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An introduction to the life and political career of benjamin franklin

Introduction "Franklin gave us the definitive formation of the American Dream" —J. Leo Lemay Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography is both an important historical document and Franklin's major literary work. It was not only the first autobiography to achieve widespread popularity, but after two hundred years remains one of the most enduringly popular examples of the genre ever written.

It is also uniquely useful as the story of a successful working printer in eighteenth-century North America, revealing much about the art and business of the printer's trade that is not documented with such coherence elsewhere. Written over the course of several decades and never completed, Franklin's Autobiography is divided into four distinct sections that differ both in tone and in focus—though Franklin always intended the work to stand as a whole.

As outlined by editors J. Leo Lemay and P. This is also when Franklin most likely drew up his outline for the entire work.

Benjamin Franklin

By the summer of 1782, both documents had been seen by a friend, Abel James, who wrote to Franklin urging him to resume the project. Franklin drafted Part Two in 1784 while living in France. Part Three, dating from 1788-89, was composed when a Franklin now in his eighties had, after a long and distinguished international career, returned home to settle his affairs.

This is also when he added most of his revisions. The shortest section, Part Four, was written when Franklin was in poor health in the last few months of his life. Part One of Franklin's memoir is addressed as a letter to Franklin's son William, perhaps as a literary conceit—and although the two would later become estranged over the events of the American Revolution, Franklin still preserved this aspect of the work. In fact, Revolutionary affairs figure little in the memoir.

The four Autobiography sections completed by Franklin in his lifetime examine the earlier and formative periods of his life: Due to public interest in Franklin's later political accomplishments, most early printed editions of the Autobiography include added text written by others, which rounds out the story of Franklin's years as a national an introduction to the life and political career of benjamin franklin international diplomat.

The Autobiography, known variously as a Life or Memoirs before the 1840s, has an unusual and complicated publication history, with several competing versions of the text in circulation at once.

Franklin named his grandson William Temple Franklin as his literary executor, but Temple Franklin was slow to bring an authorized edition of Franklin's memoir to print.

The first book-length edition appeared in French, produced in Paris in 1791—but this translation was based on an early copy of Franklin's manuscript and included only an unrevised version of Part One. Like the magazine pieces, it also contained biographical material of which Franklin was not the author. A second English retranslation appeared in London the same year, first in installments in Lady's Magazinethen as part of a two-volume set of Franklin's collected Works.

By 1794, American editions printed in New YorkPhiladelphia and elsewhere, again based on one or another of the retranslated versions, began to circulate. And so it went back and forth across versions, languages, translations and continents for another twenty-four years.

A 1798 Vie de Benjamin Franklinfor example, translated into French the English retranslation of the earlier French version of Part One, but also included a directly translated Part Two, which had not yet appeared in English. Although grandson William Temple Franklin's Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin of 1818 quickly became the standard version once it was available, it too was flawed.

  • Part Three, dating from 1788-89, was composed when a Franklin now in his eighties had, after a long and distinguished international career, returned home to settle his affairs;
  • Benjamin franklin's place in the history of medicine franklin's seemingly endless curiosity and his prolific contributions in diplomacy, politics, literature, and;
  • Benjamin franklin was born on 17 milk street, boston, massachusetts bay this job did not satisfy him, he wanted to write but knew his brother would object.

Mistakenly based on another still-incomplete copy of Franklin's manuscript, it did not include Franklin's final revisions of the text, or any of Part Four. It was not until 1868 and the publication of John Bigelow's Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin —at last based directly on Franklin's final manuscript—that all four parts of the work were at last printed together in their final form, and in English. In 1791, when grandson William Temple Franklin traveled to France, he traded Franklin's final manuscript for the one in Le Veillard's possession apparently unconcerned about final edits, and thinking a clean copy would be easier for typesetters to work with.

Meanwhile, Le Veillard translated or had someone translate the memoir into French, drawing on both the near-final and final versions. Although Franklin never completed the Autobiography, he worked from an outline that indicates what he meant to include in the rest of his memoir. Scholars believe that Franklin composed the outline for his memoir soon after he began his writing in 1771.

In 1782, Franklin's Philadelphia friend Abel James sent a copy of that outline to Franklin in Paris, along with a letter urging him to resume the work. At some point between 1782 and 1786, Franklin's French friend Louis Guillaume Le Veillard acquired copies of James's letter and Franklin's working outline. And in 1786, Thomas Jefferson borrowed Le Veillard's copies, as well as some additional notes on Franklin's life taken down by Le Veillard in French, to make further copies of his own.

Two partial copies of Franklin's outline survive in the handwriting of his grandson and literary executor, William Temple Franklin. These outlines begin after the point in Franklin's outline that corresponds to the end of Part Three of the Autobiography, and they expand on and regroup some of Franklin's original headings.

In his second copy based on the first Temple Franklin also pasted sections of already-printed biographies of Franklin into place according to his revised headings. Based on publication dates of the books he cut from, Temple Franklin's outlines were created after 1806. Although he did not eventually follow these outlines for his 1818 Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Benjamin Franklin, Temple Franklin was clearly influenced by them as he planned supplementary text for the incomplete Autobiography.

Temple Franklin's outlines, along with his holdings of an introduction to the life and political career of benjamin franklin grandfather's papers and some of his own, were purchased by the U. Additional materials by Franklin are also available in manuscript.

The collection includes many early editions of Franklin's Autobiography, among them these significant versions in chronological order: French translation from partial manuscript; includes Part Only only.

Benjamin Franklin His Autobiography 1706-1757