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Benjamin Franklin:
Thinking Outside the Box

Benjamin Franklin spent a lifetime thinking outside the box. He was an American original who was credited with discovering that lightning was really electricity. You know the story - Ben connects a key to a kite string and flies the kite in a thunderstorm. Writing of Bolt of Fate by Tom Tucker, a New Yorker book reviewer noted that "a new book argues that the legend on which Franklin's reputation rests is dubious. There was no kite, no key, no bolt, no knuckle, no charge. He let people believe that he had been places he never went, done things he never did, and seen things that never happened. No wonder he's been called the father of American journalism."

But regardless of the truth of the kite story - and many scholars support its veracity, Franklin consistently thought outside the box. Franklin understood the power of asking the right questions - whether in politics or science. He was a great observer of natural phenomena and a natural experimenter. Harvard Nobel Chemist Dudley Herschbach wrote that Franklin's "work on electricity was recognized as ushering in a scientific revolution comparable to those wrought by Newton in the previous century or by Watson and Crick in ours." Franklin invented bifocals, an innovative fireplace, a urinary catheter, an odometer, an electrical battery, the lightning rod and a strange musical instrument called an "armonica." Franklin wasn't afraid of being wrong. He recorded details "even of an Experiment that does not succeed, since they may give Hints of Amendment in future Trials.'" However, he was disinclined to engage in scientific disputes - preferring to let their veracity be verified empirically rather than rhetorically.

His reputation for technological wizardry was such that it was rumored during the American Revolution that he had invented a way to set the British fleet afire with mirrors. The reputation gave him entree in the 1760s to cream of English society when he represented Pennsylvania and other colonies in Britain. The same reputation - and charm - gave him entree to the cream of French society when he represented America there in the late 1770s and early 1780s. He also thought outside the box when it came to government. When French and Indian forces threatened the American frontier in the 1740s, he organized a militia - and more curiously, a lottery to pay for the weapons needed by the militia. And as head of the militia, he found an innovative way to assure that his soldiers attended religious services; the chaplain was assigned responsibility for distributing rum after Sunday services. Biographer Edmund S. Morgan noted that "his curiosity, once aroused, keeps him ever on the lookout."

In addition to defining government and science, Benjamin Franklin defined himself. He knew who he was and how he wanted to appear. Biographer Walter Isaacson wrote that "Franklin was America's first great imagemaker. Even after he became successful, he made a display of personally carting the rolls of paper he bought in a wheelbarrow down the street to his shop rather than having a hired hand do it." A fellow merchant said of Franklin: "The industry of that Franklin is superior to anything I ever saw of the kind; I see him still at work when I go home from club, and he is at work again before his neighbors are out of bed.'" Franklin himself said of his pursuit of the virtue of humility: "I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the reality of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the appearance of it." According to Isaacson, "Ever the great imagemaker, he cast himself to the French public as a symbol both of the virtuous frontier freedom romanticized by Rousseau and of the Enlightenment's reasoned wisdom championed by Voltaire. In a clever and deliberate manner, leavened by the wit and joie de vivre the French so adored, he portrayed the American cause, through his own personification of it, as that of the natural state fighting the corrupted one."

Franklin knew the importance of first impressions. A Massachusetts clergyman recalled meeting Franklin during the Constitutional Convention when age and illness had hobbled Franklin. He said he "saw a short, fat, trunched old man, in a plain Quaker dress, bald pate, and short white locks, sitting without his hat under the tree, and, as Mr [Elbridge] Gerry introduced me, rose from his chair, took me by the hand, expressed his joy to see me, welcomed me to the city, and begged me to seat myself close to him." The clergyman was not unique in concluding after his visit: "I was highly delighted with the extensive knowledge he appeared to have of every subject, the brightness of his memory, and clearness and vivacity of all his mental faculties, notwithstanding his age (eighty-four). His manners are perfectly easy, and everything about him seems to diffuse an unrestrained freedom and happiness. He has an incessant vein of humour, accompanied with an uncommon vivacity, which seems as natural and involuntary as his breathing."

