Book: Benjamin Franklin, An American Life

51e4pdrivkl-_sx328_bo1204203200_Benjamin Franklin is certainly one of those “Larger than Life” personas. One of the founding fathers whose face is forever immortalized in a $100 bill.

Apart from the United States, he is also a first founding father of self-improvement. His “moral improvement project” was well publicized then and now and his peers were quite impressed with his progress.

While treating his traits seriously, Franklin was quite a joker and a very good observer of human nature. He had good understanding of human behaviour and a theatrical flair.

He also had enormous influence over tho course of US gaining independence, securing French help in helping to rebel against British and influencing the public to fight for freedom

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Interesting facts

  • He never stopped pursuing scientific research. After essentially inventing and pioneering lightning rods, he researched influence of oil on calming waves.
  • He put a lot of conscious effort in “showing the work”. While he was a printer, he carried the huge rolls of paper himself even though he had lots of employees that could do that for him. This was a showman’s trick, kbut worked in his favour.
  • He founded several libraries and a college
  • For a longer time, he was supporting slavery, but later he turned totally against it.
  • His first public post was being a chief postman and he pushed the whole organization lightyears ahead
  • He had lots of platonic romanses
  • He was involved in quite a few public initiatives that were very profitable for him. Public guard, Fire brigades, Sidewalk sweeping, Lighthouses, constitution
  • Despite being thought of as purely american, he spent almost half of his life in London while trying to repair British and US relations prior to Declaration of Independence
  • He used to publish sarcastic pieces anonymously. He agreed vehemently with his opponents, pushing their point of view to the extremes making the whole point of view grotesque and hard to agree with. He was publishing under many aliases – one of them “Silence Dogood” became quite popular. He was a printer himself, but he often left these pieces on his competitors steps. They made quite a bit of money printing them. His brother – also a printer – beat him up once consumed by jealousy when ho found out he also was tricked
  • When he was young, he considered saying grace before each meal a tedious chore so he wanted to say grace over whole barrel of salted meat so he could be done for the whole winter
  • He spent total of 2 years in school
  • Franklin is actually responsible for the sentence “We hold this truths to be self-evident

Moral Improvement Project

He had his tablet and every day he focused on one trait

  1. TEMPERANCE: Eat not to Dulness. Drink not to Elevation.
  2. SILENCE: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling Conversation.
  3. ORDER: Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
  4. RESOLUTION: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY: Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY: Lose no Time. Be always employ’d in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.
  7. SINCERITY: Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE: Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
  9. MODERATION: Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS: Tolerate no Uncleanliness in Body, Clothes, or Habitation.
  11. TRANQUILITY: Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY: Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dulness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation.
  13. HUMILITY: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


  • Well done is better then well said
  • By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail
  • When you’re finished changing, you’re finished
  • Never confuse motion with action
  • There are three things that are extremely hard: Steel, a diamond and to know one’s self





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