Benjamin Franklin: An American Life
In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America's founders helped define our national character.
Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.
In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.
crowd demanded that they give each other a French embrace, an act that evoked, in the words of Condorcet, such “noisy acclamation one would have said it was Solon who embraced Sophocles.” The comparison to the great Greek philosophers, one famous for his laws and the other for his literature, was proclaimed throughout Europe, as eyewitness John Adams reported with his typical mix of awe and resentment: There was a general cry that M. Voltaire and M. Franklin should be introduced to each other.
War of Jenkins Ear Washington, George BF and BF’s correspondence with Cincinnati Society and at Constitutional Convention in Ohio Valley missions at Yorktown Watson, Joseph Watt, James Watts, John Way to Wealth, The (Franklin) Wealth of Nations, The (A. Smith) weather forecasting Webb, George Webbe, John Weber, Max Webster, Noah Wedderburn, Alexander welfare Wentworth, Paul West, Benjamin Wharton, Samuel Whigs Whitefield, George, White Oak Boys Willard, Samuel William &
for her plight, though Mrs. Read kindly took most of the blame for not having let them marry before he left for London. Fortunately for all, according to Franklin, “our mutual affection was revived.” Around that time, Franklin developed a method for making difficult decisions. “My way is to divide a sheet of paper by a line into two columns, writing over the one Pro and the other Con,” he later recalled. Then he would list all the arguments on each side and weigh how important each was. “Where I
England seeking victory over a fortified French garrison in Canada. “If you do not succeed, I fear I shall have but an indifferent opinion of Presbyterian prayers in such cases as long as I live. Indeed, in attacking strong towns I should have more dependence on works than on faith.” Above all, Franklin’s beliefs were driven by pragmatism. The final sentence of his Junto talk stressed that it was socially useful for people to believe in the version of divine providence and free will that he
The Stamp Act crisis sparked a radical transformation in American affairs. A new group of colonial leaders, who bristled at being subservient to England, were coming to the fore, especially in Virginia and Massachusetts. Even though most Americans harbored few separatist or nationalist sentiments until 1775, the clash between imperial control and colonial rights was erupting on a variety of fronts. Young Patrick Henry, 29, rose in Virginia’s House of Burgesses to decry taxation without