First impressions did not mean conventional ones. Franklin's unorthodox style was to wear western dress to French court affairs - decidedly an affront to royal eyes. He was loosely thought by the French to be a general and a Quaker - which he wasn't. He was a bon vivant who disdained European convention and excited the admiration of French women for so doing. His Canadian fur cap elicited the admiration of one aristocratic lady who was a regular at court. Her effusive comments were deemed sufficiently obnoxious by the king that he presented her with a chamber pot with a cameo of Franklin's fur-trimmed visage at the bottom.

Franklin had a keen sense of the symbolic importance of dress and look. When he signed a treaty of alliance with France in 1778, he wore a blue velvet coat rather than his customary plain brown coat. The velvet was same coat he had worn when he had been berated by British officials for his role in releasing some private correspondence to Massachusetts colonists. "I wore this coat the day [Alexander] Wedderburn abused me at Whitehall," Franklin explained. He said he wore it for the French ceremony: "To give a little revenge."

In politics and diplomacy, Franklin understood the importance of listening. He wrote: "The great secret of succeeding in conversation is to admire little, to hear much; always to distrust our own reason, and sometimes that of our friends; never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken to what is said and to answer to the purpose." He said of a politician in love with his own voice: "Here comes the orator, with his flood of words and his drop of wisdom."

Franklin didn't believe in compromising principles, but most everything else was up for negotiation. He was journalist and capitalist and he put the skills he had learned in those professions to work when he served as American's ambassador in London and Paris. Franklin biographer Isaacson wrote that Franklin "believed in having humility to be open to different opinions. For him that was not merely a practical virtue but a moral one as well. It was based on the tenet, fundamental to most moral systems, that every individual deserves respect. During the Constitutional Convention, for example, he was willing to compromise some of his beliefs to play a critical role in the conciliation that produced a near-perfect document." One of Franklin's guiding mottos for negotiation was "Both sides must part with some of their demands." He much preferred negotiation to confrontation - although he could practice both. Franklin "preferred to conduct negotiations as though the world were capable of doing right," wrote biographer Morgan.

No American Founder better understood how to negotiate. Much of the last third of Benjamin Franklin's life was spent in negotiation - with the English, with the French, with the members of the American Constitutional Convention. He knew when to draw lines (as he did with the heirs to Pennsylvania's Proprietor William Penn) and when to try to draw circles as he did with the English government in the late 1750s and 1760s - and with the French government in the late 1770s and early 1780s. He understood that to negotiate, you had to communicate. Even during the Revolutionary War, he kept open his channels of communication to English friends - even hiring one who turned out to be a double agent. Meanwhile, he was negotiating military and commercial alliances with France.

According to Franklin, "The way to convince another is to state your case moderately and accurately. Then scratch your head, or shake it a little and say that is the way it seems to you, but that of course you may be mistaken about it; which causes your listener to receive what you have to say, and as like as not, turn about and try to convince you of it, since you are in doubt. But if you go at him in a tone of positiveness and arrogance, you only make an opponent of him."

Franklin was a born contact-maker, organizer and joiner. He was an active Freemason in both the United States and France - utilizing the contacts he made for both business and political purposes. Shortly after he arrived in Philadelphia as a teenager, he formed a friendship with the royal governor, who promised to help set him up in his own printing business. He helped formed a fire company - to which he belonged until his death at age 84. Franklin was no fan of bowling alone. In 1827 - when just 21, he organized the Junto in Philadelphia to investigate and discuss scientific, religious, and philosophical matters. At age 37, he launched the American Philosophical Society to investigate natural phenomena.

But Franklin knew how to use quick wit as well as deep thought. Franklin was the American representative in Paris during and after the Revolutionary War. He was present at Versailles when a British ambassador toasted his own king, comparing him to the sun. The French minister then toasted King Louis XVI and compared him to the moon. Benjamin Franklin then toasted America's military commander: "George Washington, commander of the American armies, who, like Joshua of old, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and they obeyed him." His sense of humor was reflected in a short essay on the importance of the placement of the elbow to facilitate the drinking of wine. Franklin contended that a different configuration of length of the lower and upper arm might have made such diversion almost impossible. "But by the actual situation, we are enabled to drink at our ease, the glass going exactly to the mouth. Let us, then, with glass in hand, adore this benevolent wisdom; let us adore and drink!"

