Franklin’s Outline

February 25, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

I came across Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography–it’s kind of an impressive book- it’s only about a quarter inch think. My favorite part, oddly enough, is the very first few pages, that supply his outline. I’m amazed by the even handed way in which he characterizes all the events of his life – each clause demands the same attention and weight.

ben-franklin-2

FRANKLIN’S OUTLINE for HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY

[Copie d’un Projet tres Curieux de Benjamin Franklin 1 ere Esquisse de ses Memoires. Les additions a l’encre rouge sont de la main de Franklin]

My writing. Mrs. Dogood’s letters. Differences arise between my Brother and me (his temper and mine); their cause in general. His Newspaper. The Prosecution he suffered. My Examination. Vote of Assembly. His manner of evading it. Whereby I become free. My attempt to get employ with other Printers. He prevents me. Our frequent pleadings before our Father. The final Breach. My Inducements to quit Boston. Manner of coming to a Resolution. My leaving him and going to New York (return to eating flesh); thence to Pennsylvania. The journey, and its events on the Bay, at Amboy. The road. Meet with Dr. Brown. His character. His great work. At Burlington. The Good Woman. On the River. My Arrival at Philadelphia. First Meal and first Sleep. Money left. Emloyment. Lodging. First acquaintance with my afterward Wife. With J. Ralph. With Keimer. Their characters. Osborne. Watson. The Govenor takes notice of me. The Occasion and Manner. His character. Offers to set me up. My return to Boston. Voyage and accidents. Reception. My Father dislikes the proposal. I return New York and Philadelphia. Govenor Burnet J. Collins. The Money for Vernon. The Governor’s Deceit. Collins not finding employment goes to Barbados much in my Debt. Ralph and I go to England. Disappointment of Govenor’s Letters. Colonel French his Friend. Cornwallis’s Letters. Cabbin. Denham. Hamilton. Arrival in England. Get employment. Ralph not. He is an expense to me. Adventures in England. Write a Pamphlet and print 100. Schemes. Lyons. Dr. Pemberton. My diligence, and yet poor through Ralph. My Landlady. Her character. Wygate. Wilkes. Cibber. Plays. Books I borrowed. Preachers I heard. Redmayne. At Watt’s. Temperance. Ghost. Conduct and Influence among the Men. Persuaded by Mr. Denham to return with him to Philadelphia and be his clerk. Our voyage and arrival. My resolutions in Writing. My Sickness. His Death. Found D.R. married. Go to work again with Keimer. Terms. His ill usage of me. My Resentment. Saying of Decow. My Friends at Burlington. Agreement with H. Meredith to set up in Partnership. Do so. Success with the Assembly. Hamilton’s Friendship. Sewell’s History. Gazette. Paper money. Webb. Writing Busy Body. Breintnal. Godfrey. His Character. Suit against us. Offer of my Friends, Coleman and Grace. Continue the Business, and M. goes to Carolina. Pamphlet on Paper Money. Gazette from Keimer. Junto credit; its plan and utility. Children. Almanac. The use I made of it. Great industry. Constant study. Father’s Remark and Advice upon Diligence. Carolina Partnership. Learn French and German. Journey to Boston after ten years. Affection of my Brother. His Death, and leaving me his Son. Project of subordinate Juntos. Write occasionally in the papers. Success in Business. Fire companies. Engines. Go again to Boston in 1743. See Dr. Spence. Whitefield. My connection with him. His generosity to me. My returns. Church Differences. My part in them. Propose a College. Not then prosecuted. Propose and establish a Phlisophical Society. War. Electricity. My first knowledge of it. Partnership with D. Hall, &c. Dispute in Assembly upon Defence. Project for it. Plain Battery built. New Castle. My influence in the Council. Colors, Devices, and Mottos. Ladies’ Military Watch. Quakers chosen of the Common Council. Put in the