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From Boyhood to Manhood|
by Thayer, William M.
|The life of Benjamin Franklin is stranger than fiction. Its realities
surpass the idealities of novelists. Imagination would scarcely venture
to portray such victories over poverty, obscurity, difficulties, and
hardships. The tact, application, perseverance, and industry, that he
brought to his life-work, make him an example for all time. He met with
defeats; but they inspired him to manlier efforts. His successes
increased his desire for something higher and nobler. He was satisfied
only with going up still higher. He believed that "one to-day is
worth two to-morrows"; and he acted accordingly, with the candle-shop
and printing office for his school-room, and Observation for his
teacher. His career furnishes one of the noblest examples of success
for the young of both sexes to study. We offer his life as one of the
brightest and best in American history to inspire young hearts with
The first and principal source of material for this book was Franklin's
"Autobiography." No other authority, or treasure of material, can take
the place of that. Biographies by Sparks, Sargent, Abbott, and Parton
have freely consulted together with "Franklin in France," and various
eulogies and essays upon his life and character.
That Franklin was the real father of the American Union, is the view
which the author of this biography presents. It is the view of
Bancroft, as follows:--
"Not half of Franklin's merits have been told. He was the true father
of the American Union. It was he who went forth to lay the foundation
of that great design at Albany; and in New York he lifted up his voice.
Here among us he appeared as the apostle of the Union. It was Franklin
who suggested the Congress of 1774; and but for his wisdom, and the
confidence that wisdom inspired, it is a matter of doubt whether that
Congress would have taken effect. It was Franklin who suggested the
bond of the Union which binds these States from Florida to Maine.
Franklin was the greatest diplomatist of the eighteenth century. He
never spoke a word too soon; he never spoke a word too much; he never
failed to speak the right word at the right season."
The closing years of Franklin's life were so identified with the Union
of the States, and the election and inauguration of Washington as the
first President, that his biography becomes a fitting companion to the
WHITE HOUSE SERIES.