02 June 2011

It's all about the Benjamin.

My summer reading has hit a major snag.

I am currently teaching one summer class and I am swamped. Swamped in work to grade. Apparently, when you assign work for students, you also have to grade it. OK, I knew that, and I knew I would lose my leisure reading time, but seriously, I didn't expect to lose it so quickly.

Let's look at the assigned reading so far: Ben Franklin's Autobiography, Paine's Common Sense, Winthrop's Model of Christian Charity, and Crevecoeur's Letters from an American Farmer. I've read them all, so a little light re-reading was in order. However, I got sucked in to the Autobiography again. Franklin is a very seductive writer. And fascinating on so many levels.

Part One of the Autobiography is addressed to his son, William, and is written prior to the American Revolution. Franklin is already 65 years old at this point. Then comes the Revolution, William remains loyal to the British, and Franklin basically cuts all ties. However, he never bothers revising Part One to eliminate the few pages that cast the Autobiography as a letter to his son.

At the close of the Revolution, Franklin returns to writing the Autobiography and he's still working on it when he dies in 1790 at the age of 84.

A self-promoter, a businessman with sometimes shady practices, a thoroughly creative inventor, and a tremendous diplomat. We could do worse for a founding father.

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