The Portable Benjamin Franklin
An inclusive anthology of writings by the celebrated American stateman, journalist, scientist, and entrepreneur contains nearly one hundred of his major writings, including political tracts, essays, journalism, letters, scientific observations, personal and social improvement guidelines, literary musings, and more. Original.
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What is Franklin trying to share with his son about his view on his life?
Below is a picture of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, cousin of Queen Elizabeth of England. Elizabeth imprisoned her for eighteen years before beheading her for treason. Why would the Franklin family be in danger during her reign? (This annotation contains an image)
What does this adventure illustrate about Franklin's nature?
Why does Franklin take such pleasure in watching laborers?
How does this recollection of how Franklin practiced improving his writing show us his character?
Why is Franklin going into so much detail about his education?
Why do the authorities and leaders take offense to Franklin's work on the New England Courant during his brother's incarceration?
What is ironic about the conversation Franklin observes between the two printers?
How is Franklin's point of view and purpose for describing his return to Boston possibly tainted by his own prejudices?
Why does Franklin's father agree to allow Franklin to return to Philadelphia?
Why isn't Franklin engaged to Miss Reed?
What scheme do Franklin and his friend discover? Why is it such an important remembrance?
This is one of several times he mentions bookstores and libraries. Why are books, bookstores, and libraries so important to Franklin?
Franklin speaks poorly of the men who indulge in beer as a bad habit and one that keeps them poor; however, he previously mentioned that he could not keep enough money for passage home. Why?
Why does Franklin wish to cut ties with Keimer?
What is Keimer's plan for Franklin?
How does Franklin best Keimer in the printing business?
How does Franklin best his rival Keimer?
Once his partnership is dissolved, how does Franklin fair in the Printing trade?
What lesson does Franklin learn from Bradford and consciously chooses to not do himself when he is put in Bradford's position?
Why is publishing work on self-education important?
The Members of the Junto are a group of men from diverse backgrounds and careers that shared a passion for reading. Franklin founded the group in an effort to increase their passion and network. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is a public library so important to Franklin?
Why does Franklin create this list of virtues?
How is Franklin's pursuit of and story of these virtues his way of worshipping God's will?
What is Franklin determined to do in his study of virtue?
Which virtue does Franklin admit he struggles with and never succeeds in accomplishing?
What does Franklin endeavor to do through Poor Richard's Almanac?
What is Franklin's regret in not immunizing his son?
Why does Franklin support Mr. Whitefield?
How is Franklin's advocation of creating a militia for defense purposes received?
Why is Franklin able to exert so much energy and time to the building of the Academy?
What is Franklin's opinion of Indians from this experience?
Why does Franklin place value on street-sweeping?
What is Franklin saying about social change?
Why does Franklin believe England sent General Braddock and his regiments to America instead of building native forces?
Which argument is Franklin using to persuade people to do their duty for the soldiers?
Why are there so many casualties in this battle?
Why are the Indians able to attack?
How does Franklin's foundation of industriousness gain strength in this experience?
This account from Franklin of their reaction to Braddock's defeat shows a very different point of view than the attached account below of the actual battle. How would Washington's reaction differ from Franklin's? (This annotation contains a link)
Why is this experience with Lord Loudon and raising the money for the King's service important for Franklin to mention?
Why is the situation with paying those who gave their resources so frustrating to Franklin? How does he feel his reputation is tied to this situation?
How does the highlighted passage show the social discourse between the British and America that leads to the political discourse and war?
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Which literary device does Franklin use in this highlighted passage?
What happens to Silence Dogood after two years in America?
How is Benjamin Franklin attempting to sound humble in this highlighted phrase?
Why would Silence Dogood's union with the Reverend bring discourse to the Countryside?
Below is a video of personification. How does Silence Dogood use personification to illustrate her convictions in this highlighted passage? (This annotation contains a video)
How does Silence Dogood's personification of education expose her feelings of formal education?
Satire is a literary device that uses a combination of sarcasm, irony, and other tools to ridicule others. In this letter, Franklin created a satirical funeral elegy. The link below explores the reasoning for satire more in depth. As you are reading, think about what Franklin, through Silence Dogood, is satirizing. (This annotation contains a link)
What point is Silence Dogood trying to make about funeral elegies?
What is Franklin actually doing, instead of apologizing?
What emotion is Franklin predominantly feeling, according to the tone of this response?
What is Franklin stating in using the fable?
What type of woman has he married?
Anthony's father-in-law refused to pay the dowry he owed. How is Anthony Afterwit enacting revenge on his wife's father?
How is Franklin attempting to challenge the social morés of the time?
By using this wordplay, Franklin shows his disdain for borrowing money and living beyond one's means.
What is Franklin saying about diseases and the state of affairs for the year?
