Benjamin Franklin: His Contribution to the American Tradition

By I. Bernard Cohen | Go to book overview

Introduction

I. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND THE AMERICAN TRADITION

IN THE American tradition Benjamin Franklin is the living symbol that America is the land of opportunity: he is the original boy who made good. The facts of his rise to wealth and to fame are more impressive than any story written by Horatio Alger and, being the stuff of life itself, more representative of the American character. "Franklin is claimed by more groups than any other person in our history," as Calvin Coolidge described his reputation in 1927, and admiration for what Franklin did transcends the bounds of color, religion or political party.

Author of The Way to Wealth, Franklin has become a patron saint of businessmen, and the club he founded and called the "Junto" has been claimed as the original "Rotary"; but he is also the hero of the men who work with their hands and it was as artisan -- printer and mechanic -- that he made his way in the world. "A penny saved is a penny earned" may be found engraved on the walls of savings banks throughout the land, but printers remember that at the height of his national prestige and international fame he still described himself as a craftsman: "Benjamin Franklin, of Philadelphia, printer," adding in a lesser place that he was also "late Minister Plenipotentiary from the

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Benjamin Franklin: His Contribution to the American Tradition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Introduction For The Makers of the American Tradition Series vii
  • Foreword xi
  • Contents xxi
  • Chronology xxiii
  • I Introduction 27
  • II ◆ The Lessons of Experience 68
  • III · Self-Improvement and Mutual Aíd 112
  • IV ◆ In the Service of the Community 164
  • V Inventions and Applications of Science 189
  • VI ◆ The Style of Being American 225
  • Bibliography 307
  • Index 309
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