought. Well, here it is--you can find out for yourself. Politically, among other things, he may be an equal-opportunity offender. His family were Protestants, Presbyterians, but he wouldn't go to church. He told how he once went to hear one of his favorite scriptural verses preached on. He said he couldn't believe the preacher could ruin it, but he did--changed it from teaching caring behavior toward others into making more Presbyterians! He did believe in treating others as himself; generally his views strike the ear as quite advanced--except for this one story about native Americans and alcoholism: he opined that if God intended to remove Indians in favor of "those who cultivate the land," that maybe alcohol was God's instrument for doing so. (!) It is mostly just exciting, though, to hear this witness from the past. ...This book is available to read right on the Internet, although I got hold of a lively audio edition for a pittance. Here's the Internet site: http://www.earlyamerica.com/lives/fra...
Profile Image for Joe.
35 reviews2 followers
July 14, 2015
I have always been very skeptical of self-help books. I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey on the recommendation of a friend. Covey openly admitted that Benjamin Franklin's autobiography guided his ideas. So, I decided to go right to the source.

There is no better life book, and it is so effective because it does not seek to be a self-help book. This autobiography is really just a look into the life of a person who sought only improvement in his own person and engaged in continuous self-reflection to achieve that end. He advocates pillars of morality that should not bend and even explains his efforts to be perfect, ultimately to determine we can't be perfect, but the effort remains worthy.

Most illuminating is Franklin's attempts to become better at discussion. He studies himself as if he were his own lab rat and chronicle's his results like the scientist he was. He reminds himself to use phrases like "that is a good point, but have you considered... ?" for the purpose earning his adversaries fair consideration of a point.

Unlike many scientific-minded people, Franklin was equally brilliant in the social, political and scientific worlds. And you will see that he takes as much pleasure in the opening of the first library in Pennsylvania as any other accomplishment. It is a great slice of a unique life at a unique time in history.

And it is the best book I have ever read.
Profile Image for TarasProkopyuk.
686 reviews94 followers
July 12, 2016
Повторно решил прочесть данную книгу, которая два года назад мне открыла Бенджамина Франклина как слишком великую личность для осознания его огромного вклада не только в историю США на ее заре, а и по всему миру как пример для подражания его достижений для людей всех народов, стран и наций на целые века...

Мне сложно будет это объяснить, но я приравниваю вклад Франклина в развитие истории человечества сравни Леонардо да Винчи. Нет, я ни в коем случае не хочу сказать, что ценность и роль изобретений первого можно сравнить с изобретениями второго, и тем более Франклин не был знаменит такими талантами какие были у Леонардо, а именно он не стал знаменит как художник, инженер, анатом или же как великий ученый.

Что же общего у данных людей? А общего было одна великая особенность! У них было то, что данные люди были пожалуй самыми известными и также невероятно эффективными в результатах своей многопрофильной деятельности "универсальными людьми". Франклин же был весьма талантлив как предприниматель, гражданский активист, политический деятель, дипломат, изобретатель, писатель и журналист.

Много можно было бы говорить о роли Бенджамина Франклина и о его многочисленных и существенных результатах деятельности, которые принесли очень много своих плодов и не меньше последователей по всему миру. Но пожалуй порекомендую вам самим прочесть его собственноручную биографию и сделать свои выводы и согласится со мной, или же остаться при своем, возможно другом, мнении.
122 reviews6 followers
January 26, 2008
There is so much to learn from Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography and other writings. Please read it yourself. It is well worth your time. I was inspired by his genius, curiosity in all subjects and in people.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 1 book191 followers
October 28, 2018
Benjamin Franklin invented the American Fire Department, wood stoves, and the American system of government. You would think, then, that he'd invent some way of writing an autobiography that wasn't boring as hell. But no. Franklin loves his books, and he also loves self-improvement (the best parts of this are his bizarre charts where he rates himself on a 13-point scale of morality). But despite all of his attention to rhetoric this book does not, in my opinion, rise to the occasion of chronicling what by all accounts is a remarkable life. At one point he remarks that books with scenes and dialogue are more pleasurable to read - it's strange that someone so bent on self-improvement did not then think to incorporate such literary devices into his own writing. Like many male autobiographers (from St. Augustine to modern day politicians), early education, mundane philosophies on life in general, and braggadocio about professional accomplishments are given much space, while almost no time is devoted to the truly personal. Love affairs, marriage, children, death of loved ones, dramatic changes in personal beliefs - these are given little or no consideration. Autobiographies like these always leave me wishing the wife had written her side of the story.
Profile Image for Elena Calistru.
27 reviews115 followers
January 10, 2022
Pur și simplu de citit. Nu știu cum am ratat acest clasic până acum, deși ca orice absolvent de științe politice care se respectă, m-am întâlnit cu referințe la Autobiografie adeseori. Minunată carte inclusiv pentru timpurile moderne cu înclinații habituale spre dezvoltare personală.
Profile Image for Shadin Pranto.
1,091 reviews206 followers
March 21, 2022
যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের স্বাধীনতা সংগ্রামের অন্যতম ব্যক্তিত্ব বেঞ্জামিন ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের ছোট অথচ সুপাঠ্য আত্মজীবনী যে-কোনো পাঠকের ভালো লাগবে।