Watch the video below on literal versus figurative language. How do we know that Franklin is using figurative language in his passage about building a sun dial? (This annotation contains a video)
How is the town elder quoting from Poor Richard a balm to the ego of Franklin?
What is the point of this elder's speech about the taxes?
What does wealth breed?
What else does the sin of wealth breed among people? How does this lead to further destruction of humanity?
What is the purpose of this "society" Franklin proposes?
Why is this society project important to the whole of the population?
Read this article on American Education and Benjamin Franklin's role in it. Think about the changes in thoughts from the old ways to new while reading this proposal. (This annotation contains a link)
What does Franklin hope to accomplish by opening an academy in America?
Universal History is a reference to a 64 volume work published from 1747-1768 by various European authors. What is Franklin's purpose in referencing this work in connection to an American Academy? (This annotation contains an image)
What connection do we have as readers to what Franklin is suggesting Mary Stevens do as she reads?
While Franklin shares his distaste for insects, what does he admire about them?
Why are humans the superior species, according to Franklin?
Watch the video on tone and mood. What is the tone of this letter and what mood does it produce? (This annotation contains a video)
What is Franklin's belief about giving others too much kindness?
Why should a person learn to trust the water instead of fear it?
Why does Franklin value swimming?
What are the only two types of people?
Watch the video on symbolism. What is the symbolism in the story of a friend with the good leg and bad leg? (This annotation contains a video)
According to Franklin, what happens when a person eats full meals?
What is the solution to restless sleeping?
Why would a person benefit from having two beds to sleep in?
In this letter, Franklin claims he is retiring from public life; he will not accept a position in the Assembly. However, this was written in 1748, and we know that Franklin becomes a pivotal role in the Revolution and Constitutional Congress. How does this letter show an entirely different view of Franklin than those events show?
In this highlighted passage, Franklin mentions Governor Shirley and his high esteem for the Governor. Attached is a letter from Franklin to Governer Shirley. Read the letter and focus on Franklin's word choice. How can you see the esteem Franklin has for the Governor mentioned here in the letter he writes? (This annotation contains a link)
Why has Will become productive in business?
The next two letters are to Franklin's wife, Deborah Reed Franklin, pictured below. How does the tone change in the letters to her in comparison to his colleagues and friends? (This annotation contains an image)
In previous writings, Franklin has mentioned that he would rather be industrious than rich. How does this letter in which he describes great purchases change your perspective on his statement?
What is Franklin's plan for retirement?
What type of figurative language is Franklin using to emphasize the point that all people have a right to their own opinion?
At this point in Franklin's life, what are his feelings toward England and America?
How does bequeathing large sums of money to education and churches sustain Franklin's value on education as he has mentioned in previous writings?
Why does Franklin offer one thousand pounds sterling for young businessmen?
The bulk of Franklin's estate goes to public services and institutions. What motivates him to do this?
Why does Franklin include directions on how not to electrocute yourself?
Below is a book published by Franklin where he compiled several conclusions. How is sharing these experiments with the English benefitting his own work? (This annotation contains an image)
What happens to Franklin in the highlighted passage?
Below is a depiction of the kite experiment. How does the depiction differ from the experiment Franklin is talking about? (This annotation contains an image)
What weather phenomenon is Franklin observing?
What do we call the experiment Franklin is performing?
Below is the Franklin Stove. This is what Franklin alludes to in this letter. Why does Franklin find it a valuable machine? (This annotation contains an image)
Below is a picture of Franklin's lightning rod. For what purpose does Franklin build this invention? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Franklin lamenting about human nature in comparison to scientific nature?
This is an artist depiction of the first manned hot air balloon attempt in 1783. How is Franklin's description is different? (This annotation contains an image)
What is Frankin's opinion of doctors who prescribe drugs as a cure-all?
What is the purpose of the simile Franklin shares of the proud young girl?
Below is the speech Franklin gave at the Constitutional Convention as a means to convince the assembly to vote for the Constitution. Read it, then reread the highlighted passage. Although Franklin admits that there may be flaws in the Constitution, he is seen here defending the Constitution. Why? (This annotation contains a link)
What is the purpose of this new invention?
Why is Franklin consulting about lead poisoning? What does this say of his reputation?
Parts 1 and 2 Quiz
After reading Franklin's letter on England shipping their convicts to America, what is his opinion of this practice?
How does Franklin use verbal irony in regards to England's response about criminals being shipped to America? (This annotation contains a video)
What emotion is Franklin evoking through his use of verbal irony?
What is Franklin's purpose in writing this article?
Polypus is another term for creatures like the octopus. What point is Franklin making about America self-regulating manufacturing instead of being controlled by Britain by using this analogy? (This annotation contains an image)
The war Franklin is speaking about is the French-Indian War. Read the short article on the war. Then, reflect on Franklin's article and why he is ardently arguing his opinion. (This annotation contains a link)
What argument is Franklin making about representation from people who live in America rather than counsellors and governors from Britain?
