Literapedia Book Notes for

The Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin

(page numbers refer to the Norton Critical Edition)

Section One (1771):

  • introduction to bastard son (1)
  • list of known ancestors (2–5)
  • minnow wharf (7)
  • indentured to brother (10)
  • method of argumentation (13–14)
  • letters from Silence Dogood (15)
  • brakes indentures with brother (17)
  • entrance into Philadelphia with rolls (20)
  • avoids the two strumpets (26)
  • “fish eat fish, so why can’t I?” (28)
  • poetry contest (30)
  • left Philadelphia for England (31)
  • forgets Deborah (34)
  • “attempted familiarities” with Mrs. T (36)
  • not drinking on the job (36–37)
  • return to Philadelphia (40)
  • early moral reasoning (45–46)
  • begins in business for himself (47)
  • Junto (47–48)
  • Franklin becomes the sole owner of his business (53)
  • the importance of appearing industrious (54)
  • Franklin marries Deborah
  • starts subscription library (57)

Section Two (1784):

  • second telling of the library (63)
  • silver spoon and china bowl (65)
  • religious views (66)
  • List of Virtues (67)
  • method of argument that allows for the appearance of humility (75)

Section Three (1788):

  • first published Poor Richard’s Almanac (79)
  • first elected office—1736 (84)
  • “having a kindness done” (85)
  • becomes deputy postmaster (85)
  • starts fire department (86)
  • Reverend Whitefield (87–90)
  • University of Pennsylvania (91)
  • starts militia (92)
  • dealing with the Quaker aversion to war (94–96)
  • Franklin stove (97)
  • more University of Pennsylvania (100)
  • Indians and fire water (101)
  • procures matching funds for a public hospital (102–104)
  • advertisement for wagons (115)
  • “when men are employ’d, they are best contented”—scour the anchor (126)
  • chaplain dealing out rum (126)
  • Franklin’s experiments with electricity (130–134)
  • promises to build a lighthouse (142)

Section Four (1789):

  • in response to the statement, “...the King is the legislator of he colonies!” Franklin responds, “...this was new doctrine to me” (143)
  • Franklin is accused of rudeness to the English (145)