Weeks 4-5: Two Men of the American Renaissance — Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and Venture Smith (1729-1805)


For the upcoming week, we move away from the religious founders and adventurers that first settled on Native American lands to consider the parallel lives of the famed “Founding Father” Benjamin Franklin and the equally impressive (though almost completely unknown) Venture Smith, an enslaved African who freed himself and his family to achieve his own version of  “the American dream” by owning a large stretch of land along the Connecticut River.

View: Franklin Documentary  

As this video aims to show, Franklin was a product of the Enlightenment, a period that encouraged intellectual freedom, religious tolerance, and rational thought (versus unthinking dogmatism). Enlightenment thinkers trusted in science and progressive ideals to help humans reach their fullest potential.

Read: the following chapters from Franklin’s Autobiography (written in 1790).  

Chapter II: Beginning Life as a Printer

Chapter III: Arrival in Philadelphia

Chapter IX: Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection

Chapter XVIII: Scientific Experiments

Read: Venture Smith, A Narrative of a Native of Africa (1798)

A modern rendition of Venture Smith

Post:  By Monday, September 25, discuss one section from either the Smith or Franklin reading that you found particularly interesting.  Alternately, consider how their lives were similar and/or different. Be sure to read what your fellow students post before you. Don’t repeat his or her points but consider extending on them.

Extra Credit:

Read and comment on Franklin’s Petition to Congress in 1790, requesting an end to Slavery: Petition


  1. Sarah Munassar

    Franklin’s Autobiography:

    Benjamin Franklin’s “Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection,” detailed in Chapter IX of his autobiography, offers a captivating insight into his philosophy of self-improvement. He outlines a systematic approach to moral development, emphasizing the cultivation of thirteen virtues like temperance, silence, and sincerity. Franklin’s careful evaluation of himself is what I find most fascinating. He created a chart to measure his commitment to these virtues and record the times he failed. Surprisingly, he made a commitment to regular self-correction, seeking to do better at any virtue he lacked. Franklin’s methodical approach demonstrates his unwavering commitment to personal development. His plan, an early precursor to self-help methodologies, underscores the belief in human agency and the capacity to mold one’s character through purposeful effort. Franklin’s “Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection” serves as a testament to his pragmatic outlook on life and self-betterment, offering inspiration for those seeking to enhance their virtues and lead more virtuous lives.

    Similarities and differences between Smith and Franklin:

    Both Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin, who are depicted in their autobiographical narratives, lived in the American colonies in the 18th century, but as a result of their distinct upbringings, they had very different lifestyles. Both Franklin and Smith were dedicated to improving themselves; Franklin sought moral perfection via the cultivation of virtue, and Smith described his path from slavery to freedom. The differences between Franklin and Smith, an African who was born into a colonial household, were stark: Franklin had access to opportunity and education, whereas Smith was subjected to captivity and the transatlantic slave trade. As Franklin attained freedom and Smith battled slavery, their social standings changed. Franklin covered politics and science in his narrative, but Smith mostly focused on his time spent as a slave and his struggle to gain freedom. These stories shed light on the complex tapestry of American history. Franklin’s narrative exemplifies colonial opportunities, contrasting with Smith’s portrayal of enslaved Africans’ struggles for liberty.


    Benjamin Franklin’s 1790 petition to Congress, presented by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, marked a pivotal moment in early anti-slavery efforts in the United States. It was the first petition of its kind to be delivered to Congress and asked for the abolition of slavery, in line with the libertarian and egalitarian ideals that were the foundations of the American Revolution. Despite being significant historically, the petition encountered fierce resistance in Congress, and the resulting bill did not promote the abolitionist cause. This highlighted the significant difficulties in eliminating slavery in a country that still tolerates the practice despite being established on freedom values. Franklin’s involvement in the petition showcased his unwavering commitment to freedom and justice. While the immediate impact of the petition was limited, it represented a critical step in the ongoing struggle for emancipation and the recognition of the inherent rights of all, regardless of race or background.

