Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 123

as an act of mine, but of some _publick-spirited gentlemen_,
avoiding as much as I could, according to my usual rule, the
presenting myself to the publick as the author of any scheme for their

The subscribers, to carry the project into immediate execution, chose
out of their number twenty-four trustees, and appointed Mr.
Francis,[86] then attorney-general, and myself to draw up constitutions
for the government of the academy; which being done and signed, a
house was hired, masters engag'd, and the schools opened, I think, in
the same year, 1749.

[86] Tench Francis, uncle of Sir Philip Francis,
emigrated from England to Maryland, and became attorney
for Lord Baltimore. He removed to Philadelphia and was
attorney-general of Pennsylvania from 1741 to 1755. He
died in Philadelphia August 16, 1758.--Smyth.

The scholars increasing fast, the house was soon found too small, and
we were looking out for a piece of ground, properly situated, with
intention to build, when Providence threw into our way a large house
ready built, which, with a few alterations, might well serve our
purpose. This was the building before mentioned, erected by the
hearers of Mr. Whitefield, and was obtained for us in the following

It is to be noted that the contributions to this building being made
by people of different sects, care was taken in the nomination of
trustees, in whom the building and ground was to be vested, that a
predominancy should not be given to any sect, lest in time that
predominancy might be a means of appropriating the whole to the use of
such sect, contrary to the original intention. It was therefore that
one of each sect was appointed, viz., one Church-of-England man, one
Presbyterian, one Baptist, one Moravian, etc., those, in case of
vacancy by death, were to fill it by election from among the
contributors. The Moravian happen'd not to please his colleagues, and
on his death they resolved to have no other of that sect. The
difficulty then was, how to avoid having two of some other sect, by
means of the new choice.

Several persons were named, and for that reason not agreed to. At
length one mention'd me, with the observation that I was merely an
honest man, and of no sect at all, which prevailed with them to chuse
me. The enthusiasm which existed when the house was built had long
since abat'd, and its trustees had not been able to procure fresh
contributions for paying the ground-rent, and discharging some other

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Text Comparison with The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Page 5
There fell lately into my hands, in London, a collection he had made of all the principal pamphlets, relating to public affairs, from 1641 to 1717; many of the volumes are wanting as appears by the numbering, but there still remain eight volumes in folio, and twenty-four in quarto and in octavo.
Page 7
My early readiness in learning to read (which must have been very early, as I do not remember when I could not read), and the opinion of all his friends, that I should certainly make a good scholar, encouraged him in this purpose of his.
Page 14
I also sometimes jumbled my collections of hints into confusion, and after some weeks endeavored to reduce them into the best order, before I began to form the full sentences and compleat the paper.
Page 34
I have since kept several Lents most strictly, leaving the common diet for that, and that for the common, abruptly, without the least inconvenience, so that I think there is little in the advice of making those changes by easy gradations.
Page 38
I picked out six or seven, that, by the handwriting, I thought might be the promised letters, especially as one of them was directed to Basket, the king's printer, and another to some stationer.
Page 43
, etc.
Page 50
was to teach them, though he knew neither one nor t'other.
Page 57
And William Coleman, then a merchant's clerk, about my age, who had the coolest, dearest head, the best heart, and the exactest morals of almost any man I ever met with.
Page 60
" I agreed to this proposal: it was drawn up in writing, sign'd, and seal'd immediately.
Page 67
"PARIS, January 31, 1783.
Page 73
The books were imported; the library was opened one day in the week for lending to the subscribers, on their promissory notes to pay double the value if not duly returned.
Page 77
Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
Page 86
, to be made use of in it, some of which I have still by me; but the necessary close attention to private business in the earlier part of thy life, and public business since, have occasioned my postponing it; for, it being connected in my mind with a great and extensive project, that required the whole man to execute, and which an unforeseen succession of employs prevented my attending to, it has hitherto remain'd unfinish'd.
Page 87
And this mode, which I at first put on with some violence to natural inclination, became at length so easy, and so habitual to me, that perhaps for these fifty years past no one has ever heard a dogmatical expression escape me.
Page 88
"There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a United Party for Virtue, by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be govern'd by suitable good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.
Page 109
our principles have been improving, and our errors diminishing.
Page 122
The debates upon it in Congress went on daily, hand in hand with the Indian business.
Page 123
I said, "No; you may, on the contrary, have a very comfortable one, if you will only take care not to enter into any dispute with the Assembly.
Page 125
But the governor refusing his assent to their bill (which included this with other sums granted for the use of the crown), unless a clause were inserted exempting the proprietary estate from bearing any part of the tax that would be necessary, the Assembly, tho' very desirous of making their grant to New England effectual, were at a loss how to accomplish it.
Page 151
The general replied, "If you can do it in one day, I give leave; otherwise not; for you must certainly sail the day after to-morrow.