The Autobiography of BenFranklinBenjaminFranklin was a renowned author, diplomat, statesman, and more importantly, oneof the important forefathers of the United States. The purpose of this paper isto examine the life of Benjamin Franklin by focusing on a few areas about hisaccomplishment and principles.Aftersettling in Philadelphia, Franklin formed a club with his friends, and fromwhich he made a proposition to gather all the books they had and put them in acommon library.
The purpose is to enhance convenience since it would bebeneficial for all members if all the books were in one place. For instance, inhis autobiography, Franklin says “…by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while welik’d to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the booksof all the other members…” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 8). Franklin then came up with aproposal, and with the help of his friends from the club, he invested into his first public project by establishing the first subscriptionlibrary in the US. Franklin and his friends advocated subscribers who were willing to contribute forty shillings for a startand then pay an annual fee of ten shillings to continue with future bookpurchases.The public libraryestablished by Franklin had a major effect on the community.
According toFranklin, the library improved the general knowledge of the community. Ordinarytraders and farmers use the library resources to improve their lives as theybecame intelligent as other noblemen from other states. More importantly, manyof the subscribers gained knowledge and political skills that enabled them totake part in political matters at that time and demand for their rights. Inhis quest for moral perfection, Franklin identified thirteen virtues with theirprecepts that he believeddesirable and necessary.
The most important virtues, according to Franklin were”temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice,moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). He then created a book with each virtueallotted one page. The aim was to acquire all the virtues. He drew sevencolumns on each page to mark the seven days of the week.
He would put a blackspot for every mistake he made regarding a given virtue each day. In everyweek, Franklin focus on acquiring one virtue, for instance, to avoid anyoffense against temperance. Despite his efforts, Franklin found itdifficult to maintain the virtue of order, as it is evident when he says, “Myscheme of Order gave me the most trouble” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). According to Franklin, upholding thevirtue of order should have been easier since “…a man’s business was such as toleave him the disposition of his time…” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9) However, it was challenging for someonelike him since he has to interact with the world and frequently meet withbusinesspeople at their specific hours.
He also found it challenging to acquirethe virtue of order because he had not been accustomed to it in his early yearsas a person. Finally,in his bid to arrive at a moral perfection, he seem his progress to a man whoafter purchasing an ax, wanted to make the surface as shiny as the edge. Upon request,the smith then granted the man his wish but only if he agreed to steer thewheel. However, as he rotated the wheel, the smith pushed the ax harder againstthe stone, which made the turning very exhausting but the speckled ax stilllooked the same (FRANKLIN, Chapter 9). In reference to the story, Franklincontends that he likes a “speckled ax best”. He use the phrase to mean thatalthough he had fallen short in his moral perfection, he was still happy andbetter than had he not given it a try.
Therefore, he argues that maybe “aspeckled ax was best”.Eventhough Benjamin Franklin rarely engaged in church matters, he was a religiousman. For instance, he admit that he was concerned with religion by saying “Tho’ Iseldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety…and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the onlyPresbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia” (FRANKLIN, Chapter 8). The statement clearlyindicates that even though Franklin was not committed to church, he wasconcerned about religion. Furthermore,he says in his autobiography that he never doubted that God existed. He goes onfurther to say that God made the universe and governed it by his Providence;that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man.
There is no doubt thatFranklin is defending his belief in the providence of God, which is anindication that he was a religious man.