  2. Mariam Otero

    Venture Smith:

    “I was bought on board by one Robertson Mumford, steward of said vessel, for four gallons of rum, and a piece of calico, and called VENTURE, on account of his having purchased me with his own private venture. Thus I came by my name.” This part painted a heartbreaking picture of how slavery aimed to destroy slaves humanity, culture, and autonomy. The fact that Venture was purchased for just “four gallons of rum and a piece of calico” reflects how little slaves were valued as people. He was treated as an object to be bought and sold, not a human being. Changing Venture’s name, the one given to him by his father, was especially degrading. Our names are deeply connected to our identity, and taking away his name was likely an attempt to sever his ties to his past. This renaming robbed Venture of his individuality and history, sending the message that his life and connections before slavery were considered meaningless.



    Benjamin Franklin’s 1790 petition presented by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society to Congress, is a crucial early document in the fight against slavery in America. It makes strong moral, religious, and political arguments against slavery, connecting them to the principles of liberty and equality in America’s founding documents. The petition urged Congress to recognize its duty to promote the well-being and freedom of all citizens, pointing out the stark contrast between freedom and slavery. Despite facing initial resistance, this document played a vital role in eventually ending slavery in the United States, leaving a lasting impact on the nation’s history and its ongoing pursuit of justice and equality.

  3. Jessica GP

    Venture Smith, A narrative of a native of Africa:

    On pages 18-19, Smith’s wife and himself experience a series of events involving their masters. On one occasion Smith’s wife got into conflict with his mistress. Despite her belief that she did nothing wrong, he tells his wife to apologize to the mistress. He defends his wife by intervening and taking the assault that was directed at his wife. The mistress then communicates the incident to the master who seems to pay no attention to this incident. Days pass and while doing his daily tasks Smith is assaulted by his master who hits Smith on the head violently leaving him with a visible scar. He then goes to the “neighboring Justice of the Peace”, a local legal authority, to complain about his master’s abuse. Unless he abuses him again, they recommend that he live contentedly with his master. As I read this passage, I was reminded of the harsh and degrading treatment slaves endured during this period in history and the resilience and resistance shown by some slaves in response to it. A cycle of mistreatment that Smith endured while a slave is also revealed. Furthermore, Smith’s commitment to standing up to abuse is shown in this passage, even if it means going to legal channels. In addition, although slaves had access to “help,” they did little to help them even though they had access to such places. 

    Franklin’s Petition to Congress :

    This document is a plea or statement made by the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery during the late 18th century. The society pleaded to advocate for the abolition of slavery as well as better the life quality of the enslaved and give them freedom. While reading this document two key points stood up to me. First, the alignment with fundamental American core values both religious and political. It instance of the Christian belief that all human beings are equally worthy and the political system of belief of America, emphasizing that the principles of liberty and equality should apply to everyone, regardless of their race or color. In this alignment, this powerful moral argument highlights the contradiction of America as a nation that was founded on freedom yet it was allowing the enslavement of a portion of its population. Secondly, this document calls for government action. Emphasizing that slavery is an insult to the principles of justice and mercy and calling for government officials to use their power to discourage the buying and selling of humans. The major influence of the abolitionist movement can be underlined as well as the calls for practical government action to address the injustice of slavery making this a critical period in the fight for freedom and civil rights in American history. 

  4. Jimmy

    Franklin’s Autobiography

    One section that I found particularly interesting was chapter 3 titled “Arrival in Philadelphia”. In this chapter, Franklin recounts his arrival in Philidelphia. He was a young and poor immigrant who had just arrived by boat with little to no belongings to his name. The reason this chapter stuck out to me was because it really emphasizes Franklin’s determination and really showed the type of man he was. Once Franklin arrived in the new land, he immediately sought employment. He was determined to be in a better position. He did not sit around and expect a handout nor did he use his immigration status as an excuse to be lazy. Although this is just one example, it is clear that Franklin’s quest for self-improvement was imminent as he was always trying to strive for better. Not just to have more money, but to be a better writer, to further his education, and to be a better man.

