The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
It will moreover present a table of the internal circumstances of your country, which will very much tend to invite to it settlers of virtuous and manly minds. And considering the eagerness with which such information is sought by them, and the extent of your reputation, I do not know of a more efficacious advertisement than your Biography would give. (2.9)
Benjamin Vaughan, Franklin's friend, urges him to keep writing his autobiography, but the reason he gives here is that it will work as great propaganda for American settlers. Franklin is such a stellar representative of this new nation, Vaughan asserts, that people will be more likely to emigrate there because they want to follow his example.
Let Englishmen be made not only to respect, but even to love you. When they think well of individuals in your native country, they will go nearer to thinking well of your country; and when your countrymen see themselves well thought of by Englishmen, they will go nearer to thinking well of England. (2.28)
Vaughan again, now telling Franklin that he owes it to British-American international relations to finish writing his autobiography. Finishing this text, according to this logic, is the one think that may help reconcile Brits and Americans to start being agreeable again.
Reading became fashionable, and our People having no public Amusements to divert their Attention from Study became better acquainted with Books, and in a few Years were observ'd by Strangers to be better instructed and more intelligent than People of the same Rank generally are in other Countries. (2.33)
Again, reading becomes a big part of the American self-image and a class equalizer. It's probably partially due to Puritan society – that's the lack of "public Amusements" which gives people all this reading time – but Franklin's saying that, because of all this reading, average non-aristocratic Americans are way more educated than their foreign counterparts. Some roots to the American Dream can be found here: a good education can change your class standing.