Benjamin Franklin carefully establishes a persona that contains the moral virtues he wishes to embody, but he also takes care to mention some of his flaws so that he can tell the reader how he overcame them. Self-interest and dedication to principles are two key values that Franklin promotes. His religious beliefs were Deist, but he had been raised a Calvinist, and the importance of the individual’s direct relationship with God remained strong in him, even as he belonged to the Society of Friends.
In book II of the Autobiography, Franklin extols the connections between individual responsibility and possibility. Laying out the plan he had developed, including the specific virtues he promotes, he admits that “humility” was the most difficult one for him. While achieving perfection may sound vain, he admits that his desires were not necessarily fulfilled and that the effort itself was most important:
I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to...
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