    Similarities and Differences between Franklin and Smith

    When taking a look at both Benjamin Franklin and Venture Smith, you start to notice a lot of differences and similarities between them. Franklin was born into freedom and had a pretty good upbringing. He was privileged as an White-American. On the other hand, Smith was an African who was captured and sold into slavery. Franklin was an apprentice who later became a prominent figure in American History. Smith’s life was centered around his quest for freedom and his fight against enslavement. Both were different because they were not given the same opportunities. Although both were not given the same opportunities in their early stages of life, Franklin and Smith’s determination and desire for self-improvement changed their lives for the better. Franklin, a new immigrant in Philadelphia with nothing to his name, and Smith’s quest for freedom as a slave can both be seen as acts of self-betterment. Something that Franklin emphasized in his autobiography. Another similarity would be their impact on history. Although both did it in their respective fields, Franklin became a founding father and was an inventor. Smith shed light on the true horrors of slavery and the realties that African American slaved endured.

  5. Mumin Khan

    One interesting section of “A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture” by Venture Smith is when he recounts his journey from Africa to America as an enslaved person. In this section, he vividly describes the harrowing experiences of being captured, sold into slavery, and transported across the Atlantic Ocean on a slave ship. This part of the narrative is particularly compelling because it provides a first-hand account of the brutality and dehumanization endured by African people during the transatlantic slave trade. It serves as a powerful reminder of the inhumanity of the system and the resilience of individuals like Venture who, despite unimaginable hardship, managed to forge a life for themselves in a new land. This section highlights the importance of recognizing the historical injustices of slavery and the strength of those who survived it.

    Extra Credit:

    In 1790, Benjamin Franklin, a founding father and prominent figure in American history, submitted a petition to Congress calling for the abolition of slavery. Franklin’s plea reflected the growing moral and ethical concerns about the institution of slavery among Enlightenment thinkers. His petition was a significant early step in the long and contentious journey toward the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States, marking a critical moment when key figures in American history began to confront the deep-rooted issue of human bondage.

  6. Mumin Khan

    Part 2: Forgot to talk about the Similarities and the Differences.

    Similarities: Both individuals wrote autobiographical accounts of their lives. Franklin’s “Autobiography” is a famous work that provides insights into his life, values, and achievements. Similarly, Venture Smith narrated his life story in “A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture,” sharing his experiences as an enslaved person and his journey to freedom.

    Differences: Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was of English descent. In contrast, Venture Smith was born in Africa and forcibly brought to America as an enslaved person. Their different origins had a profound impact on the trajectories of their lives.

  7. Nia

     Venture Smith, A Narrative of a Native of Africa (1798)

    In Venture Smith’s description of the slave ship’s conditions, I found a vivid and graphic description. As he describes the extreme overcrowding, the unbearable heat, and the foul stench in the ship’s hold, he does not hold back. Through this vivid description, the slave trade is conveyed as inhumane. Throughout Venture Smith’s narrative, he describes his life in Africa before being captured and enslaved, providing valuable insight into African culture and customs. Enslaved Africans were forcibly separated from their rich cultural heritage when brought to the Americas as a result of this aspect of the narrative.


    Venture Smith’s narrative contributed to the abolitionist movement and documents African American experience in the 18th century. As a Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin played an important role in drafting the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. His inventions and writings also left a lasting impact on American culture and society.


    Venture Smith was born in Africa and forcibly enslaved as a child, enduring the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. He spent much of his early life as a slave and had to work hard to gain his freedom.

    Benjamin Franklin was born in United States. He came from a working-class family and, although not wealthy, had more opportunities for education and self-improvement than Venture Smith.

  8. Glory Omoruyi

    From Frinklin’s Autobiography, what I founded interest is, In Chapter III, Benjamin Franklin describes his arrival in Philadelphia as a young man with very little money and the famous scene of him eating his first meal in a bakery while holding rolls in his hands. What makes this section particularly interesting is how it portrays Franklin’s determination and resourcefulness. He was a young, penniless immigrant, yet he was unafraid to seek out opportunities and make the most of his situation. His journey to Philadelphia is emblematic of the American Dream, where hard work and ambition could lead to success. It is also relatable to me as an African immigrant who came to the United state for the purpose of achieving my American dream. I may not have the same dreams has Franklin and may not have achieved all that I want to achieve but I can say that I close to achieve all that I ever dreamt of.

