Benjamin Franklin: The New American Analysis

Milton Meltzer

Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Benjamin Franklin: The New American, Milton Meltzer provides a mosaic of Franklin’s life and deeds. Opening with Franklin’s boyhood, continuing with his adult years, and ending with his death at the age of eighty-four, the book is organized chronologically. This chronological order, however, is interrupted with chapters related to individual areas of Franklin’s interests and accomplishments. To address each of these areas adequately, the activities and events leading up to the eventual successes are recounted. Meltzer focuses on three strands in Franklin’s life: the self-made man, the complete man of diversified talents, and the man of science.

In narrative form, Meltzer develops these three strands beginning with young Franklin in Boston. Although he was not the best of students and his father had difficulty settling the boy into a trade, Franklin started a self-improvement program and showed evidence of his inventive mind. As a last resort, he was indentured to his half-brother, a printer. Franklin liked printing, but he was not content with being an apprentice and found a way to be free of the contract. Seeking work as a printer, the seventeen-year-old Franklin arrived in Philadelphia with only one Dutch dollar in his pocket. While working for others, he met the governor, who promised funds for Franklin’s own printing equipment. On the basis of that promise, a rather gullible Franklin sailed to England to purchase the presses....

(The entire section is 457 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

America was trembling on the eve of a tremendous upheaval; it was an exciting, turbulent era. There were Indian uprisings, and Pennsylvania,...

(The entire section is 160 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Meltzer has a straightforward, unembellished writing style that makes Benjamin Franklin easy to read, while vividly portraying...

(The entire section is 61 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Meltzer was a teenager when the Great Depression struck America. He saw firsthand the terrible toll the tragedy took on human dignity and...

(The entire section is 239 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Like many of the colonists, Franklin was a master of many trades. He was a businessman, statesman, scientist, and writer—so were Thomas...

(The entire section is 261 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. By today's standards, Franklin had little education, yet he was a well-educated and wise man. What are the differences between education,...

(The entire section is 180 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Meltzer has written three other titles dealing with early American life, George Washington and the Birth of Our Nation (1986), The...

(The entire section is 118 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography and Other Writing. Edited by Kenneth Silverman. New York: Penguin, 1986. Pages could be filled...

(The entire section is 148 words.)