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Deep-Rooted: Benjamin Franklin’s Values and Ours

Deep-Rooted: Benjamin Franklin’s Values and Ours

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An exercise experimenting with personal interpretation and opinion, taken from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

I chose a passage that had meaning to me; described and quoted it.

I then chose 5 words from the paragraph, whose meaning or usage has changed since that time; defined them separately.

I then paraphrased the original quote; described and explained it.

I then rewrote it creatively, choosing to do so in a poem; described and explained it.

Finally, I gave a bit more insight into the chosen passage; but truthfully, I can no longer remember the original question(s) steering that particular insight.
An exercise experimenting with personal interpretation and opinion, taken from the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.

I chose a passage that had meaning to me; described and quoted it.

I then chose 5 words from the paragraph, whose meaning or usage has changed since that time; defined them separately.

I then paraphrased the original quote; described and explained it.

I then rewrote it creatively, choosing to do so in a poem; described and explained it.

Finally, I gave a bit more insight into the chosen passage; but truthfully, I can no longer remember the original question(s) steering that particular insight.

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Published by: Mendy on Jul 24, 2009
Direitos Autorais:Attribution No Derivatives

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History 102-03 Second Short Paper: Franklin’s Values and Ours

DEEP-ROOTED By Melinda S. Wrocklage University of Louisville

March 23, 2004

DEEP-ROOTED Out of Franklin’s autobiography, I chose a single sentence from the paragraph in which he explained about setting up a Journeyman into his own Printing-House, paying 1/3rd of the expense and due to receive 1/3rd of the profits for a set amount of time. This particular Journeyman was not an accomplished bookkeeper; he seldom paid Franklin his due of the profits, nor did he provide a clear statement of the partnership or even keep an up-to-date ledger. In the sentence I chose, Franklin explains that the man’s widow very competently continued the business, rectifying her late-husband’s short-comings. He went on to explain that he brought this up in his autobiography to advocate that American women should also learn bookkeeping as a part of their education, which has a potentially greater usefulness to them than “Music and Dancing”. (The entire paragraph can be found on page 108.) “On his Decease, the Business was continued by his Widow, who being born & bred in Holland, where as I have been inform’d the Knowledge of Accompts makes a Part of Female Education, she not only sent me as clear a State as she could find of the Transactions past, but continu’d to account with the greatest Regularity & Exactitude every Quarter afterwards; and manag’d the Business with such Success that she not only brought up reputably a Family of Children, but at the Expiration of the Term was able to purchase of me the Printinghouse and establish her Son in it.” (Franklin, The Autobiography, Penguin Books, p. 108) For me to choose “Accompts” and “State” was rather simplistic, since they were most obviously archaic forms of more modern words; but I also chose “Exactitude” and “Regularity” because I do not usually see them used in everyday spoken, or even formally written, English; lastly, I chose “Reputably”, suspecting that the importance on reputation may have diminished since Franklin’s time, which would effect the word’s use and/or meaning. Accompts (verb) – archaic form of ACCOUNT; still occasionally written for the substantive in the sense of money reckoning. (vol. 1, p. 81) Accompts (accounting) (noun) - reckoning of money received and paid - a reckoning as to money, a statement of moneys received and expended, with calculation of the balance; a detailed statement of money due (vol. 1, p. 85)

Melinda S. Wrocklage

Page 2 of 6

7/23/2009

1727 Bless me, what immense sums are at the bottom of the accompt! (Arbuthnot, Hist. John Bull) 1852 Besides writing my lord’s letters, and arranging his accompts for him (Thackery, Estmond) State (statement) (noun) - a detailed enumeration or report of particulars or items; especially a statement of items of cost or outlay, of actual or estimated expenses (vol. 16, p. 555) 1701 I laid before the Speaker the State of what had ben receiv’d and paid towards the building of Greenwich Hospital (Evenlyn, Diary) 1727 A state of the national debt as it stood Dec. 27, 1716 (W. Pultney, title) Exactitude - the quality of being exact; attention to minutiæ, accuracy of detail, precision (vol. 5, p. 482) 1734 There is..in virtue, an exactitude and steadiness or rather a kind of stiffness (Rollin’s Anc. Hist.) 1859 Performing the initial duties to her dead with the awe and exactitude that belong to religious rites (Geo. Eliot, A. Bede) Regularity - the state or character of being regular (vol. 13, p. 523-524) 1728 He must..have had no knowledge of the Regularity of that Life she led in Rome (Eliza Heywood, Mme. De Gomez’s Belle A.) 1856 [He was] present at the services in chapel two or three times a day with unfailing regularity (Froude, Hist. Eng.) Reputably (adverb) - in a reputable or respectable manner (vol. 13, p. 678) 1748 Hers is a protection I could more reputably fly to, than to that of any other person (Richardson, Clarissa)

