- Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays

Ben Franklin

Essay by   •  December 23, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,015 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,373 Views

Essay Preview: Ben Franklin

Report this essay
Page 1 of 5

The tangled history of how Franklin's autobiography became to be is interesting in itself. It shows Franklin's motives behind writing his autobiography. When Abel James wrote "kind, humane, and benevolent" Franklin to finish his life story, he told Franklin that his autobiography "would be useful and entertaining not only to a few but to millions (55)." Franklin wrote to his friend and confidant, Vaughan, for advice. Vaughan agreed with James and also urged Franklin to print the history of his life because he could think of no "more efficacious advertisement (56)" of America than Franklin's history. "All that has happened to you is also connected with the detail of the manners and situation of a rising people (56)," he replied to Franklin. It is obvious that when Franklin resumed writing his story, he did so knowing that his story would serve as an example for Americans and as an advertisement to the rest of the world. He wrote his autobiography in full self-consciousness that he was offering himself as a representative of the American citizen. Just as America had succeeded in creating and forming a nation, Franklin was successful in showing how an American went about creating his own character. Instead of being a personal account of his past for his son, Franklin's autobiography became a model for those who wished to fulfill the rags to riches American Dream.

He was successful in fulfilling the image that his public wanted him to play. Following James' and Vaughan's letters, Franklin wrote about some important aspects of creating oneself: the image that one wanted portrays, how to appear generous and humble, keeping informed and educated, giving time and energy to public causes and the thirteen rules to live a virtuous life. Here, in one neat package, Franklin constructed a prescription that went into making a self-made man. In the land of opportunity and democracy, Franklin made a name for himself, and his autobiography reveals how one goes about following his footsteps and making a success of one's self.

If one wanted to sit with kings, Franklin advised that one should help them see one's merit. There were a number of "rich merchants, nobility, states, and princes" who were in need of honest people to manage their affairs, and there were "no qualities so likely to make a poor man's fortune as those of probity and integrity (34)." Early on in his career, Franklin learned that his impeccable appearance and reputation were good for business.

Another instance where Franklin points out the importance of appearance takes place in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, Franklin offers to give his shilling away to the people who owned the boat that brought him to his destination. First, they refuse to accept the payment on grounds that he contributed in rowing the boat. However, Franklin "insisted in their taking it, a man being more generous when he has but a little money that when he has plenty through fear of being thought to have but little (19)." It is odd that Franklin uses the word "fear" in describing how he would feel if people believed that he was poor. Again, in this incident, similar to the one before, Franklin expresses his desire for people to have a favorable image of him. A highly esteemed reputation is critical of one's advancement in society and the appearance of being financially secure is the surest way of becoming one. Therefore, people should not only be aware of how others view them, but also be conscious of creating the image that they want for themselves.

Yet, when making this character of oneself, it is also important



Download as:   txt (5.8 Kb)   pdf (86.9 Kb)   docx (11.1 Kb)  
Continue for 4 more pages »
Only available on
Citation Generator

(2010, 12). Ben Franklin. Retrieved 12, 2010, from

"Ben Franklin" 12 2010. 2010. 12 2010 <>.

"Ben Franklin.", 12 2010. Web. 12 2010. <>.

"Ben Franklin." 12, 2010. Accessed 12, 2010.