"Emersonian Influences on Ben Franklin's Autobiography" This essay shows how Emerson's philosophy of Transcendentalism is shown in Franklin's essay. Uses citations from Emerson's Self-Reliance.

Essay by claggetttUniversity, Master'sA+, February 2004

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"Emersonian Influences on Ben Franklin's Autobiography"

Being one of the first "self-made men" in America, Benjamin Franklin and his autobiography best portrayed many of Ralph Waldo Emerson's views regarding transcendentalism. Coinciding with Emerson's views of self-reliance, Franklin placed a great deal of value on individuality and self worth. He was independent and determined, rising above the poverty in which he and his fourteen other brothers and sisters were raised. Due to the lack of finances in his family, Franklin was removed from all institutions of formal instruction and had to rely upon himself to obtain a quality education. Franklin stated in his autobiography, "[h]aving emerged from the poverty and obscurity in which I was born and bred to a state of affluence with a considerable share of felicity, the conducting means I made use of, which with the blessing of God so well succeeded" (Franklin 321). Franklin did not let this hinder his ambition for perfection, for his desires pushed him forward as an individualist and his natural talents ensured his personal success.

Regardless of his financial state and his ancestral history of poverty, Franklin was determined to educate himself in the arts of literature, science and invention. Being fond of study and reading, Franklin stated that "all the little money that came into my hands was ever laid in books" (323). By mimicking styles, rewriting and comparing his work to authors such as Daniel Defoe, Sir Richard Burton, and Cotton Mather, Franklin worked his way up the preverbal success ladder. While still working for his older brother, Franklin started submitting anonymous works to the New England Courant in order to get acquainted with the business. Diligence and hard work eventually paid off for Franklin; thanks to his self-imposed education and trust in his natural abilities, Franklin founded The Pennsylvania...