We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.