    Venture Smith’s narrative, on the other hand, presents a stark contrast to Franklin’s story. Venture Smith was born into slavery in Africa and endured the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. His life was marked by immense hardship and injustice. However, both Franklin and Smith share a common theme of resilience and determination. While their circumstances were vastly different, both men faced challenges and obstacles and demonstrated a strong drive to improve their lives. In all, Chapter III of Franklin’s Autobiography illustrates his determination and resourcefulness as a young immigrant, while Venture Smith’s narrative highlights the resilience of individuals facing profound adversity. Their lives were different in many ways, but both stories speak to the enduring human spirit and the pursuit of a better life. Just like me connecting to Franklin, we both dream of a better life but our stories are different and also is Smith’s story to mine. Venture Smiths and I shared the similarity of being African and not the similarity of slavery. A similarity of Being African and a similarity of a better life.

  9. Luis Delgado

    In chapter 9 of Benjamins Franklin’s autobiography, he lays out an approach what he calls “Moral Perfection.” Franklin in this case, focuses on moral growth, and a focus on the cultivation of thirteen virtues. What I find interesting is Franklin’s meticulous assessment of himself. To track his dedication to these virtues and the times faulted, he made a chart. Unexpectedly, he found the resolve together his sense and adjust his vies properly, attempting to improve at any characteristic of the 13 virtues he lacked. His approach displays his readiness and determination to his personal growth. .

    Franklin and Smith both lived in the colonies at the time. However, Smith was an African so he was born a slave. Because of this the two had very different upbringings and with different upbringing, different philosophies, priorities, and sets of values. However something similar between the both of them is that in their autobiographies, they were both dedicated to improving themselves, but had different way and maybe definitions of what improvement actually meant. While Franklin sought moral perfection with the thirteen virtues as his guideline, Smiths journey to betterment was being free from slavery. The lives between these two are vastly different. Benjamin was born white and a free man, so he naturally had access to privileges such as education. While Smith was born as an African and was enslaved. 

  10. Bai Ngai

    Franklin’s Autobiography:

    Sir William Keith acknowledges Benjamin Franklin through a letter in Chapter 4 of his autobiography, and as a result, Franklin is given permission to start his printing company in Philadelphia. This chapter focuses on Franklin’s inconsistent life journey, from Keith’s recognition to the difficulties that followed Franklin’s future. Financial difficulties forced Franklin to borrow money from a friend, which led to complications, and he struggled with whether or not to help his troubled friend Collins, whose ongoing issues had an impact on both of them. This chapter illustrates the complexity and unpredictability of Franklin’s incredible journey.


    Benjamin Franklin had the determination to improve his life through his difficult journey from the problems around him and eventually, his hard work paid off, starting his printing business. While Venture Smith worked hard to fight against slavery and constantly endured so many problems in doing so.


    Franklin lived his life in freedom and did not struggle with major life problems and situations as Venture Smith. Venture Smith was born in Africa, was captured, and endured slavery which had A LOT of problems.

  11. Roussena Jean Pierre

    I chose to do Venture Smith’s book; A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America. Related by Himself. One intriguing section of Smith narrative that stood out to me was his account of the Middle Passage, the harrowing journey endured by enslaved Africans during the inhumane transatlantic slave trade. Smith vividly recounts the unspeakable horrors he and others faced while packed like cargo in the suffocating and dehumanizing conditions of the slave ship. His memory recollection of the untold suffering, sickness, and horrific death that surrounded him serves as a stark reminder of the brutality of the slave trade.What struck me most was Smith resilience and determination to survive despite such harsh realities and circumstances. His narrative is a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. It also highlights the extent to which enslaved Africans were subjected to physical and psychological trauma. This is evident in his narration ‘’…One of them took me by the arm, and the other by the thigh, and before their master could come and relieve me, they lacerated my flesh to such a degree, that the scars are very visible to the present day…’’ (Page 7).This portrays the callous nature of the colonial master and the emotional turmoil experienced by the slaves. In comparison, Smith's life was quite different from the lives of his fellow students. His journey from Africa to slavery in the American colonies, eventual acquisition of his freedom, and subsequent efforts to secure his family's freedom provide a unique perspective on the complexities of enslaved life and the pursuit of liberty. His story portrays the enduring legacy of African Americans who, like him, fought for their freedom and contributed significantly to the development of the United States.

