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Ben Franklin's Autobiography

Updated on July 5, 2010
Ben Franklin
Ben Franklin

Ben Franklin’s Autobiography

Ben Franklin’s autobiography is one of the greatest autobiographies from the American Colonial period. He originally wrote it for his son William. In Chapter eight Franklin lists thirteen moral virtues that he “met with in my reading”. He goes on to explain how he would concentrate on one virtue at a time and rotate through the thirteen virtues four times a year. I have listed below the moral virtues as they are in his book.

1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; 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 extreams; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. TRANQUILLITY. 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.

Every one of us could benefit from using this list. I have a list of my own “virtues” that I use to improve myself. My list is more specific than Franklin’s list. I should add to my list not to forget the list.

Ben Franklin’s autobiography is interesting not only because of Franklin’s unique intelligence but also because it is a window into the Colonial period.

To read Franklin’s autobiography online:


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    • GNelson profile image

      GNelson 8 years ago from Florida

      BeiYin, Wow you really ran with that! It took Ben Franklin much longer than it took you. I like #5 and # 14.

      Thanks for the Comment.

    • BeiYin profile image

      BeiYin 8 years ago from Ibiza Spain

      My "thirteen virtues":

      1.) Take it easy! But not too easy: Do the best you can out of your responsibility. If you fail, then search why but don't just give the fault to the outside and others!

      2.) Take life serious! But not too serious: Life makes jokes with us, so don't miss the opportunity to laugh!

      3.) Although it is part of human nature that every body is lying to oneself, be critical about yourself and be aware when you are pretending! Then better shut up!

      4.) To follow is part of nature, but be aware what and whom you follow. Don't be a lemming continuing to walk into the abyss!

      5.) Get to know yourself. Question yourself! Find out why you do things. Do what feels right to you!

      6.) Learn by observing and listening. Around you and within yourself.

      7.) Relate to what shows up and watch your reactions! These tell you where you are programmed!

      8.) If you need 'healing' - we all need healing, then get back your balance by doing what you are missing.

      9.) Be aware that the most precious you own, is your *existence* and not any kind of property or possessions. In your existence you don't need more...

      10.) Look around and see that people have the same needs, they all are longing for acceptance, attention and - love.

      11.) When you meet people, observe that they are all acting and reacting out of their need, - many who are starving are reacting with anger and aggression, don't respond out of your reaction, don't let be provoked! Stay calm and yourself!

      12.) Know that you are in a learning, growing and healing process! This is the meaning of the journey! Then you will be able not only to suffer, but also to enjoy it!

      13.) Don't worry, be happy! Do what feels right and not only for yourself, share with others and give freely!

      14.) There is abundance if you are open to receive it, so take off your old worn out concepts you had received from this $%$$$!!!? society. Free yourself! Be who you are and meant to *be*.

      Thanks! I enjoyed writing it!