"The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" is one of the most important and influential works in American history. It tells the story of Franklin's life from his humble beginnings to his emergence as a leading figure in the American colonies. In the process, it creates a portrait of Franklin as the quintessential American. Because of the book, Franklin became a role model for future generations of Americans, who hoped to emulate his rags to riches story. "The Autobiography" has also become one of the central works not just for understanding Franklin but for understanding America. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was a man of many roles-printer, author, philosopher, scientist, inventor, diplomat, and politician to name only a few. He lived a wide and varied life and found himself at the center of virtually every major event involving America during the second half of the eighteenth century. He was so successful as a businessman that he was able to retire at the age of 42. He proved equally adept at science, and his experiments in electricity made him the most famous American in the colonies. Politics and diplomacy occupied him for most of the latter half of his life.