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MonkeyNotes-The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
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FRANKLIN - A MAN With MANY SHADES

In 1733, Franklin helps one of his employees to set up a printing press in Charleston, South Carolina. Franklin pays one-third of the expenses of the Charleston press and receives one-third of the profits in return. When his partner in this enterprise dies, Franklin allows his Dutch widow to continue the business. Franklin is pleased with her skills of accounting and business management, and feels that more American women should be involved in business.

Around 1734, a preacher named Hemphill arrives in town, and Franklin hears that he delivers good sermons that instruct the congregation about virtue. As a result, Franklin begins to attend church again. There is, however, severe opposition to this minister from the conservative element. Before long they accuse him of delivering sermons composed by others. The preacher transfers as a result, and Franklin again stops attending church.

In 1733, Franklin starts learning languages. He masters French, and learns Italian and Spanish. He practices his Italian while playing chess with a friend; whoever wins the game gets to assign the other an assignment in grammar. Franklin finds the romance languages easy to learn and feels that students should study one of these languages before learning Latin, which is more difficult.

During this period, Franklin tries to make up for another errata in his life. He has been alienated from his brother James for ten years. When Franklin returns to Boston, he tries to make up for all the lost affection with James. Later, when James is sick and dying, Franklin promises to take care of James' son after his death. Franklin also helps James' wife in looking after their printing business until her son grows up and can manage the business.

Franklin regrets that his carelessness results in the death of his four-year-old son from small pox. Franklin advises all parents that a timely inoculation against small pox is vitally important. Franklin feels that an inoculation would have saved his child.

The Junto Club continues to prosper. Several other gentlemen want to become members, but the number of the club is restricted to twelve. Franklin advises the interested men to start new clubs. He feels such clubs help people, especially young men, to improve their knowledge and their ability to influence public opinion.

In 1736 Franklin is selected unanimously as the clerk of the General Assembly for the first time. The following year a wealthy and influential man opposes him. Franklin has enjoyed the position and its monetary benefits and power, so he does not want to lose the election. He overcomes his opponent very cleverly. Franklin requests his challenger to lend him a book, which Franklin promptly returns with a sincere note of thanks. This act makes the opponent feel obliged to Franklin, and they later become good friends after Franklin wins the election. Franklin observes that services requested of a man will make him feel more obliged than a man to whom you oblige with a service.

Franklin continues to make gains from his honesty and hard work. In 1737, Col. Spotswood, late governor of Virginia, grows unhappy with his deputy's work in accounting and offers the post to Franklin, who he knows is diligent and honest. Besides giving him more public exposure, this office proves to be beneficial to Franklin in promoting his business.

Now financially secure, Franklin begins his life of public service in earnest. He starts by writing and presenting a series of papers about the ills prevalent in society. He calls for regulating the City Watch and for creating an organization for fire fighting. These papers are the basis for the formulation of the Union Fire Company, to fight fires in the community, and for laws governing the City Watch.

While returning from England in 1739, Franklin meets a very interesting preacher, Mr. Whitfield. Although the traditional clergy opposes Whitfield, Franklin supports him. Mr. Whitfield's oratory powers and his ability to communicate with a vast multitude of people who attend his sermons impress him. As a result, Franklin helps in constructing a large meeting place, which provides a pulpit for any preacher from any religion. Franklin decides, however, that he is not going to contribute to Mr. Whitfield's project of constructing an orphan house in Georgia. After hearing Whitfield's sermon about the orphan house however, Franklin empties his pocket of his gold and silver for the project. Obviously, Franklin is impressed with this preacher's persuasive powers. He regrets that Whitfield decides to publish his sermons, for in print they lose their power. Many critics attack Mr. Whitfield's written sermons, which only serves to decrease the number of his followers.

Franklin continues to be a successful printer, and his main business is minting money. He also continues to set up other partnerships, on the same terms that he did in South Carolina. Franklin has obviously become an honest, but shrewd, businessman.

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