Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

Benjamin Franklin was born is the family of Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger in January 6, 1706. His father had relocated the family in 1682 to the New England Colonies to search for religious freedom. Benjamin Franklin worked for his father whilst very young, and by the age of 12 years, he was an apprentice to his older brother, James. Franklin and his brother, who owned a printing shop, quarreled very often, because his brother treated him as a slave, even beat him sometimes. It was during this period that Benjamin Franklin had developed a desire to improve himself. He wanted to be free of all restraining ties that he felt bound him when he was born.

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Benjamin Franklin was helped by a friend of his who secured a passage of a ship bound for New York. He had, thus, begun a journey of improving himself by improving his circumstances in life. Although Benjamin Franklin did not receive much of formal education, he had gone to school at the age of eight years and ended it at the age of ten years. His father had wished to send him to college to enable him to be dedicated to the service of the church, but financial difficulties proved otherwise. In spite of all these, Benjamin Franklin had developed a love of reading while he was very young and thus, he began to teach himself through reading of books.

When he arrived in New York, he headed to a printer’s office, where he sought employment. He met a man called William Bradford who sent him to his son who owned a printing shop in Philadelphia. Although William’s son did not offer him employment, it is here that he met the woman who later became his wife. Later, Mr. William secured him employment at another printer, and after working for a year, he started working for another person where he worked for two more years. He met a man called Hugh Meredith; together with whom they opened their own printing office by using money advanced to them by Meredith’s father. With time, Meredith’s father sold them his printing businesses as he wanted to start farming in North Carolina. As Franklin puts it, he paid all the company’s debts, returned Meredith’s father’s hundred pounds he had advanced them, and paid Meredith all the debts he owed him plus some thirty pounds and a new saddle. All these calculated moves allowed Benjamin Franklin to become the new owner and editor of the Pennsylvania Gazette and an accomplished entrepreneur.

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He married Rebecca Read in the year 1730 and tried to devise a plan of moral perfection, but later found out that this would be very difficult. As a result, he took a notebook where he jotted virtues that he deemed as necessary to help him improve. Franklin listed such virtues as silence, order, resolution, industry, moderation, cleanliness, humility, chastity, tranquility, temperance, sincerity and frugality. He had proposed to give every virtue his attention each per week before moving onto the next, but failed in his attempt of moral perfection. He, however, thought that he was much better off after his trials. His next improvements were to study language skills, where he learnt French, Spanish, Latin and French. He was successful in this attempt and the languages proved to offer great assistance as he travelled throughout the world.

Benjamin Franklin’s wealth helped him in his endeavors to improve himself. For example, in 1733, he sent one of his employees to South Carolina to start a new printing shop there. He formed a partnership with him and paid a third of all expenses, but also received a third of the profits. When the printer died, his widow took over the business and was very successful and later passed it over to her son. For Benjamin Franklin, this was a lucrative venture that he replicated several times.

Clearly, Benjamin Franklin was successful in his bid for self improvement due to his desire to put effort in his work and have less leisure, as he did not value leisure. His major declaration to fame was, thus, his self improvement, moral attitude and his job ethic. He had that quality of perfecting morals. He is said to have a book in which he recorded his daily virtues as well as the mistakes he did.

Benjamin Franklin can be seen in many lights. Although being an inventor, he declined to patent his inventions. On page 111, he said the following statement when commenting about patents, “As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any inventions of ours, and this we should do freely and generously”. Therefore, he strikes me as a genuinely benevolent man desirous of helping others. He invented an open stove that would warm the house in 1742, but did not patent it. I feel that Benjamin Franklin was a man who cared deeply about people, and that is why he was involved in bringing to fruition the Philadelphia’s academy, which later became the University of Pennsylvania. He had also helped founding a hospital in Philadelphia, because he wanted people to enjoy good health.

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Benjamin Franklin was a man of many hats: a politician, philosopher, publisher and diplomat. While in office, he served the American people faithfully and helped in drafting the Declaration of Independence as well as writing the Constitution of the U.S. He left a lasting legacy for all the American people.


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