The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

I started a new class (two classes actually) at American Public University where I am working towards my masters. Though its not an assigned reading I spent part of the weekend reading Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, which I had not read before. I found something that I wanted to share:

Observations on my reading history, in Library, May 9th, 1731.

“That the great affairs of the world, the wars, revolutions, etc., are carried on and affected by parties.

“That the view of these parties is their present general interest, or what they take to be such.

“That the different views of these different parties occasion all confusion.

“That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has his particular private interest in view.

“That as soon as a party has gain’d its general point, each member becomes intent upon his particular interest; which, thwarting others, breaks that party into divisions, and occasions more confusion.

“That few in public affairs act from a meer view of the good of their country, whatever they may pretend; and, tho’ their actings bring real good to their country, yet men primarily considered that their own and their country’s interest was united, and did not act from a principle of benevolence.

“That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view to the good of mankind.

“This is a marginal memorandum.—B.

“There seems to me at present to be great occasion foi raising a United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be govern’d by suitable good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.

“I at present think that whoever attempts this aright, and is well qualified, can not fail of pleasing God, and of meeting with success. B. F.”

I assumed at first that Franklin was speaking of “affected” parties as those combatants of a war. But when he appears to switch to politics, it takes on a whole different meaning, it seems. Anyway, I loved when he wrote: “United Party for Virtue” whereby the “virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be govern’d by suitable good and wise rules…” Dream on Ben, dream on…

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One Response to The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

  1. Pam Walter says:

    I think it’s both interesting and naive that Ben actually thought there were enough virtuous and good politicians to form a body to govern with good and wise rules.

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