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A Biography Of Benjamin Franklin Essay

1572 words - 6 pages

A Biography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was born into modest circumstances. With sixteen
brothers and sisters, there was no room for selfishness. He learned
early on the importance of putting others before himself and did not
have excessively ambitious plans for the future. As a child, Franklin
"...had a strong inclination for the Sea," but his father would not
hear of it. He ended up indentured to an older brother, who began his
life as a printer. He was a hard worker but preferred to read books,
conquer new subject matter, and engage in debates with other young
scholars. His hard work did pay off in the financial sense later in
life, but of more importance to him was the knowledge and
enlightenment he received through his "hobbies." He became well known
for his work ethic, strong morals and giving persona throughout
Philadelphia, throughout America, and eventually throughout western
civilization. Although he ultimately acquired considerable wealth,
Benjamin Franklin prioritized the betterment of his character,
intellect and reputation over the betterment of his financial

While still relatively young, Benjamin Franklin laid out guidelines on
how to remain virtuous and content throughout his entire life. These
guidelines contained thirteen virtues which he followed to the best of
his ability. It was a "bold and arduous Project of arriving at moral
Perfection (84)." In this guideline of virtues, Franklin lists
Industry and Frugality. His definition of Frugality goes, "Make no
Expence but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste Nothing
(85)." Following this virtue was beneficial to Franklin throughout his
entire life. While still a printer, he was able to make a steady
income by avoiding unnecessary pleasures, such as drinking and
gambling, and unneeded material possessions. "We kept no idle
Servants, our Table was plain and simple, our Furniture of the
cheapest. For instance my Breakfast was a long time Bread & Milk, (no
Tea), and I ate it out of a twopenny earthen Porringer with a Pewter
Spoon (82)," Franklin writes. Another virtue, Industry, goes, "Lose no
Time. - Be always employed in something useful. - Cut off all
unnecessary Actions," explaining his strong work ethic. Although both
Industry and Frugality are both ways of sensibly saving money, they
are not necessarily a strategy for becoming wealthy. Also, they are
only two components in a long list of virtues, showing that money
plays a small part in Franklin's big picture. Others include
Temperance, Silence, Order, Resolution, Sincerity, Justice,
Moderation, Cleanliness, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility (85).
Franklin diligently practiced all these virtues as well, contributing
to his good character. In an essay entitled Busy Body, Franklin
states, "Virtue alone is sufficient to make a...

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