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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin


by Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Timeline and Summary

  • Franklin describes his reasons for writing the Autobiography.
  • He talks about his early life in Boston, where he's apprenticed to his brother James and runs away to Philadelphia at sixteen.
  • Franklin works as an apprentice to a printer named Keimer, but wants to strike out on his own. Governor Keith offers to send him to England for supplies, but Franklin gets stuck there.
  • In England, Franklin saves money and learns about printing.
  • He returns to Philadelphia as an employee to the Quaker Mr. Denham.
  • When Denham dies, Franklin sets up his own printing business with his friend, Hugh Meredith.
  • He and Meredith split up, Keimer retires, and Franklin's shop starts to do well.
  • Franklin marries Deborah Read and helps found the Junto.
  • Franklin and the Junto found a subscription library.
  • Franklin takes a writing break because of the American Revolution.
  • Two friends encourage Franklin to keep writing, so he does.
  • Franklin tells us more about founding the library, and about a system he's working on to become more virtuous.
  • Franklin takes another writing break, and jumps back in with writing Poor Richard's Almanac, which is really successful.
  • He encounters two preachers, Samuel Hemphill and George Whitefield, and talks about his religious ideas.
  • Franklin and the Junto create a fire department.
  • Franklin and his brother reconcile before his brother dies; Franklin's son Francis also dies.
  • He gets promoted to General Assembly Clerk and Postmaster, and writes Plain Truth in hopes of getting a militia together.
  • With the Junto, Franklin founds the University of Pennsylvania and a public hospital; he also works on improving streets in London and Philadelphia.
  • As the French and Indian War begins, Franklin works with General Braddock to collect military supplies. He also lends Braddock money.
  • Franklin collects some money from Braddock before Braddock dies, and gets more from General Shirley, but he's still owed some.
  • He helps build defensive forts and turns down a military position as general.
  • Meanwhile, he enjoys scientific success, publishing experiments on electricity. When the experiments are disputed, Franklin is firm and gets rewarded with membership in the Royal Society.
  • Franklin's chosen by the Assembly to go to England and represent them in a dispute with the governor.
  • He has a tough time getting to England, since his boat is repeatedly delayed, but gets there at last.
  • In England, Franklin meets with Lord Granville and argues about what rights the King has versus what rights colonists have.
  • Franklin goes up against Ferdinando Paris in court and then waits a year for the result.
  • After the case is mediated, Franklin returns to Philadelphia, where the colonists celebrate him.