He understood the importance and difficulty of editing. As he often did, Franklin used a parable to explain this essential truth. As Thomas Jefferson was suffering through a 1776 session of the Continental Congress cutting up his draft of the Declaration of Independence, Franklin attempted to ease his pain by telling him a parable of a young hatmaker who wanted to put a sign outside his shop: "He composed it in these words, 'John Thompson, hatter, makes and sells hats for ready money,' with a figure of a hat subjoined. But he thought he would submit it to his friends for their amendments. The first he showed it to thought the word 'Hatter' tautologous, because followed by the words 'makes hats,' which showed he was a hatter. It was struck out. The next observed that the word 'makes' might as well be omitted, because his customers would not care who made the hats...He struck it out. A third said he thought the words 'for ready money' were useless, as it was not the custom of the place to sell on credit. Everyone who purchased expected to pay. They were parted with; and the inscription now stood, 'John Thompson sells hats.' 'Sells hats!' says his next friend; 'why, nobody will expect you to give them away. What then is the use of that word? It was stricken out, and 'hats' followed,...rather [uselessly] as there was painted on the board. So his inscription was reduced ultimately to 'John Thompson," with the figure of a hat subjoined."

Such stories became Franklin's trademark - he used them as Abraham Lincoln did - to make a point, to deflect tension or simply amuse colleagues. Franklin developed what biographer Walter Isaacson called 'a quintessential American genre of humor: the wry, homespun mix of folksy tales and pointed observations that was perfected by such Franklin descendants as Mark Twain and Will Rogers."

Although he was ready to break popular conventions, Franklin lived by a strict set of rules. Biographer H. W. Brand wrote: "Franklin never lost the conviction that virtue conferred right and ought to confer power." In his early 20s, Franklin set up for himself a set of four resolutions which he much later said he had "pretty faithfully adhered to quite through to old age."

  1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, till I have paid what I owe.
  2. To endeavor to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action - the most amiable excellence in a rational being.
  3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.
  4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody."

Charity "was actually the guiding principle of Franklin's life," according to biographer Edmund S. Morgan. Morgan wrote: "during the first couple of years of his retirement from business he seems to have developed a new commitment to using his talents in behalf of others." Morgan wrote that "his public service was not simply a duty he imposed on himself. It was deliberate, conscious, contrived, but at the same time natural. He sought it as he sought company, sought friendship. He is so hard to know because it is so hard to distinguish his natural impulses from his principles." Morgan noted that "Franklin was in some sense a citizen of the world. He did many things because he thought they were good for the world at large, not just for any group within it."

Franklin believed virtue required education. "A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district all studied and appreciated as they merit are the principle support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty," he wrote. The Academy in Philadelphia which Franklin founded later became the University of Pennsylvania. But Franklin understood the limits of even the most prestigious centers of learning. Speaking of those parents who sent their sons to Harvard, Franklin wrote: "most of them consulted their own purses instead of their children's capacities; so that I observed a great many, year, the most part of those who were traveling thither were little better than Dunces and Blockheads."

Indeed, Franklin understood limits in many areas. As America's representative in Paris, he received many requests for letter of recommendations from European military officers who wished to serve in the American Revolution. He sent along the Marquis de Lafayette, Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, and Count Casimir Pulaski but for the bulk of his supplicants, Franklin composed a form letter: "The bearer of this, who is going to America, presses me to give him a letter of recommendation, though I know nothing of him, not even his name. I must refer you to himself for his character and merits, with which he is certainly better acquainted than I can possibly be."

