Synopses & Reviews
One of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, Benjamin Franklin was a true Renaissance man: writer, publisher, scientist, inventor, diplomat, and politician. During his long life, he offered advice on attaining wealth, organized public institutions, contributed to the birth of a nation, and negotiated with foreign powers to ensure his countrys survival.
Through the words of the elder statesman himself, The Autobiography and Other Writings presents a remarkable insight into the man and his accomplishments. Additional writings from Benjamin Franklins wife and son provide a more intimate portrait of the husband and father who became a legend in his own time.
Edited by L. Jesse Lemich
With a New Introduction by Walter Isaacson
and an Afterword by Carla Mulford
Discover Benjamin Franklin-scientist, inventor, writer, and politician-through the words of the elder statesman himself and the perceptions of his friends and family.
With writings from Franklin's wife and son-as well as his own essays and letters-this remarkable book paints an intimate, revealing portrait of a truly extraordinary man.
300th Anniversary edition
A Founding Father of the U.S., Franklin was a true Renaissance man: writer, publisher, scientist, inventor, and diplomat. During his life, he offered advice on attaining wealth, organized public institutions, and negotiated with foreign powers to ensure his country's survival. Collected here are some of his greatest and most timeless writings.
About the Author
(170690) was born in Boston. When he was twelve, his father apprenticed him to his half brother James as a printer. James was later the publisher of the New England Courant
, where Franklins first articles, The Dogood Papers,” were published before he was seventeen. He went to Philadelphia in 1723, where he was befriended by William Keith, Governor of Pennsylvania, who offered to help Franklin get started in business. They went to England, where he hoped to purchase printing equipment, but he was soon deserted by Keith and again turned to printing for a livelihood. His privately printed A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain” (1725) introduced him to leading Deists and other intellectuals in London. A year later, he returned to Philadelphia, and by 1730, he had been appointed public printer for Pennsylvania. In 1731, he established the first circulation library in the United States and, in 174344, the American Philosophical Society. As a publisher, his greatest success was Poor Richards Almanack
, which went through numerous editions and was translated into many languages. Over the next thirty-five years, he devoted himself largely to politics and diplomacy, by serving in the Continental Congress, signing the Declaration of Independence, and becoming Minister to France. On his return in 1785, he was elected President of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Still concerned with the rights of the individual, he published papers encouraging the abolition of slavery. He died in Philadelphia.
L. Jesse Lemisch is Professor Emeritus of History at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. Among his notable works is The American Revolution Seen from the Bottom Up.
Walter Isaacson, the CEO of the Aspen Institute, has been chairman of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Steve Jobs; Einstein: His Life and Universe; Benjamin Franklin: An American Life; and Kissinger: A Biography, and is the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. He lives in Washington, DC.
Carla Mulford has been teaching early American literature and culture and Native American studies at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, since 1986. The Founding President of the Society of Early Americanists, she has published books related to Franklins associates and contemporaries John Leacock, Annis Stockon, William Hill Brown, and Hannah Webster Foster. She has also compiled (with Amy E. Winans and Angela Vietto) two collections: a biographical dictionary, American Women Prose Writers to 1820, and an anthology of readings, Early American Writings. She has published several essays on Benjamin Franklin and is working on two book-length studies of Franklin called Benjamin Franklin and the Arts of Science and Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire.
Table of Contents
PART ONE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
PART TWO: SELECTED WRITINGS
I. The Way to Wealth
Plan for Future Conduct / Advice to a Young Girl / The Art of Conversation / Advice to a Young Tradesman / "The Way to Wealth"
II. Essays to Do Good
Standing Queries for the Junto / "A Short Account of the Library" / Fire-Fighting / The American Philosophical Society / The Pennsylvania Academy
III. The New Prometheus, I: Franklin the Scientist
The Young Naturalist / The Meteorologist / Experimenter in Electricity / Franklin's Kite / The Lightning Rod / Humane Slaughtering / The Franklin Stove / The First American Catheter / The Glass Harmonica / Youthful Inventor / Bifocals / The Long Arm
IV. The New Prometheus, II: Franklin and the Revolution
The Stamp Act / After Repeal / The Weapon of Satire / A Counsel of Moderation / America in Arms / The French Alliance / Busy Days / "Let Us Now Forgive and Forget" / "Sketch of the Services of B. Franklin to the United States of America"
V. The Family Man
Deborah Read / Franky Franklin's Death / Katy Ray / Franklin's London Family / Polly Stevenson / The Shipley Girls / Deborah's Last, Lonely Years / "A Thorough Courtier" / The Ladies of France / A Treaty of the Heart / Rejected Suitor / Home Again
VI. Something of His Religion
A Practical Theology / "A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain" / A Reconsideration of Freethinking / Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion / A Summary of Belief / "Here is My Creed"
Notes on the Sources
Afterword: Imagining Benjamin Franklin