Autobiography of Ben Franklin (1791)

Benjamin Franklin‘s Autobiography chronicles the first half-century of his life and contains the author’s reflections on life, literature, religion, and philosophy. Franklin began writing the book in 1771 while he was living in England. The account of his life ends at age 51 (1757), well before the American Revolution, so the book does not discuss the Founding period or the Constitution. It was first published in France.

Like many of his writings, Franklin’s Autobiography contains much advice about living a virtuous life. Franklin wrote about the values of industry: “when Men are employ’d they are best contented;” and perseverance and integrity: “Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.” He also wrote about many other civic values including courageequalitymoderationjustice, and responsibilities of citizenship.