Exploring The Landmarks Of Benjamin Franklin’s “The Autobiography And Other Writings”

Tour the diverse experiences of America’s most involved founding father.

Benjamin Franklin
Photo by Brett Wharton on Unsplash

Benjamin Franklin is an interestingly multifaceted individual whose accomplishments span careers and continents. As the only person to sign all four major documents of the United States – the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Treaty Alliance with France, and the Treaty of Peace with England – he has been intimately involved in the most monumental events in U.S. history.

Not only does this novel include Franklin’s commentary on his adventures, but he also collects primary sources, such as letters, advertisements, and pages from his reflective musings to provide context to his life.

Despite his humble beginnings and roundabout path, the crossroads of his experiences provided the knowledge he needed to become a founding father.

Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Benjamin Franklin
Image by Clifford via Unsplash

Born into “Poverty & Obscurity” in 1706, Franklin’s story begins in the bustling city of Boston, Massachusetts. The recreation of his birthplace is a popular stop for history enthusiasts visiting the city of brotherly love today.

As a young child, he discovered an affinity for reading and writing, but his education was halted at the age of 10 to aid with his father’s candle business. Inspired by his son’s dedication to reading, Franklin’s father encouraged him to enter the printing industry, which eventually led to an apprenticeship at his brother’s printing press where he stumbled upon An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke that served him later in his political career.

He began publishing anonymously in his brother’s paper until they were both arrested. After their release, their personal and working relationship became tumultuous enough for Franklin to leave home for Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Benjamin Franklin
Image by Leo SERRAT via Unsplash

Though his journey here is rather dangerous, Franklin quickly makes a home in Philadelphia. His elegant control of prose catches the eye of the Pennsylvanian governor, who becomes determined to help him found his own printing press.

After some networking in London, he returns to the city and becomes the official printer for the Pennsylvania Assembly – the colonial government. He is also hired to print paper currency and other government documents.

His work in public affairs after returning from France during post-Revolutionary War earned him the opportunity to contribute to the impending French and Indian War.

In his new hometown, he also explores the realm of science and experiments with lightning and electricity in 1746. His work published work become so widely read and well-received that Franklin is awarded a medal of honor from the Royal Society.

For a deeper dive into the founding father’s life and accomplishments, the Benjamin Franklin Museum is a must-visit location for history enthusiasts. Visitors observe a comprehensive view of Franklin’s life as a diplomat, publisher, and scientist.

London, England

Image by Marcin Nowak via Unsplash

Franklin makes two pilgrimages to the colony’s mother country. He travels to London for the first time in late 1724. His primary goal is to gain more experience in the printing business, where he garners a great deal of success. The book follows his advancement from printing pamphlets and working in a printing press to writing articles. We even observe the famed writer’s flub a friendship over a woman.

Later, as the Commissioner, he traveled to England to petition for colonial rights in accordance with a petition put together by the Colonial Assembly.

Franklin’s former home in London has been preserved as a museum that is open to the public. Guided tours of the Benjamin Franklin House are available for visitors interested to learn more about his diplomatic endeavors while living in the city.

Paris, France

The autobiography spends only a few pages on Franklin’s experience in Paris. He mentions, however, that a section of the latter half is being written during his travel to France.

This trip is part of his political career as he is on a diplomatic mission to secure French support during the American Revolution. His work was later commemorated by a monument erected in 1906, named Square de Yorktown.

This section is particularly humanizing as the novel dwells on Franklin’s desire for self-improvement through contemplating his religious and philosophical beliefs. His plan to develop each of the 13 essential virtues, but ultimately becomes pleased with the realization that he cannot embody all of these qualities at once.

Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin died before he could finish a full account of his life. Readers interested in activism will notice the glaring absence in mention of slavery and other negative ramifications of colonization. Yet, this book does give the reader an insight into the experiences that shaped one of the most influential men in American history into a shining example of the American Dream.

Jade Hargrove

Jade is a Georgia native who has enjoys trying new foods, podcasts, and long car rides with friends. She hopes to one day travel to every French-speaking country in the world to experience the different dialects and cultures that can be found around the world.

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