Benjamin Franklin: An American Life

By Walter Isaacson

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Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father who winks at us. An ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings, he seems made of flesh rather than of marble. In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin seems to turn to us from history's stage with eyes Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father...

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June 2004 by Simon & Schuster

(first published July 1st 2003)

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Quotes From "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life"

"He wished to please everybody," Franklin later said of Keith, "and having little to give, he gave expectations."
"Another time, he was playing [chess] with his equal, the Duchess of Bourbon, who made a move that inadvertently exposed her king. Ignoring the rules of the game, he promptly captured it. "Ah," said the duchess, "we do not take Kings so." Replied Franklin in a famous quip: "We do in America."
"Compromisers may not make great heroes, but they do make democracies."
"At the official signing of the parchment copy on August 2, John Hancock, the president of the Congress, penned his name with his famous flourish. "There must be no pulling different ways," he declared. "We must all hang together." According to the early American historian Jared Sparks, Franklin replied, "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately."
"Wentworth arrived in Paris in mid-December, just as the Americans were meeting with Vergennes, and sent a missive worthy of a British spy: a gentleman who wished to meet him, it said, could be found the next morning in a coach at a specified place on the road to Passy, or later at an exhibition in the Luxembourg Gallery, or at the public baths on the Seine, where Deane would find a note giving the room number to use. Deane sent a reply worthy of an American: he would be in his office, where he would be happy to see anyone who wanted to come by."
"When nature gave us tears, she gave us leave to weep."

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