The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin

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Perhaps because it has been heralded as one of the finest of all autobiographies, I found Ben Franklin’s a bit disappointing. Not that it isn’t interesting, filled as is was with all sorts of trivia not usually found in the history books, but on the other hand, there is nothing outstanding or terribly exciting either. Mostly the autobiography tells of Franklin’s success in various enterprises and of his observations and hurdles along the way.

On the disappointing side The Autobiography said virtually noting about his wife or children, nor are we given details about interactions with other famous patriots of the times. As a matter of fact the account ends in 1765, before the Revolutionary War and the founding of the United States for which Franklin plays such an important role.

Of special interest to me were Franklin’s religious views. He was raised Presbyterian but soon parted company (pp. 117-118). He nevertheless maintained some religious curiosity throughout his life, although he never professed Christ (pp. 117-119,155). Rather, he substituted His own standard of morality for Scriptural teaching (pp. 120ff), rigidly trying to adhere to those standards. He did, however, have many kind words for George Whitefield, the principle instrument whom God used for the Great Awakening.

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