Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Peter Cartwright

     Similar to Franklin and Venture's works, Cartwright begins his autobiography with a preface explaining why he is writing.  Cartwright believes that he can teach some of the "modern preachers" how to preach better by writing this book.  It has the same air that Venture and Franklin's works have: I have lived a good life and others can learn from me.  Pages two and three detail the childhood of Cartwright and the journey his family took to reach the new land of Kentucky.  He speaks harshly of "the savages" which is understandable since Cartwright is the typical backwoods preacher.  He obviously does not know any other way to refer to them.  As Cartwright grows older, the Methodist religious revival grows and spreads.  Cartwright however does not buy into it in the beginning much to the disappointment of his devout mother.  Cartwright simply does not want to give up his dancing, gambling, and racing.  This part (page five) reminded me a little of the Puritan society simply because both religions were so very strict, uptight, and devout.  However, after a particularly good night of dancing and celebrating, Cartwright feels very guilty and starts to attend religious meetings and revivals.  He cuts off all his old relationships and feels bad for some time until he finally feels like his sins have been forgiven.  This is when he buys into the movement completely. He attends meetings regularly and repeatedly says that the Methodist religion is the best one out there (page seven).  The revival continues to spread and Cartwright eventually becomes a preacher.  It is interesting to me that he approves of the "jerks" and believes they are a sign from God (page 9), but that he doesn't believe in the ones who prophesy about the end times (page ten).  Even though he says he consults his Bible and prays when it comes to these matters, he seems to pick and choose which methods seem to be effective for his congregation.  The whole last part of his writing (pages eleven through thirteen) are perhaps the most interesting to me though.  Cartwright is way ahead of his time when he asserts that slavery is a negative, evil thing for the slaves themselves and also the slaveowners.  He is also futuristic when he says that slavery has the potential to tear apart the country and cause Civil War (page thirteen).

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Venture Smith

     Venture Smith is similar to Benjamin Franklin in many ways.  They both started out with little (Venture practically nothing), but ended their lives with an accomplished spirit and content heart.  Venture has a few important memories from his childhood that make up his character from the early ages of five and six the first one being his mother abandoning him with strangers in a distant land (page 7) and another one being attacked by dogs (page 8).  Being attacked by dogs is possibly a foreshadowing of later events to come (beatings from masters that seem to come out of the blue).  Eventually his father comes and retrieves him from the strangers that have been, in fact, very kind to him and have treated him like their own son (page 7).  The situation he returns home to however is not a good one.  His guardian's homeland is soon attacked by a foreign army and his father, being the kind and generous leader he is, gives them temporary shelter which ultimately leads to their downfall as well (page 10).  This area of his father's character is played out in Venture's life later on when he is taking in fellow servants just to free them from the slavery they are experiencing with their masters (page 27).  Possibly one of his most important childhood memories is watching his father fight for his life and eventually loose the battle (page 10).  From witnessing this act, he learns that his father is by no means a doormat and he admires him for this.  On page 13 he is put on a boat to Rhode Island under the control of Captain Collingwood  and Thomas Mumford.  He is purchased by the steward of the boat Robertson Mumford who gives him the name "Venture".  His birth name was Broteer.  Once he arrives in America he begins his long journey of being a slave.  Because of his cunning skills, and common sense, he is passed from master to master.  Even as a young child he is intelligent (page 14) which is evident in the illustration with the keys.  In the beginning he almost seems to have two different masters much like Franklin did when working at the printers and Venture experiences conflict from this as well (page 15).  Along the way, he marries a fellow servant named Meg and decides to pursue freedom with Heddy and other fellow servants in Mississippi.  His ability to think quickly and make the right decision is evidenced in this adventure (page 17).  He may not have connections with influential people like Franklin did, but he makes up for it in his ability to think quickly an make the right decisions (page 17).  He mirrors his father's character on page 20 when he fights for his life against two other strong men.  He does not seek violence in his life but takes care of himself when it is absolutely necessary.  Hempsted Miner is an interesting character because he helps Venture eventually obtain freedom but he takes advantage of the situation by making him work for ridiculous salaries and time periods (page 22).  Another similarity between Franklin and Venture is frugality which is evidenced on page 25.  When Venture purchases his two sons Solomon and Cuff on Ram-Island on page 26 it is obvious that he is very money conscious but also very focused on reuniting his family.  Towards the end on pages 28-31, Venture starts acquiring money and land and his family is all in the same place at the same time.  It is made obvious that he is content with himself and does not harbor many regrets similar to Franklin.
     Some questions I have include who is the "Almighty protector" he refers to on page 7?  Also, when his father obtains him from his guardian what does he mean by "settling with my guardian for keeping me?" (page 8).
     Venture is the perfect example of the type of person that Franklin referred to in his autobiography and the people described in The Sot Weed Factor.  Venture's writing is very similar to Franklin's in that there is little personal anecdotes written unless they have a meaning hidden that can be useful to others.  This is stated on the third page.  He is someone worth looking up to similar to Franklin.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Beginning with chapter one of the autobiography, Benjamin Franklin makes it very clear that he is writing his story in order to better the lives of others around him.  He makes this very clear in paragraph two.  I found it interesting that in paragraph three Franklin states that he doesn't want to burden others with the recollection of stories like so many elderly people feel entitled to do.  I also really enjoyed his opinions on vanity but wondered what he meant when he said "vanity can sometimes benefit others in their sphere of action?"  It is also important to note that in paragraph four he credits everything good that has happened in his life to God and he has faith that he will continue to bless him to the end of his life.
In the last four paragraphs, it is evident that Franklin is a physically durable and strong person.  Transportation during this time period was evidently hard to come by and very time consuming but Franklin seems to roll with the punches so to speak, and get to Philadelphia with his social connections.  All throughout the last four paragraphs, there are obvious connections to the Sotweed Factor and the fear of social disapproval.  In the second to last paragraph, Franklin specifically mentions to fear of being suspected as a runaway servant.  Also in this paragraph, Dr. Brown is introduced which is important because he has completely different views than Franklin when it comes to religion yet Franklin stayed friends with him until the end of his life.  Franklin is obviously somewhat open-minded and accepting of different views.  People are also very trusting and hospitable which is evident in the third to last paragraph.  At this point I was wondering why he was traveling to Philadelphia but I discovered in the second chapter that he was looking for work and possibly running from something in Boston which is referenced in paragraph eight of chapter two.  In chapter two we also find out that Franklin finds work with two different printers through his connections in society.  He is very critical about Keimer's work (Keimer is one of his bosses) and the way he runs his business.  It is also important to note that families in this time period were loyal to each other (Robert Holmes in paragraph 8) but only when they looked the part (paragraph 1).
Chapter six is different that the other chapters.  The speaker obviously thinks very highly of Franklin and his life.  He thinks that his autobiography will help and influence lots of people especially the youth of the time.  I assume that Benjamin Vaughan is the publisher assigned to Franklin's work?  Vaughan definitely approves of the publishing and thinks that his autobiography is a perfect representation of the times and society as a whole.  He thinks that Franklin will influence in order to make wise men with characteristics that include frugality, diligence, and temperance.  Throughout, he encourages him to be genuine and honest in his writing in order to have a worldly influence through his writing.  It is important to note that books during this time period were hard to come by and were more like stocks in the stock market with investors (Mr. Charles Brockden).  It is obvious through the speaker's respect for religion and virtues, that he wants to obtain the perfect character (The Act of Virtue).  It also important to note that the discussion of pride in the last paragraph of chapter six ties in nicely with Franklin's discussion of vanity in chapter one.