52 in 52 Book Summaries

Book Summary: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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The Essence

Benjamin Franklin’s international bestselling Autobiography distills the method of living a better life from one of history’s greatest. From Scheduling methodology to his desire to achieve moral perfection, Franklin's drive for personal accountability is a timeless tale of human ambition. What is most apparent when recounting Benjamin Franklin’s life is that life’s achievements have no expiration date; his age had no limits on his capabilities to astound the world. After much success in a variety of industries and disciplines, he goes on to make great waves as a founding father and diplomat. Forgo dwelling in the past ‘glory day’, for your story may just be getting started.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Journal Entry Notes:

This is my book summary of The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. My notes are a reflection of the journal write up above. Written informally, the notes contain a mesh and mix of quotes and my own thoughts on the book. Sometimes, to my own fault, quotes are interlaced with my own words. Though rest assured, I am not attempting to take any credit for the main ideas below. The Journal write up includes important messages and crucial passages from the book.

The Goal of Moral Perfection

13 names of virtues. All that at that time occurred to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully expressed that extent I gave to its meaning:

Temperance: Eat not to dullness Drink not to elevation
Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation.
Order: Let all things have their places. Let each part of business have its time.
Resolution: Resolve to perform without fail what you resolve.
Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself. Waste nothing.
Industry: Lose no time. –Be always employed in something useful- Cut off all unnecessary actions.
Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit. Think innocently and justly and; if you speak; speak accordingly.
Justice: Wrong none, by doing injuries or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
Moderation: Avoid extremes. Forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanness in body, clothes, or habitation.
Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
Chasity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring; never to dullness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

• Human Felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.
• Over sensations being very much fixed to the moment, we are apt to forget that more moments are to follow the first, and consequently that man should arrange his conduct so as to suit the WHOLE of a life. Your attribution appears to have been applied to your life, and the passing moments of it have been enlivened with content and enjoyment, instead of being tormented with foolish impatience or regrets. Such a conduct is easy for those who make virtue and themselves their standard and… by example of other truly great men “

• Like him who having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, but works on one of the beds at a time.
• He that has once done to you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.
• The Junto: The most ingenious acquaintance into a club for mutual improvement.
• Find satisfaction in seeing your fault diminish.
• READ. Constant study every day.
• There is perhaps no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as PRIDE.
• One man of tolerable abilities may work great changes and accomplish great affairs among mankind; if he first forms a good plan and cutting off all attention makes the execution of that same plan his sole study and business.
• Make it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiment of others, and all positive assertion of my own.
• Rather than, Certainly or undoubtedly.
Adopt: I conceive, or I apprehend, I imagine.
Leave space for the other persons claims to be considered correct. Do not spark debate or argument overstating what you believe to be the facts of the matter.

If you liked what you saw. Here are 3 titles that I recommend based on what was discussed in The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

  1. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
  2. Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  3. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

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