First, as Philadelphia's postmaster and later as the deputy postmaster for the colonies, Franklin understood the importance of improving and controlling the channels of communication.. Franklin began his working life in the printing business and started writing under the pseudonym "Silence Dogood" for his brother's newspaper when he was just 16. In Philadelphia in his early 20s he wrote articles criticizing a rival printer under the pseudonym "Busy Body." At age 23, he took over publication of the Pennsylvania Gazette, and wrote letters to the editor under the name "Alice Addertongue." In subsequent years as Richard Saunders, he was the voice of Poor Richard's Almanac and a wealth of folk wisdom.. He wrote articles, stories and pamphlets throughout his life. As a diplomat in England in 1860, for example, he penned "The Interest of Great Britain Considered, with Regard to Her Colonies and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadeloupe." Even in his seventh decade, Franklin set up a printing press in France to advance the American political cause. Biographer Isaacson noted that Franklin developed a "vertically integrated media conglomerate. He had a printing press, publishing house, newspaper, an almanac series, and partial control of the postal system."

Franklin understood the need for data. And he was constantly collecting information to test his theories. He knew how to use statistics to effect. In 1775, he wrote a British friend: "Britain, at the expense of three millions [of pounds], has killed 150 Yankees this campaign, which [is] 20,000 a head...During the same time, 60,000 children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and expense necessary to kill us all." He understood how to use silence to effect. Biographer Isaacson described "Franklin's artifice of silence, his trick of seeming sage by saying nothing."

But scientist Franklin also understood artistic metaphor. Late in life, he wrote: "long did I endeavor, with unfeigned and unwearied zeal, to preserve from breaking that fine and noble china vase, the British empire; for I knew that, being once broken, the separate parts could not retain even their share of the strength or value that existed in the whole." Chess provided some of his favorite metaphors. After the Constitutional Convention concluded its work, Franklin wrote: "We must not expect that a new government may be formed as a game of chess may be played, by a skillful hand, without a fault." Franklin wrote in The Morals of Chess: "Life is a kind of chess in which we have often points to gain, and competitors and adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and evil events that are, in some degree the effects of prudence or the want of it."

Replying to a scientific skeptic of ballooning who asked "What good is a balloon?" Franklin replied: "What good is a newborn baby?" But Franklin learned to be careful in what he wrote and how a metaphor could singe. After a bad negotiating session with Pennsylvania Proprietor Thomas Penn, Franklin wrote a letter in which complained about Penn's "triumphing laughing insolence, such as a low jockey might do when a purchaser complained that he had cheated him in a horse." Franklin's letter got back to Penn - effectively ending any negotiations with Franklin. Even before that dispute, Penn had recognized that Franklin was "dangerous" because "as he is a sort of Tribune of the People, he must be treated with regard."

He learned to judge the public mood. He misjudged America's reaction to the British Stamp Act in 1765. His willingness to continue to "draw the circle" around American and English interests up until 1770 made him the butt of criticism of more radical colonists. Biographer Brands wrote: "The Boston Massacre and the events surrounding it forced him to focus, to think very carefully about what an acceptable ultimate outcome might be." Franklin himself observed: "I do not find that I have gained any point in either country, except that of rendering myself suspected by my impartiality: in England of being too much an American, and in America of being too much an Englishman." As biographer Edmund Morgan wrote, Franklin showed an "extraordinary capacity for defining large public issues."

When on July 4, 1776 Continental Congress President John Hancock said action on the Declaration of Independence should be unanimous, Franklin again drew the circle around American patriots: "We must indeed all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." He sought the same goal at the Constitutional Convention, saying he hoped "that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously."

Franklin also he learned when it was time to "draw the line" with the English government. In 1775, Franklin wrote a close English friend a letter which clearly drew the line between Americans and British: "You are a member of Parliament, and one of that majority which has doomed my country to destruction. You have begun to burn our towns, and murder our people. Look upon your hands! They are stained with the blood of your relations! You and I were long friends; you are now my enemy, and I am yours." (Although Franklin allowed the letter to be made public, he never sent it to his friend - substituting a much milder letter which said "Words and arguments are now of no use.") In 1776, an erstwhile British friend, General Richard Howe, tried to engage him in negotiations, but Franklin cut him short, writing: "These atrocious Injuries have extinguished every remaining Spark of Affection for that Parent Country we once held so dear: But were it possible for us to forget and forgive them, it is not possible for you (I mean the British Nation) to forgive the People you have so heavily injured; you can never confide again in those as Fellow Subjects, and permit them to enjoy equal Freedom, to whom you know you have given such just Cause of lasting Enmity."