অত্যন্ত দরিদ্র পরিবারের সন্তান ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। বাবা চাইতেন ছেলে পাদরি হোক। কিন্তু এই পেশাটাকে ঠিক মেনে নিতে পারেননি ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। কারণ ততদিনে বইয়ের নেশায় পেয়ে বসেছে তাকে। এই পুস্তকপ্রীতির বর্ণনা এভাবে দিয়েছেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন,

'From a child I was fond  of  reading, and all the little money that came into  my  hands was ever laid out in books.  Pleased with the Pilgrim’s Progress, my  first collection was of  John Bunyan’s works in separate little volumes. I afterward sold them to  enable me  to  buy R. Burton’s Historical Collections; they  were  small chapmen’s books,  and cheap, 40 or 50 in all. My  father’s little library consisted chiefly of  books in polemic divinity, most of  which I read, and have since often regretted that, at a time when I had such a thirst for knowledge, more  proper books had not fallen in my  way since it was now resolved I should not be a clergyman. '

ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের ওপর তার পিতার ব্যক্তিত্বের প্রভাব কিশোরবেলায় ছিল অপরিসীম। রঙমিস্ত্রি পিতা তাকে শিখিয়েছেন,

'nothing was useful which was not honest. '

বই পড়ার একজন সঙ্গী জুটে গেল ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের। সে-ও তার মতো পুস্তককীট। এই দুই বন্ধু যা পড়তেন তা নিয়ে বির্তক করতেন, জবাব দিলেন লেখালিখি করে। সেইসব স্মৃতির এভাবে চারণ করেছেন লেখক,

'There was another bookish lad in the town, John Collins by  name,  with whom I was intimately acquainted. We  sometimes disputed, and very fond  we  were  of  argument, and very desirous of  confuting one another, which disputatious turn, by  the way,  is apt to  become a very bad habit, making people often extremely disagreeable in company by  the contradiction that is necessary to  bring it into  practice; and thence, besides souring and spoiling the conversation, is productive of  disgusts and, perhaps enmities where you may have occasion for friendship.'

জন কলিন্সের সাথে ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের বন্ধুত্ব পরবর্তীতে নষ্ট হয়৷ কলিন্স যুবক বয়সেই পাক্কা মদ্যপ ও খাঁটি অলস হয়ে উঠেছিল। ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের সামান্য সঞ্চিত অর্থ নিয়মিত কর্জ করতো কলিন্স। কিন্তু ফেরত দেওয়ার নাম নেই। অবশেষে ফ্রাঙ্কলিন পয়সা ও বন্ধুত্ব দুটোকেই হারাল। এই ঘটনার পুনরাবৃত্তি লেখকের জীবনে বারবার ঘটেছে। পয়সা ধার দিয়ে ফেরত পাননি, উপরন্তু বরবাদ হয়েছে দোস্তি। তাই বন্ধুকে পয়সা ধার দেওয়ার ব্যাপারে পাঠককে সতর্ক করেছেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন।

প্রথমে বাবার সাথে রঙের কাজ এবং পরবর্তীতে বড়ো ভাইয়ের সাথে পত্রিকায় শিক্ষানবিশি করতেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। সরকারের বিরুদ্ধে লেখা প্রকাশ করায় সম্পাদক ভাই কারাবন্দি হয়। তখন সম্পাদক হিসেবে আবির্ভূত হন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। ছাপাখানার কাজ শিখে তিনি তখন ওস্তাদ লোক। ভাইয়ের চাইতেও প্রতিবাদমুখর হয়ে ওঠেন সদ্যযুবক ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। তাই বাধ্য হয়ে নিজ রাজ্য ছেড়ে আশ্রয় নেন বস্টনে।