What is Franklin's principle argument?
How is Franklin using ethos, pathos, and logos in his argument about adequate representation in Parliament?
In previous sections, Franklin's tone toward Collinson have been congenial. What is the tone of this letter?
What argument does Franklin make against the current philosophy in farming and feeding the poor?
How does Franklin feel about easing the poor's situation instead of increasing their difficulty?
Is Franklin being sarcastic, or is he being honest in his address to the minister?
What is Franklin's tone here? Cite evidence from the text in your answer.
In this letter, Franklin uses hyperbole liberally. What is his purpose in doing this? (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Germany taxing all British ships and commerce?
How is Franklin trying to draw English support for America's plight by changing the countries and their demands?
In this highlighted passage, Franklin alludes to a difference in opinion between William and himself. Franklin is firmly in the house of independence. What does that mean William supports?
Again, in previous chapters, Franklin spoke kindly and with affection towards Strahan. How has politics changed this relationship?
Who is the "she" Franklin speaks of in this personification?
What is Franklin stating America's intentions are?
How is Franklin reiterating what they wrote in the Declaration of Independence in this letter? (This annotation contains a link)
Why is Franklin writing this letter?
Why should soldiers fight?
Why is Franklin being harrassed?
From Franklin's tone, what can we assume his feelings toward De Wessenstein and his proposals are?
What is Franklin insinuating about the English when he uses phrasing like this highlighted passage?
How is Franklin using the comparison of Job to the English courtiers and men?
How does Franklin feel about massacres of Indians?
If the Lion is England, and the dogs America, who is the Horse?
Why does Franklin admit that he hopes one day to be on friendly terms with England again?
What is Franklin's purpose in this letter?
What is Franklin trying to say to the English about America?
What are America's strong points?
Who succeeds in America?
Why is Franklin sorry he was born too early?
What is Franklin's opposition to bequeathing greatness to heirs?
Why does Franklin believe the turkey should be America's national symbol?
What is Franklin's main concern regarding salaries in the Executive Branch?
Why is Franklin supporting the Constitution, even though he disagrees with parts of it?
Why is Franklin upset with American papers? What impression are they giving Europe?
Franklin is staunchly opposed to slavery. What is one issue that Franklin specifically mentions slavery can lead to?
What was another goal of Franklin's regarding slavery and free men?
What is Franklin's argument here about slavery?
Why does Franklin think God permits evil?
What is Franklin's argument about human choice in this highlighted passage?
Why are pleasure and pain essential for God's creatures?
Why must pleasure and pain coexist in our lives?
Why is the soul unimportant when looking at all things related to God and our lives?
Franklin acknowledges he is causing his parents concern. Why can he not change?
How does Franklin's philosophy of paying it forward come through not just in this letter, but in his actions (such as his last will and testament)?
What are Franklin's beliefs regarding heaven?
Below is a picture of Cotton Mather, the author of Essays to do Good. Mather is most known in connection with the Salem Witch Trials. He was a devout Puritan. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Franklin stay in France?
In this highlighted passage, Franklin upholds his belief in God. What is unusual about his religious leanings?
Parts 3 and 4 Quiz
The Accused passed the first trial, yet that wasn't sufficient enough to prove him innocent. What is Franklin's point about the accusations and trials of witches?
Why is it important to marry young?
Why should the young man search out an older woman for companionship?
Why does Polly Baker ask the court to overlook her crime?
What is her point about the children's father and her situations?
What is Franklin admitting his largest sin is?
The Moulin Joly was a 17th Century water and flour mill. It's most productive years were when Franklin was in Passy. As you are reading, think about why he finds this place and his conversations so important.
What are his friends trying to say about his art?
In Franklin's dream, who has Mr. Helvétius taken as a wife?
Why does Franklin write Elysian Fields? What is his motivation?
What does Franklin see as the whistle?
Why are the skills necessary to win at chess so important?
Franklin is justifying his inactivity by blaming not himself, but on
What would be another term for the role the Gout is playing in this dialogue?
What is Franklin's purpose in writing this dialogue?
What is Franklin suggesting?
Why does Franklin think Daylight Savings should be implemented?
What is frustrating Franklin about the Governor and the Assembly?
What is Franklin's point in emphasizing Hume's essay on America and England's relationship?
Below is a picture of the glass armonica that Franklin invented. As he speaks of it in this letter, he finds it highly beneficial to music. Why is he sharing this invention with the reverend? (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Franklin believe the armonica to be a superior instrument?
What is Franklin's purpose in writing to Noah Webster about his dictionary?
Parts 5 and 6 Quiz