commission of the peace. Logan fond of me. His Library. Appointed Postmaster-General. Chosen Assemblyman. Commissioner to treat with Indians at Carlisle and at Easton. Project and establish Academy. Pamphlet on it. Journey to Boston. At Albany. Plan of union of the colonies. Copy of it. Remarks upon it. It fails, and how. Journey to Boston in 1754. Disputes about it in our Assembly. My part in them. New Govenor. Disputes with him. His character and sayings to me. Chosen Alderman. Project of Hospital. My share in it. Its success. Boxes. Made a Commissioner of the Treasury. My commission of my drawing. Made Colonel. Parade of my Officers. Offence to Proprietor. Assistance to Boston Ambassadors. Journey with Shirley &c. Meet with Braddock. Assistance to him. To the Officers of his Army. Furnish him with Forage. His concessions to me and character of me. Success with my Electrical Experiments. Medal sent me. Present Royal Society and Speech of President. Denny’s Arrival and Courtship to me. His character. My service to the Army in the affair of Quarters. Disputes about the Proprietor’s Taxes continued. Project for paving the City. I am sent to England. Negotiation there. Canada delenda est. My Pamphlet. Its reception and effect. Projects drawn from me concerning the Conquest. Acquaintance made and their service to me- Mrs. S.M. Small, Sir John P., Mr. Wood, Sargent Strahan, and others. Their characters. Doctorate from Edinburgh, St. Andrew’s. Doctorate from Oxford. Journey to Scotland. Lord Leicester. Mr. Prat. De Grey. Jackson. State of Affairs in England. Delays. Eventful Journey into Holland and Flanders. Agency from Maryland. Son’s appointment. My Return. Allowance and thanks. Journey to Boston. John Penn, Governor. My conduct toward him. The Paxton Murders. My Pamphlet. My march to Philadelphia. Governor retires to my House. My conduct. Sent out to the Insurgents. Turn them back. Little thanks. Disputes revived. Resolutions against continuing under Proprietary Government. Another Pamphlet. Cool thoughts. Sent again to England with Petition. Negotiation there. Lord H. His character. Agencies from New Jersey, Georgia, Massachusetts. Journey into Germany, 1766. Civilities received there. Gottingen observations. Ditto into France 1767. Ditto in 1769. Entertainment there at the Academy. Introduced the the King and the Mesdames, Mad. Victoria and Mrs. Lamagnon. Duc de Chaulnes, M. Beaumont. Le Roy, D’Alibard, Nollet. See Journals. Holland. Reprint my papers and add many. Books presented to me from many authors. My Book translated into French. Lightening Kite. Various Discoveries. My manner of prosecuting that Study. King of Denmark invites me to dinner. Recollect my father’s proverb. Stamp Act. My opposition to it. Recommendation of J. Hughes. Amendment of it. Examination in Parliament. Reputation it gave me. Caressed by Ministry. Charles Townsend’s Act. Opposition to it. Stoves and chimney plates. Armonica. Acquaintance with Ambassadors. Russian Intimation. Writing in newspapers.  Glasses from Germany. Grant of Land in Nova Scotia. Sickness. Letters to America returned hither. The consequences. Insurance Office. My character. Costs me nothing to be civil to inferiors; a good deal to be submissive to superiors, &c., &c. Farce of Perpetual Motion. Writing for Jersey Assembly. Hutchinson’s Letters. Temple. Suit in Chancery. Abuse before the Privy Council. Lord Hillsborough’s character and conduct. Lord Dartmouth. Negotiation to prevent the War. Return to America. Bishop of St. Asaph. Congress. Assembly. Committee of Safety. Chevaux-de-frise. Sent to Boston, to the Camp. To Canada, to Lord Howe. To France. Treaty, &c.

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One Response to “Franklin’s Outline”


  1. Came across your blog post when i was doing some research on Franklin Library and Easton Press Books. Anyway – I enjoyed the post and am going to bookmark the blog – I look forward to more. Thanks


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