    Extra Credit

    In February 1790, Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States,submitted a Petition to Congress requesting an end to slavery. This bold act by Franklin reflected the ongoing debate and tension surrounding slavery in the early years of the nation. His petition was a remarkable statement against the ongoing slavery. It emphasized on the glaring contradiction between the principles of liberty and equality upon which the United States was founded and the harsh reality of enslaving a significant portion of the population. It also made remarkable efforts made efforts to integrate the freed slaves into the US society (Archives, 2016). Franklin contended that slavery was not only morally wrong but also unfavorable to the nation unity and progress.

    However, essential to note that Franklin's petition faced significant opposition from Southern states where slavery was highly tied to the economy. The economic interests of slaveholders often dominated moral arguments against slavery. Consequently, Congress did not take any action on Franklin petition which illustrated the political controversies and compromises that preserved slavery in the early years of the republic.

    Franklin petition, though unsuccessful, played a great role in keeping the issue of slavery in the national consciousness. It challenged the moral and political battles that would culminate in the Civil War and the eventual abolition of slavery in the United States. Franklin strong stand against slavery serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice, equality, and the tension between ideals and reality in the nation history.

  12. Akeria Banton

    Franklin’s Autobiography

    What I found particularly interesting about Franklin’s Autobiography is Franklin’s arrival in Philadelphia where seas he had walked there on foot because that I know it was painful and stressful to endure especially not having the resources to help. To add on, another thing I found particularly interesting about the autobiography is Franklin’s dedication and hardships to sought out employment.


    Both Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin have narrations to talk about their life story’s. Both went through hardships.


    Venture smith was a slave who fought hard and was a strong advocate to help put an end to slavery. While Benjamin Franklin had more of a free life and didn’t obtain the struggles like venture smith. Venture smith was born in Africa and Benjamin Franklin was born in the United States.

  13. Fiama

    Venture Smith Autobiography-

    I found many parts of the autobiography interesting but one of the parts that stood out to me the most was when Smith described his father’s death and how kind his father was. “My father told the messenger he would comply rather than that his subjects should be deprived of their rights and privileges, which he was not then in the circumstances to defend from so sudden an invasion.” This quote from Smith shows that although his dad was a prince he wanted to maintain his people’s rights and wanted to stand with his people. But also shows the cruelty of slavery and how the invaders didn’t care about the people they were killing and the families they were destroying. Smith’s autobiography depicts the way invaders took everything away from him and to be able to be free he had to buy it. Smith was bought by people and he worked for a long time but nothing from that work was for him, everything he earned was for his masters.

    Differences and Similarities-

    From the readings, I think Franklin and Smith had very different lives. Franklin was a writer and worked with his brother in a printing shop, which allowed him to discover his passion for writing. Although he wasn’t very wealthy growing up he found ways to read and buy new books. While Smith had to go through a lot of hardships to be able to be free but also suffered through the cruelty of slavery. Smith was not able to be able to find his own passion compared to Franklin. Smith saw his dad be killed from a young age and while growing up, he didn’t get to grieve and live a proper life until he bought his own freedom. Although both had hardships Franklin was a free man and was able to do anything he wanted, which is something Smith didn’t have.


    The petition from Benjamin Franklin to abolish slavery shows the ethical side and how Americans were not following the rules of humanity. The line “All men deserve equal liberty,” was very important because the pledge of allegiance states the same thing. That everyone should have liberty, however through the US not everyone had liberty. Black people were enslaved and forced to work for the benefit of others. America was not allowing everyone to have liberty and that is what Franklin argued. Black people should have liberty and the injustice of slavery should be abolished in all states.