Melinda S. Wrocklage

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7/23/2009

1860 He had lived comfortably and reputably (Holland, Miss Gilbert) This paraphrase is simply how I might have told this particular story if it had happened to me; perhaps not my spoken English, but at least my written English. After his death, his business was continued by his widow who, born and raised in Holland where I have heard women learn accounting as part of their curriculum, was not only able to send me as accurate of a past statement as possible, but was also able to continue on with methodical precision; not only did she successfully manage the business while raising a family, but was also able to buy the Printing-House from me after our contract expired, setting up her son in the business. In my paraphrase, I made some changes based on my own more modern form of spoken/written English; changing ‘Decease’ to ‘death’, ‘bred’ to ‘raised’, “inform’d” to ‘heard’, ‘Knowledge of Accompts’ to ‘accounting’, ‘Female Education’ to ‘curriculum’, ‘State’ to ‘statement’, ‘Regularity & Exactitude’ to ‘methodical precision’, ‘brought up reputably’ to ‘raising’, ‘purchase’ to ‘buy’, ‘establish’ to ‘setting up’, and ‘Expiration of the Term’ to ‘contract expired’; I also omitted ‘Transactions’, ‘every Quarter afterwards’, and ‘of Children’, feeling they were unnecessary to express the thought. In both my paraphrase and my poem, I did not use the word “reputably” because, as I stated earlier, I suspect that the importance on reputation may have diminished since Franklin’s time, which was an age of collective spirit where a person’s reputation was cherished, determined not just by actions but also by choices in acquaintances, occupation, or even clothing. I will admit that this was a rather long sentence for me to express in a poem; however I believe that I was able to successfully convey Franklin’s thought. Upon his death, his business and obligation his widow maintained, She being from Holland, where an education in bookkeeping was obtained, She gathered past transactions and presented to me a statement with correctness, And thereafter continued with disciplined exactness;

Melinda S. Wrocklage

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7/23/2009

While paying off the debt, her family of children she respectably reared, After buying from me the Printing-House, into that business her son she steered. Franklin quintessentially exemplified the emerging American valuesystem; incorporating European tradition while at the same time breaking with that tradition in many ways. The fundamental principle of his beliefs represented a budding, completely unique American viewpoint. His self-proved ideas that hard work and persistence could achieve unlimited success showed clearly in this passage where he described the possibility that an educated woman would be able to maintain a prosperous business. The Puritan church heavily influenced the ethic system of the colonies; although during Franklin’s lifetime it had lost its stronghold on society. While he disagreed with aspects of the Puritan religion, he followed Puritan tradition in placing much importance on maintaining a decent and honorable lifestyle, as is shown in his list of thirteen virtues. He also placed great significance on hard work and personal responsibility, but strayed from Puritan ideas by stressing equality, free-will, individual accountability, and the importance of self-development through education and the perpetuation of a worthy and moral lifestyle; these beliefs would later be considered the foundation of the American valuesystem. I will admit to being confused…exactly what is present-day American morality? Some countries see us as self-righteously up-tight, while others see us as immorally obscene; but when I look around at my circle of acquaintances (which I will admit is entirely made up of relatives, predominantly in-laws), I see neither self-righteousness nor obscenity. I see average people genuinely caring for their children’s health, welfare, and education, while not overly-interested in politics or religion but still striving to be good people. Perhaps if I went into a business, or even polled the students of this classroom, I might find an entire spectrum of values. When I also look at the teenagers at my children’s school (it is a Kindergarten-through-Twelfth-grade public school, with no uniforms), I see caring students, girls in ankle-length skirts and boys who are respectful to others. Perhaps if I walked into a different school, I would find a different scene. Movies, television shows, and music rarely portray what I experience daily. If the world judges America by these types of media, I can understand my confusion of their differing assessments; with this in mind, I can only come to my own conclusions based on my own experiences.

Melinda S. Wrocklage

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7/23/2009

Franklin’s religious ideas placed all humans on equal ground, perhaps a carry-over of his scientific beliefs of equality as I had stated in my long paper, “[Franklin’s] scientific thinking, based firmly inside of Natural Law, led him to believe in total equality.” Based on his notions of equality, it would not be too difficult to imagine him broaching the area of gender equality; the passage I used is an example that a woman, given the right education, can fulfill the duty of a man, perhaps even better than that man. If he had lived longer, during the time of female suffrage debates in America, he may even have spoken out for the cause. But then again, to Franklin “all Cats are grey [in the dark]” (p. 208), when discussing women young versus old; I suppose he may not have been that progressive in gender-equality thinking as my chosen passage may have suggested. Currently, gender equality is a lawful right; although it is still not practiced in every facet of American life, such as businesses continuing to pay men more than women to do the same job with the same education and experience. I may have placed higher significance to this passage in the context of gender equality than Franklin probably intended. Professor’s Grade and Comment: A+ 97 Thoughtful and informed. But, I would have liked you to do more with two words you see as sufficiently different in an interesting way: “regularity” and “exactitude”.

Melinda S. Wrocklage

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7/23/2009

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