Even in conflict, Franklin valued manners. "Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none," was Franklin's advice. He wrote in the London Gazette in 1768: "I would recommend to all writers on American affairs (however hard their arguments may be) soft words, civility and good manners." A decade later, he wrote one of his cantankerous fellow American diplomats in Paris: "I do not like to answer angry letters. I hate disputes. I am old, cannot have long to live, have much to do and no time for altercation." He dealt as patiently as possible with jealous colleagues and critics like John Adams. He was not, however, a slave to the etiquette - which General Lafayette told him was "foolish law." Franklin favorably compared the respect for elders evidenced in the councils of Native Americans with the British Parliament "where scarce a day passes without some confusion that makes the Speaker hoarse in calling to order."

Franklin recognized that his personality needed to be adaptable. Isaacson wrote that "Franklin began to tailor for himself a persona that was less contentious and confrontational, which made him seem endearing and charming as he grew older - or, to a small, but vocal cadre of enemies, manipulative and conniving. Being 'disputatious,' he concluded, was 'a very bad habit' because contradicting people produced 'disgusts and perhaps enmities.' Later in his life he would wryly say of disputing: 'Persons of good sense, I have since observed, seldom fall into it, except lawyers, university men, and men of all sorts that have been bred in Edinburgh.'"

Franklin was a social man with a great talent for acquiring friends. Biographer Isaacson wrote: "His most notable trait was a personal magnetism; he attracted people who wanted to help him. Never shy, and always eager to win friends and patrons, he gregariously exploited this charm." John Adams, himself a frequent diary critic of Franklin, wrote: "He had wit at will. He had a humor that, when pleased, was delicate and delightful. He had a satire that was good-natured or caustic, Horace or Juvenal, Swift or Rabelais, at his pleasure. He had talents for irony, allegory and fable that he could adapt with great skill to the promotion of moral and political truth. He was a master of that infantile simplicity which the French call naiveté, which never fails to charm."

Franklin learned early that relationships needed to be tempered by humility. Biographer Isaacson wrote "Franklin was a natural shopkeeper: clever, charming, astute about human nature, and eager to succeed." However, Franklin repeatedly had to deal with his colleagues' jealousy of his reputation, wit and accomplishments. As a young man, Ben Franklin had a meeting with the Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather. On leaving Mather's library, Mather told Franklin to "Stoop, Stoop." Franklin didn't comprehend the admonition quickly enough and his head hit a low beam. Mather told young Franklin: "Let this be a caution to you not always to hold your head so high. Stoop, young man, stoop - as you go through this world - and you'll miss many hard thumps.'"

Nevertheless, there was an air of mystery about Franklin. Biographer Edmund S. Morgan wrote "For all his seemingly spontaneous openness, he kept a kind of inner core of himself intact and unapproachable.. According to biographer Carl Becker, "In all of Franklin's dealings with men and affairs, genuine, sincere, loyal as he surely was, one feels that he is nevertheless not wholly committed; some thought remains uncommunicated; some penetrating observation is held in reserve."

There was also a driven quality to Franklin. Biographer Edmund S. Morgan wrote: "Franklin occasionally reproached himself for his indolence, but the reproaches are about as convincing as the habit of zealous saints in bemoaning their sinfulness. Franklin had always to be doing something." Above all, Franklin was focused on the future. "It was part of Franklin's credo to look forever forward, to dwell not on the past but on the future," wrote biographer Brands. Even on his final transatlantic voyage at age 79, he spent his time conducting investigations on the nature of the Gulf Stream. As a scientist, Franklin understood the need to test assumptions and get empirical proof for his theories. He observed phenomena relentlessly. For example, he deducted the principle of refrigeration by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one. Throughout careful collection of data along the eastern seaboard, Franklin discovered that "northeasters" moved from the Southwest to the Northeast even though their winds blew from the Northeast.

