Letter from Mr Abel James

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Ok, I understand that the letter from Benjamin Vaughan was intended to convince Benjamin Franklin to collect and publish his letters in an autobiography, but I did not entirely catch the meaning of the letter from Abel James, or the connection between the two letters. Were they simply separate letters received by Ben F. or did he receive the first, show it to Mr. Vaughan, and then receieve the letter from him?

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2000


I think the purpose of Mr. Vaughn's letter was to encourage B. Franklin to finish what he had started. Somehow Vaughn had recieved part one of this book which told about Franklin's family and his early life up to the point of his finding a wife. After reading this part, Vaughn wrote the letter probably to encourage Franklin to continue where he had left off and finish the story ending at what was then the present. His reason for this encouragement was that he believed that it would be beneficial to the youth to read about Franklin's life. He also reasoned that because Franklin was so famous that people would be very interested about his life.

-- Anonymous, January 19, 2000

I think that the letter from Abel James gives Franklin the motivation to continue his autobiography by showing Franklin that the events of his life can entertain as well as teach the youth of America. James sees a quality in Franklin's writings of his own life that he feels will lead "millions" of young people to strive to obtain the early American dream. He feels that this will in turn strengthen America as a whole. It seems to me that not only the letter from James, but also Part 1 from Franklin's autobiography was shown to Vaughn who in turn happened to write a letter to Franklin in an attempt to encourage him to continue his autobiography. Vaughn, however, gives Franklin many more reasons to continue the journal. One of those reasons that stands out in my mind as I think it did in Franklin's was the fact that if Franklin did not finish the autobiography, someone else would give their own account of Franklins life, considering the prominent role Franklin had in early America. Franklin didn't want his life to be reported inaccurately, so he had to finish it. These two letters must have had great influence on Franklin for him to have published them right along with his autobiography, especially at the beginning of Part Two.

-- Anonymous, January 23, 2000

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