The life of Benjamin Franklin should be of importance to every American, primarily because of the part he played in securing the independence of the United States and in establishing it as a nation. Franklin shares with Washington the honors of the Revolution, and of the events leading to the birth of the new nation. While Washington was the animating spirit of the struggle in the colonies, Franklin was its ablest champion abroad. To Franklin's cogent reasoning and keen satire, we owe the clear and forcible presentation of the American case in England and France; while to his personality and diplomacy as well as to his facile pen, we are indebted for the foreign alliance and the funds without which Washington's work must have failed. His patience, fortitude, and practical wisdom, coupled with self-sacrificing devotion to the cause of his country, are hardly less noticeable than similar qualities displayed by Washington. In fact, Franklin as a public man was much like Washington, especially in the entire disinterestedness of his public service. Franklin is also interesting to us because by his life and teachings he has done more than any other American to advance the material prosperity of his countrymen. It is said that his widely and faithfully read maxims made Philadelphia and Pennsylvania wealthy, while Poor Richard's pithy sayings, translated into many languages, have had a world-wide influence. Franklin is a good type of our American manhood. Although not the wealthiest or the most powerful, he is undoubtedly, in the versatility of his genius and achievements, the greatest of our self-made men. The simple yet graphic story in the Autobiography of his steady rise from humble boyhood in a tallow-chandler shop, by industry, economy, and perseverance in self-improvement, to eminence, is the most remarkable of all the remarkable histories of our self-made men. It is in itself a wonderful illustration of the results possible to be attained in a land of unequaled opportunity by following Franklin's maxims.
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Benjamin Franklin was a rather large man, and is supposed to have been about five feet ten inches in height. In his youth he was stout, and in old age corpulent and heavy, with rounded shoulders. The portraits of him reveal a very vigorous-looking man, with a thick upper arm and a figure which, even in old age, was full and rounded. In fact, this rounded contour is the characteristic of Lincoln. Franklin’s figure was a series of harmonious curves, which make pictures of him always pleasing. These curves extended over his head and even to the lines of his face, softening the expression, slightly veiling the iron resolution, and entirely consistent with the wide sympathies, varied powers infinite shrewdness, and vast experience which we know he possessed. In his earliest portrait as a youth of twenty he looks as if his bones were large; but in later portraits this largeness of bone which he might have had from his Massachusetts origin is not so evident. He was, however, very muscular, and prided himself on it. When he was a young printer, as he tells us in his Autobiography, he could carry with ease a large form of letters in each hand up and down stairs. In his old age, when past eighty, he is described as insisting on lifting unaided heavy books and dictionaries to show the strength he still retained. He was not brought up on fox-hunting and other sports, like Washington, and there are no amusements of this sort to record of him, except his swimming, in which he took great delight and continued until long after he had ceased to be a youth. He appears, when a boy, to have been fond of sailing in Boston Harbor, but has told us little about it. In swimming he excelled. He could perform all the ordinary feats in the water which were described in swimming-books of his day, and on one occasion tied himself to the string of a kite and was towed by it across a pond a mile wide. In after-years he believed that he could in this way cross the English Channel from Dover to Calais, but he admitted that the pocket-boat was preferable. His natural fondness for experimental led him to try the effect of fastening oval paddles to his hands which gave him greater speed in swimming, but were to fatiguing to his wrists. Paddles or large sandals fastened to his feet he soon found altered the stroke, which he the observant boy had discovered was made with the inside of the feet and ankles as well as with the flat part of the foot.
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Book Description Createspace Independent Pub, 2016. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 366 pages. 9.00x6.00x0.83 inches. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk1535094001