Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin is a man who needs little introduction. He wore many hats over the course of his fascinating life, from that of a printer, to an inventor, to a scientist, to a politician, a founding father and statesman, and even a postmaster-general. He was famous for all of these things in his day, but he was also famed for his keen insight into people and human nature, and his sparkling talent as a conversationalist.
Despite his accomplishments, Franklin seemed to keep a down-to-earth demeanor, favoring home-spun sayings and simple, direct, honest prose — the kind of prose that shines in this autobiography.
The autobiography itself has a long and complex publication history. Franklin composed it in fits and spurts between 1771 and 1790, and never had a chance to complete it, let alone publish it, in his lifetime. It was first published as a poor French translation of an unrevised edition of the manuscript, and then as a heavily-editorialized and inaccurate English edition by Franklin’s son, William Temple Franklin. In 1868 John Bigelow purchased the original copy of the autobiography and published the first accurate edition, which is what subsequent publications, including this one, are based on.
Though incomplete, this autobiography is a highly readable and fascinating insight into the legendary life of the man some people call the «First American»/
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    We some­times dis­puted, and very fond we were of ar­gu­ment, and very de­sirous of con­fut­ing one an­other, which dis­pu­ta­tious turn, by the way, is apt to be­come a very bad habit, mak­ing people of­ten ex­tremely dis­agree­able in com­pany by the con­tra­dic­tion that is ne­ces­sary to bring it into prac­tice; and thence, be­sides sour­ing and spoil­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, is pro­duct­ive of dis­gusts and, per­haps en­mit­ies where you may have oc­ca­sion for friend­ship. I had caught it by read­ing my father’s books of dis­pute about re­li­gion. Per­sons of good sense, I have since ob­served, sel­dom fall into it, ex­cept law­yers, uni­ver­sity men, and men of all sorts that have been bred at Ed­in­bor­ough.
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    it was extremely agreeable to hear
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    Tem­per­ance, for ex­ample, was by some con­fined to eat­ing and drink­ing, while by oth­ers it was ex­ten­ded to mean the mod­er­at­ing every other pleas­ure, ap­pet­ite, in­clin­a­tion, or pas­sion, bod­ily or men­tal, even to our av­arice and am­bi­tion

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