  14. Taylor Edwards


    Upon delving into each chapter, I am immediately captivated by the life and times of Benjamin Franklin. He shares glimpses of his upbringing, noting that he found his early years in school uninteresting and tedious. However, his love for books began to bloom, thanks in part to his apprenticeship as a printer for his brother. It was here that he gained access to a wealth of reading material and discovered his lifelong profession. What’s interesting about Franklin’s journey is how he began submitting anonymous articles to his brother’s newspaper, quickly turning into a well-respected and revered writer. Upon arriving in Philadelphia at the age of 17, Franklin describes the many struggles he faced in the pursuit of making a name for himself. Despite the hardships, he grew to become a notable printer, publisher, writer, while also contributing to various social and philanthropic organizations. Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin shared a strong worth ethic, a talent for entrepreneurship and a commitment to making the world a better place. Some differences between Benjamin Franklin, and venture Smith are. their educational background, how they were raised and their careers while both were successful they still had two different lifestyles. They also had different priorities and approaches. venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin. Lead different lives and experience vastly different challenges and opportunities.

    Compare & Contrast

    Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin were kindred spirits, united by their exceptional work ethic, entrepreneurial acumen, and indefatigable passion for social progress. Nevertheless, they diverged in certain respects, particularly with regard to their educational antecedents, upbringing, and professional trajectories, each pursuing a distinct lifestyle. Their divergent priorities and approaches were further symptomatic of their dissimilar experiences, as the multifarious challenges and opportunities they faced throughout their lives.

    Petition (Extra Credit)

    Benjamin Franklin, presented a petition to Congress in 1790 to end slavery in the United States. This was the first anti-slavery petition to be sent to Congress, and even though it sparked a heated committee hearing and debate in the House of Representatives, it did not result in the necessary action to end slavery. Nonetheless, the significance of the petition cannot be overstated, and it paved the way for future efforts towards the abolition of slavery.

  15. Carolyn

    What I found interesting

    In Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, there’s an interesting part in Chapter IX where he talks about his “Plan for Becoming a Better Person.” In this chapter, Franklin makes a list of thirteen good qualities, like self-control and humility. He also comes up with a way to check how well he’s doing in practicing these qualities. What I like about this part is how seriously Franklin takes the idea of improving himself and how he uses a clear method to do it. It shows that he believed in the importance of getting better personally and thought that people could use common sense and hard work to make themselves and society better.

    Compare and Contrast

    On the other hand, Venture Smith’s story is quite different from Franklin’s. While Franklin had a lot of opportunities as a white man, Venture Smith, who was enslaved and African, had a much tougher time trying to become free. Smith’s story tells us about the very difficult life of enslaved people in America and how hard they worked to achieve their own American dream, which, for Smith, meant getting freedom and owning land. Smith’s story shows us how strong and determined enslaved people were when faced with really tough challenges. This gives us a different view of American life during the same time as Franklin’s experiences.

  16. Rujin Chen

    Venture Smith: This book is very interesting and at the same time very sad. In chapter 3, “I am now sixty nine years old. Though once strait and tall, measuring without shoes six feet one inch and an half, and every way well proportioned, I’m now bowed down with age and hardship.” With his whole life that fighting for freedom and all the hardship (all the losses, suffered by fired, injustice, cruelty) came to a return and he could stay with his love wife and children and grand children together.

    Similarities: both were moving away from the hometown, and both fought for their “freedom” of their life and made a revolution. Difference: Smith were had a struggle life due to born black and went through all the unfairness in his life. Franklin caught the opportunities from the early year of life and made effort to succeed and became the “American” founding father.


    The purpose of Benjamin Franklin in presenting the petition from the Pennsylvania Society to Congress was asking for the abolition of slavery and an end to the slave trade. And in 1780, Pennsylvania became the first state to abolish slavery when it adopted a statute that provided for freedom of every slave born after its enactment.

  17. waleed yahya

    Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin

    In the narratives of Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin, I found a striking similarity in their relentless pursuit of self-improvement and personal growth, despite facing vastly different challenges.

