Franklin is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in American history. The numerous advancements contributed by Franklin were made possible by a lot ofwork on his part. His outlook is best represented by his famous quote, Dostthou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is madeof. Franklin did not sway from that philosophy, and spent little time atleisure, as it was not productive.
Franklins work ethic, moral outlook, andconstant interest in self-improvement throughout his life are his biggest claimsto fame. Franklins strict adherence to his thirteen virtues-which he createdin his pursuit of moral perfection-is responsible for many of his countlesscontributions to the colonies. Very important to Franklins life, was thelittle book he carried on his person at all times. In this book, he charted on aday to day basis, which virtues he had not obeyed, and marked a check for eachmistake. Franklin set aside one week per virtue, and ordered his virtues suchthat whenever perfection in a virtue was attained, it would make achieving thefollowing virtue easier.Order now
Franklin found that he had much to improve upon. Another ingredient to Franklins recipe for greatness was his daily schedule. Franklin divided his day up by the hour and knew what he was to be doing at alltimes. This he found difficult at times, and involving the virtue Order, at onetime he almost gave up. In one of Franklin’s few pessimistic moments, he isquoted as saying, This article (order) therefore cost me so much painfulattention, and my faults in it vexed me so muchthat I was almost ready togive up the attempt and content myself with a faulty character in thatrespect. An amusing anecdote about a man who concludes that a speckled axeis best follows, and in looking back on his life, Franklin demonstrates hismastery of the thirteenth virtue, Humility.
Even before he set his thirteenvirtues to writing, Franklin could be seen demonstrating many of them. In oneinstance involving his friend Collins, Franklin demonstrates Resolution,Justice, and Sincerity. During a voyage, Collins refuses to row, and Franklinresolves to perform what he must. An argument ensued, and Franklin, knowing thatCollins was a good swimmer, decided the only course of action would be to throwhim overboard.
He was in a clear state of mind the whole time, and didabsolutely nothing that he would regret later on. Temperance was also a virtuethat Franklin had practiced his entire life. He was never a heavy drinker, andalways ate in moderation. Franklin prided himself on being an excellent debater,and while creating his virtues, he added Silence as a guide to others explainingone reason he was such an excellent crafter of argument. 2.
Silence- Speaknot but what may benefit others or yourself. Avoid trifling conversation. Franklin means for others not to get caught up in petty squabbles, but rather tospeak only to that which is important, and when doing so, only to benefit theother party. When you mix the Silence virtue with the Sincerity virtue, whichFranklin is quoted as meaning Use no harmful deceit. Think innocently andjustly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly. you will become well respected,and a very powerful arguer.
Franklin himself was both, and through trials,tribulations, and experience, sets forth these very useful tools of debate. Thetwo virtues that Franklin was exceptionally good at were Industry and Frugality. 6. Industry- Lose not time. Be always employed in something useful. Cut offall unnecessary actions.
There was not one time after his childhood duringwhich Franklin was not employed, or at the very least, seeking work. The littleleisure time Franklin allowed himself was spent in the pursuit ofself-education, by reading books or engaging in conversation or argument with afriend. During most of his life he held down many jobs throughout the city, andhad other money coming in from the numerous print shops he had gone intopartnership and paid the overhead costs for. 5. Frugality- Make no expencebut to do good to others or yourself; i. e.
, waste nothing. Most of the moneyFranklin spent went to improving his business or buying a few books, which wasthe only leisure he allowed himself. However, even Franklin himself mademistakes, an example being an excursion with his friend Ralph, to London. He wassent by the governor with the promise of enough money to set up his own printingpress.
Unfortunately for Franklin, the governor backed out of his end of thedeal. He eventually found work, but worked himself into a debt spending money onseeing plays, and dining with his greedy friend. They eventually separated onless than good terms, and Franklin never saw the money Ralph owed him. Franklins view on the situations is as follows, and by the loss of hisfriendship, I found myself relieved from a heavy burden. While the precedingstatement may seem harsh, Franklin is very much justified in saying it, andaccurately demonstrates the economical worth he placed on everything heencountered.
In conclusion, Franklins life was shaped by these thirteenvirtues, and he rarely swayed from the moral path they lit. There is no singlevirtue that can be selected, and thought of as less important than the rest. Thefame and fortune of such a man as Franklin, who followed these thirteenguidelines in his journey to become a morally perfect man, is proof enough thathis system worked, and still would work today. However, Franklins virtues,which he claimed were necessary or desirable, were set by him and for him. An individual must choose the path down which they wish to trod, and follow itwithout hesitation.
Franklins virtues can be appreciated and respected, buthow realistically, in todays society, can they all possibly be attained?Biographies