The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin HTML version

Part III
["I am now about to write at home, August, 1788, but can not have the help expected
from my papers, many of them being lost in the war. I have, however, found the
[8]This is a marginal memorandum.--B.
HAVING mentioned a great and extensive project which I had conceiv'd, it seems proper
that some account should be here given of that project and its object. Its first rise in my
mind appears in the following little paper, accidentally preserv'd, viz.:
Observations on my reading history, in Library, May 19th, 1731.
"That the great affairs of the world, the wars, revolutions, etc., are carried on and affected
by parties.
"That the view of these parties is their present general interest, or what they take to be
"That the different views of these different parties occasion all confusion.
"That while a party is carrying on a general design, each man has his particular private
interest in view.
"That as soon as a party has gain'd its general point, each member becomes intent upon
his particular interest; which, thwarting others, breaks that party into divisions, and
occasions more confusion.
"That few in public affairs act from a meer view of the good of their country, whatever
they may pretend; and, tho' their actings bring real good to their country, yet men
primarily considered that their own and their country's interest was united, and did not act
from a principle of benevolence.
"That fewer still, in public affairs, act with a view to the good of mankind.
"There seems to me at present to be great occasion for raising a United Party for Virtue,
by forming the virtuous and good men of all nations into a regular body, to be govern'd
by suitable good and wise rules, which good and wise men may probably be more
unanimous in their obedience to, than common people are to common laws.