    Venture Smith’s story, in particular, stood out to me because of the section where he sought justice after being brutally assaulted by his master. This event shows his incredible courage and determination to stand up against the oppression of slavery. What’s even more impressive is that he decided to take his case to the local legal authority, even though the odds were stacked against him as an enslaved person. This section of his narrative demonstrates that Smith was not just focused on escaping the physical bonds of slavery; he was also determined to assert his rights and dignity as a human being.

    On the other hand, in Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, I was drawn to his chapter about “Plan for Arriving at Moral Perfection.” Franklin’s meticulous approach to self-improvement fascinated me. He created a list of virtues and worked diligently to cultivate them one by one. This section reveals Franklin’s commitment to personal growth and his belief in the power of rational thought and self-discipline. His pursuit of moral perfection highlights the Enlightenment-era emphasis on intellectual freedom and self-improvement.

    Despite the differences in their life experiences and objectives, both Venture Smith and Benjamin Franklin share a common thread of unwavering determination and resilience. Smith fought for freedom and justice within the confines of a brutal system, while Franklin pursued intellectual and moral freedom through disciplined self-improvement. Their stories remind us that the pursuit of a better life and the desire for freedom have been enduring themes in American history, transcending time and circumstance.

    These men, in their own unique ways, embody the spirit of self-improvement and the pursuit of freedom that have been central to the American experience. Their narratives serve as a testament to the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity, whether that adversity is the brutality of slavery or the pursuit of personal virtue.

    • Mark Noonan

      Very insightful readings of both Franklin and Smith, Waleed. I really like your opening point ” their relentless pursuit of self-improvement and personal growth, despite facing vastly different challenges.” and your discussion of Smith’s legal acumen.

  18. Christina Bethelmy

    Venture Smith:

    “Heddy developed a scheme to get away from his owner about that time. He brought up the idea to me after long contemplation of it. I initially ignored it and chastised Heddy for considering such a hasty undertaking. But when he persuaded and thoroughly charmed me with the idea of being emancipated in this way, I eventually consented to go with him. Then Heddy persuaded two more of his fellow servants to come with us. The Mississippi was the destination we intended to visit.” This section was an intriguing approach for him to go towards his future as a free man. After laboring as a slave for thirteen years, it was depicted as a tragic depiction of how slavery sought to destroy slaves’ humanity, culture, autonomy, and how little slaves were respected as humans. He was considered like a commodity to be bought and sold, rather than as a human being. Venture’s name was altered because his father’s name was demeaning.  He had been deprived of his identity and where he originated from in the past, therefore the plan they are devising to come together and reclaim their freedom and identity is quite bold and powerful. 


    The letter to Congress from Benjamin Franklin in 1970, asking for the end of slavery, reveals how ethical it was and how Americans were not following humanity’s standards. His appeal marked a significant era in American history when key figures in the country began to address the profoundly rooted issue of human enslavement.

  19. Khady ndiaye

    Beginning Life as a Printer 

    This is the section l like from Benjamin Franklin’s reading because  that’s where his work and journey began. Throughout the reading I noticed that he met a lot of people and read a lot of books which he gained more knowledge from. For example, the experience he had with one of his friends, John Collin,when they used to have a disagreement about a topic he used to write down on his side and John’s side which I believe showed his passion in writing. He also used to read a book and take note of the author’s writing strategy and use it in his own writing. And I find that as a useful method in writing. 


    The difference between Smith venture and Benjamin Franklin is that Smith went through slavery, being homeless and his parents being separate and he did not have support like franklin. Franklin was supported by his father and he was working with his brother before he took his own journey. 

  20. Brandon Rios

    While reading the autobiography “Franklin”, I found the level of detail in Benjamin Franklin’s 1790 petition to Congress to be particularly interesting. During this section, Franklin expresses his strong moral disapproval of the institution of slavery, describing it as a “crime”. He draws a distinction between the promotion of liberty and equality and the toleration of the practice of slavery. His words in this section are a reflection of the larger debate on slavery during this period, as well as his personal dedication to the principles of liberty and justice. Franklin’s petition contributes to the historical background of the growing antislavery sentiment in the late eighteenth century, which would ultimately bring about considerable social and political transformation in the United States.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *