The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Section 1

Theautobiography of Benjamin Franklin


Bornin 1706 January 17th,Benjamin Franklin can be regarded as an influential figure inAmerican politics and one of the founding fathers. In 1731, at theage of 25 years, Franklin spearheaded the establishment of a publiclibrary in Philadelphia. The library was one of its kind as it becamethe first library in the United States to lend books to the Americanpublic. The establishment of this library set the foundation for theintroduction of free public library in the United States. In hisautobiography, Franklin notes “Not having any copy here of what isalready written, I know not whether an account is given of the meansI used to establish the Philadelphia public library, which, from asmall beginning, is now become so considerable, though I remember tohave come down to near the time of that transaction” (Franklin 126)

Fromthe above statement, it is evident that the lives of many Americansresiding in Philadelphia changed considerably with the establishmentof the library. With ease of access to books shelved in the library,it became possible for most Americans to develop a reading cultureand at the same time advance their education. The library helpedFranklin a lot as he managed to read and become a good scholar, athing he did not fully attain at a young age. The American communityat large benefitted a lot from this library since it formed the basisfor the introduction of other libraries in North America.


Inhis autobiography, Franklin notes that it reached a point in his lifethat he developed the urge and need to attain moral perfection. Henotes “It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduousproject of arriving at moral perfection” (Franklin 146). In hisquest for moral perfection, Franklin notes that he would have wishedto live a life free of any faults however, it was impossible to dosomething right and at the same time fail to be wrong. Based on hisown conclusion and assessment, Franklin was keen to note that,although humans wished to be virtuous all the time, it was impossibleto live without making mistakes. He notes “contrary habits must bebroken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can haveany dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct” (Franklin146).

Inorder to attain moral perfection in his life, Franklin found it wiseto internalize certain virtues and incorporate them in hisactivities. Some of the virtues that guided his morality includedorder, frugality, resolution, industry, temperance, humility,moderation justice and silence among others. Of all the virtues, theone he found most challenging to maintain was temperance. Franklinwas successful in gaining moral perfection as the virtues heincorporated helped him a lot. The phrase “a speckled ax is best”implies that most humans find it difficult to obtain good virtueswhile at the same time they take part in breaking habits that can beregarded as bad (Pangle 258).


Inthe autobiography, Franklin is portrayed as a man who was notreligious. This is because he objected the relationship betweenreligious institutions and belief in the almighty. Since he separatedthe church from belief in God, this is a clear indication that he hadlittle knowledge of religion. Moreover, it is stated that Franklindid not embrace the doctrines of the pastors and religious leaders hecame across. If he was religious, he could have portrayed somerelationship with specific religious beliefs (Isaacson 522).


Franklin,Benjamin. Autobiographyof Benjamin Franklin.New York: J. B. Lippincott &amp Company, 2006. Print.

Isaacson,Walter. BenjaminFranklin: An American Life. NewYork: Simon and Schuster, 2004. Print.

Pangle,Lorraine S. ThePolitical Philosophy of Benjamin Franklin.Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 2007. Print.