Autobiography Of Ben Franklin Essay

1186 words - 5 pages

I agree that Benjamin Franklin's autobiography does indeed provide us with an insight into the evolution of the American way of thinking. For one, Franklin dismissed the belief that life should be wholly mandated by religious absolutes and instead turned his focus to obtaining knowledge with a practical approach, an American notion that has since become commonplace. Secondly, Franklins actions, or the way he handled certain situations throughout his political career during this tumultuous Revolutionary epoch, reveals in Franklin an understanding of the close relationship between the colonies, and how crucial this relationship would be when a young America would have to rise up as its own nation against the British. Correspondingly, this autobiography shows, as the stage was gradually being set for the American Revolution, an increasing disenchantment with the British - not only within Franklin, but among everyone living in the colonies.Franklin had a very persistent, practical approach to knowledge. In one instance, a ten-year-old Franklin, after being withdrawn from school resulting from a lack of finances, was to reside at home with his family. Employed by his father Josiah, a young Ben Franklin would cut candle wick and perform other various tasks to help the family business. Ultimately, Franklin disliked this trade. He did, however, show a strong interest for the sea, which, located very near to his house, provided him with an opportunity to learn how to swim well, manage boats, and develop leadership skills among his friends.Franklin and his friends enjoyed fishing for minnows in a nearby salt-marsh, but, after trampling the ground thoroughly, they had taxed the soil. Franklin, with his practicality in full swing, proposed to "...build a wharf there fit for us to stand upon...which would very well suit our purpose (p6)". To build this wharf, however, would require them to assemble it out of a large heap of stones which were intended for a new house near the marsh. So, later in the evening, after the workers had gone home, Franklin gathered his friends, and, with dilligent, hard work, collected the stones and built their wharf. Franklin and several of his friends were chastised for this, and rightly so, as such an act is clearly mischievous. But despite that fact, this situation aptly portrays Franklin's sensibility, which would continue to flourish throughout his life, and ultimately serve as a model for modern American thinking.Another example of this is when Franklin publishes thirteen virtues which he believes to be desirable. Along with these virtues, Franklin "contrived the following method (p68)," which hopefully would serve to prevent him from being distracted or overwhelmed with trying to perfect himself in all of the virtues. In this method, he used a little book which listed all of the virtues on separate pages, with seven columns (one for each day of the week). To track his improvement (or lack thereof), he would mark a black spot...

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