Saturday, June 13, 2009

Censored Book: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin was published in 1791 and was soon the target of censorship. It's been pointed out that at one point in US History, Franklin's works, if sent through the mail, could make the sender liable to prosecution under the Comstock Act, because of their sexual references.

This is ironic because Franklin is "the father of the Post Office".I don't know if anyone ever was charged- but it shows the disturbing power of such laws.

The Autobiography itself has had bits removed from it and was censored by Franklin's own grandson, when he changed some of the saltier language to fit the more prim ideals of the 19th century. One episode that was removed at the time was the story of Franklin's sexual advance towards James Ralph's girlfriend in London.

Besides this, Franklin's other works are even "dirtier". My favorite is "Advice to a Young Man on the Choice of His Mistress" a letter about why young men should prefer older women to young women. "Regarding what is below the Girdle, it is impossible of two Women to tell an old one from a young one,"Franklin writes. "And as in the dark all Cats are grey, the Pleasure of corporal Enjoyment with an old Woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement."

In his essay "To the Royal Academy at Brussels", he talks about farting.

Ben Franklin is one of my favorite historical figures. He was a Renaissance Man, a brilliant thinker, an eloquent speaker, a passionate advocate of learning & knowledge and a champion for democracy in reading.

And most importantly, he is credited with creating the first public lending library in the US. For this, he should be Sainted.

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