Author: Benjamin Franklin
Publisher: Independently Published
INTRODUCTIONWe Americans devour eagerly any piece of writing that purports to tellus the secret of success in life; yet how often we are disappointed tofind nothing but commonplace statements, or receipts that we know byheart but never follow. Most of the life stories of our famous andsuccessful men fail to inspire because they lack the human elementthat makes the record real and brings the story within our grasp.While we are searching far and near for some Aladdin's Lamp to givecoveted fortune, there is ready at our hand if we will only reach outand take it, like the charm in Milton's _Comus_, "Unknown, and like esteemed, and the dull swain Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon;"the interesting, human, and vividly told story of one of the wisestand most useful lives in our own history, and perhaps in any history.In Franklin's _Autobiography_ is offered not so much a ready-madeformula for success, as the companionship of a real flesh and bloodman of extraordinary mind and quality, whose daily walk andconversation will help us to meet our own difficulties, much as doesthe example of a wise and strong friend. While we are fascinated bythe story, we absorb the human experience through which a strong andhelpful character is building.The thing that makes Franklin's _Autobiography_ different from everyother life story of a great and successful man is just this humanaspect of the account. Franklin told the story of his life, as hehimself says, for the benefit of his posterity. He wanted to help themby the relation of his own rise from obscurity and poverty to eminenceand wealth. He is not unmindful of the importance of his publicservices and their recognition, yet his accounts of these achievementsare given only as a part of the story, and the vanity displayed isincidental and in keeping with the honesty of the recital. There isnothing of the impossible in the method and practice of Franklin as hesets them forth. The youth who reads the fascinating story isastonished to find that Franklin in his early years struggled with thesame everyday passions and difficulties that he himself experiences, and he loses the sense of discouragement that comes from arealization of his own shortcomings and inability to attain.There are other reasons why the _Autobiography_ should be an intimatefriend of American young people. Here they may establish a closerelationship with one of the foremost Americans as well as one of thewisest men of his age.The life of Benjamin Franklin is of importance to every Americanprimarily because of the part he played in securing the independenceof the United States and in establishing it as a nation. Franklinshares with Washington the honors of the Revolution, and of the eventsleading to the birth of the new nation. While Washington was theanimating spirit of the struggle in the colonies, Franklin was itsablest champion abroad. To Franklin's cogent reasoning and keensatire, we owe the clear and forcible presentation of the Americancase in England and France; while to his personality and diplomacy aswell as to his facile pen, we are indebted for the foreign allianceand the funds without which Washington's work must have failed. Hispatience, fortitude, and practical wisdom, coupled withself-sacrificing devotion to the cause of his country, are hardly lessnoticeable than similar qualities displayed by Washington. In fact, Franklin as a public man was much like Washington, especially in theentire disinterestedness of his public service.