ছাপাখানার ব্যবহার তখন বিকশিত হয়নি। যন্ত্রপাতি সহজলভ্য নয়। এমনকি রাজ্যজুড়ে একটি পত্রিকা থাকাকেই যথেষ্ট মনে করতো লোকে। তবু ছাপাখানায় কাজ জোটানোর চেষ্টা করলেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। সেখানেই পরিচয় হলো রাজ্যের গভর্নরের সাথে। এই গর্ভনর সাহেব ফ্রাঙ্কলিনকে ছাপাখানা করে দেবেন এবং সেইজন্য বিলেত পাঠাতে চাইলেন৷ যথাসময়ে বিলেত পৌঁছে হতভম্ব হয়ে গেলেন। কেননা গর্ভনর তাকে নির্জলা মিথ্যা কথা বলেছেন। সে কোনো ধরনের সাহায্যই তাকে করবে না। লন্ডনের একটি ছাপাখানায় কাজ নিলেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। কঠোর পরিশ্রম ও হতাশার সেইসব দিনগুলির কথা লিখেছেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। স্মরণ করেছেন আরও একজন ঘনিষ্ঠজনকে ধার দিয়ে বন্ধুত্ব ও টাকা - উভয়ই হারানোর ঘটনা। অবশ্য বন্ধুর প্রেমিকার সাথে একটি সম্পর্ক তার তৈরি হয়েছিল, সেই ইঙ্গিত লেখক দিয়েছেন।

স্বদেশে ফিরে আবার ছাপাখানায় কাজ নিলেন। বিলেতে অনেক আশা নিয়ে গিয়েছিলেন। ফিরে দেখলেন বাগদত্তার বিয়ে হয়ে গেছে। ছাপাখানার মালিক তাকে চাকরি ছাড়তে বাধ্য করল। খুব কঠিন সময় পার করছিলেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন। নিজের ছোট্ট একটা ছাপাখানা খুললেন৷ বড়ো করতে চাই পুঁজি। ভাবলেন যৌতুক নিয়ে ব্যবসা বাড়াবেন৷ কিন্তু সামান্য ছাপাখানার ব্যবসায়ীর কাছে কেউ যৌতুক দিয়ে কন্যা সমর্পণ করতে রাজি হলো না। তখন নিয়মিত পতিতাপল্লীতে যেতেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন৷ পরবর্তীতে পুরনো বাগদত্তাকেই বিয়ে করেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন এবং পতিতাপল্লীতে গমন বন্ধ করেন।

শৃঙ্খলা ও নীতিবোধে বিশ্বাসী ফ্রাঙ্কলিন কঠোর পরিশ্রম করতেন। নিজের প্রত্যেকটি মিনিটকে কীভাবে ব্যয় করবেন তা পূর্বেই নির্দিষ্ট করে রাখতেন৷ এমন একটি রুটিন বইতে পাঠকের জন্য তুলে দিয়েছেন ফ্রাঙ্কলিন।

ইতোমধ্যে রাজনীতির সাথে জড়িয়ে যান এবং যুক্ত হন আরও দাতব্য প্রতিষ্ঠানের সাথে। এগুলোর বর্ণনার পাশাপাশি ব্রিটেন ও যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের মধ্যকার ক্রমবর্ধমান বিভেদের ইঙ্গিত দিয়ে শেষ হয়েছে ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের আত্মজীবনী।

অনুপ্রেরণার অভাববোধ করলে বইটি পড়তে পারেন। ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের চেষ্টা ও কর্তব্যবোধ আপনাকে উৎসাহিত করবে। প্রায় দুইশ বছর আগে লেখা একজন মানুষের আত্মজীবনীতে এতটা অকপটভঙ্গী ও সততা প্রত্যাশা করিনি। আমাদের দেশে যারা আত্মকথা ও স্মৃতিচারণা লিখে নিজেদের প্রায় ফেরেশত���র কাতারে নিয়ে যান , তাদের অবশ্যই ফ্রাঙ্কলিনের আত্মকথা পড়া উচিত।
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