He wasn't just concerned with mechanical mysteries and external problems. Franklin had a health fetish long before it was fashionable. As a youth, he was a long-distance swimmer at a time when swimming was disdained. "Franklin proved, to his own satisfaction at least, that people caught cold from one another and from 'too full Living with too little Exercise,' not from being chilled,'" note biographer Edmund S. Morgan. He firmly believed in the value of fresh air and insisted on sleeping with an open window and taking "air baths." For financial reasons, Franklin became a vegetarian as a teenager - a habit he dropped when his finances improved.

Indeed, much of what we learned as schoolchildren about Franklin is contained in the high-carbohydrate description he wrote about his arrival in Philadelphia in 1723: "I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and, inquiring where he got it, I went immediately to the baker's he directed me to, in Second-street, and ask'd for bisket, intending such as we had in Boston; but they, it seems, were not made in Philadelphia. Then I asked for a three-penny loaf, and was told they had none such. So not considering or knowing the difference of money, and the greater cheapness nor the names of his bread, I bade him give me three-penny worth of any sort. He gave me, accordingly, three great puffy rolls. I was surpriz'd at the quantity, but took it, and having no room in my pockets, walk'd off with a roll under each arm, and eating the other."

The precocious Franklin early understood how to analyze problems - both scientific and political. He wrote that his "way is to divide half a sheet of paper by a line into two columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four days' consideration I put down under the different heads short hints of the different motives that at different times occur to me for or against the measure. When I have thus got them all together in one view, I endeavour to estimate their respective weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out. If I find a reason pro equal to some two reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two reasons con equal to some three reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the balance lies." Throughout careful collection of data along the eastern seaboard, Franklin discovered that "northeasters" moved from the Southwest to the Northeast even though their winds blew from the Northeast.

"Making a virtue of necessity," wrote Franklin biographer H.W. Brands was "one of his trademark gifts." Often, that meant being patient. He was committed to the mission - leaving for Paris to represent America when he was 70 and in bad health. The month-long transatlantic crossing was sheer torture. He remained in Paris long after he wished to be relieved of duties - returning to Philadelphia nine years later. He knew that organization was necessary for stability. At the Constitutional Convention, Franklin opposed giving the nation's chief executive a salary, arguing "There are two passions which have a powerful influence on the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice: the love of power and the love of money." But despite this paean to idealism, Franklin was practical and supported the final document, saying: "I agree to this constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered."

After his work on the Constitutional Convention, he said: "Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes." This talent for memorable phrasing had been developed at an earlier age and is exemplified by his aphorisms in Poor Richard's Almanack (see attached).

Wise as Franklin was, he sometimes sided with the turkeys - opposing the adoption of the bald eagle as a national symbol on grounds of virtue: "He is a bird of bad moral character; he does not get his living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead tree, near the river where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labour of the fishing hawk; and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this injustice he is never in good case; but, like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. Besides, he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow, attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district." Franklin wrote his daughter: "The turkey is a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America."

Biographer Thomas Fleming noted that Franklin's "last public act was a memorial to Congress urging the abolition of slavery, which he signed shortly before his death. That farewell gesture epitomizes the mature Franklin, a far more complex and significant figure than the simplistic image of the success-hungry young businessman in his Autobiography. In many ways Americans have yet to grasp the full range of his accomplishments as a Founding Father."1

   H. W. Brands, The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin (Doubleday, 2000)
   Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (first published by J.P. Lippincott & Co, 1868)
   Walter Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (Simon & Schuster, 2003)
   Blaine McCormick, Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management (Irvine, California: Entrepreneur Press, 2000)
   Edmund S. Morgan, Benjamin Franklin (Yale University Press, 2002)
   Tom Tucker, Bolt of Fate (Public Affairs, 2003)

  1. Eric A. Foner and John A. Garraty, editors, The Reader's Companion to American History, p. 418.
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