Book Review: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Book Review: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Ben Franklin came to America as a child with his family due to religious persecution.  He started one of Philadelphia’s first printing presses. Franklin earned money through the government by printing local laws for the people on paper. Ben Franklin warns of people who take advantage of government contracts for personal gain. He warns of people who do not have the common good in mind when making decisions that affect everyone. Ben Franklin had the common good in mind when he made big decisions, and that is how he became wealthy and on the front cover of the 100 dollar bill.

The two main takeaways from the book that helps understand how Ben Franklin became so wealthy and powerful were his daily schedule and values. Ben indicated that if you are consistent with your business schedule then you will find yourself traveling and doing a great deal. Ben tracked his values daily. He would use one piece of graph paper for each of his values and track whether he held up that value for that day.

Ben Franklin’s values that he tracked on a daily basis were:

  1. Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order – Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e. waste nothing.
  6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity – Use not hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or committing the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body clothes or habitation.
  11. Tranquility – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity – Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dulness, weakness or the injury of your own or another’s peace and reputation.
  13. Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Ben Franklin’s schedule was:

5a – 8a: Rise, wash and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day’s business and take resolution of the day; prosecute the present study and breakfast.

8a – noon: Work

noon – 2p: Read or overlook my accounts and dine.

2p – 5p: Work

6p – 9p: Put things in their places.  Supper, music, diversion, or conversation and examination of the day.

10p – 5a: Sleep


Ben Franklin’s mornings consisted of one question, “What good shall I do this day?”  In the evening he would ask himself or share with others the one question, “What good have I done today?” Follow this way of life and find yourself on top of the world!