Quotations by:
    Franklin, Benjamin


Leisure is Time for doing something useful; this Leisure the diligent Man will obtain but the lazy Man never.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“The Way to Wealth” (7 Jul 1757)
 
Added on 12-Aug-11 | Last updated 12-Aug-11
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In short, we can judge by nothing but Appearances, and they are very apt to deceive us. Some put on a gay chearful Outside, and appear to the World perfectly at Ease, tho’ even then, some inward Sting, some secret Pain imbitters all their Joys, and makes the Balance even: Others appear continually dejected and full of Sorrow; but even Grief itself is sometimes pleasant, and Tears are not always without their Sweetness: Besides, Some take a Satisfaction in being thought unhappy, (as others take a Pride in being thought humble,) these will paint their Misfortunes to others in the strongest Colours, and leave no Means unus’d to make you think them thoroughly miserable; so great a Pleasure it is to them to be pitied; Others retain the Form and outside Shew of Sorrow, long after the Thing itself, with its Cause, is remov’d from the Mind; it is a Habit they have acquir’d and cannot leave.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity” (1725)
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Added on 11-Aug-15 | Last updated 11-Aug-15
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If all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.

Franklin - If all Printers determined not to print till sure it would offend nobody there would be very little printed - wist.info quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 12-Apr-23 | Last updated 12-Apr-23
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It is as unreasonable in any one Man or Set of Men to expect to be pleas’d with every thing that is printed, as to think that nobody ought to be pleas’d but themselves.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 20-Apr-23 | Last updated 20-Apr-23
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Printers are educated in the Belief, that when Men differ in Opinion, both Sides ought equally to have the Advantage of being heard by the Publick; and that when Truth and Error have fair Play, the former is always an overmatch for the latter: Hence they chearfully serve all contending Writers that pay them well, without regarding on which side they are of the Question in Dispute.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 26-Apr-23 | Last updated 26-Apr-23
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That hence arises the peculiar Unhappiness of that Business, which other Callings are no way liable to; they who follow Printing being scarce able to do any thing in their way of getting a Living, which shall not probably give Offence to some, and perhaps to many; whereas the Smith, the Shoemaker, the Carpenter, or the Man of any other Trade, may work indifferently for People of all Persuasions, without offending any of them: and the Merchant may buy and sell with Jews, Turks, Hereticks, and Infidels of all sorts, and get Money by every one of them, without giving Offence to the most orthodox, of any sort; or suffering the least Censure or Ill-will on the Account from any Man whatever.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 3-May-23 | Last updated 3-May-23
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Being thus continually employ’d in serving all Parties, Printers naturally acquire a vast Unconcernedness as to the right or wrong Opinions contain’d in what they print; regarding it only as the Matter of their daily labour: They print things full of Spleen and Animosity, with the utmost Calmness and Indifference, and without the least Ill-will to the Persons reflected on; who nevertheless unjustly think the Printer as much their Enemy as the Author, and join both together in their Resentment.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 10-May-23 | Last updated 10-May-23
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It is unreasonable to imagine Printers approve of every thing they print, and to censure them on any particular thing accordingly; since in the way of their Business they print such great variety of things opposite and contradictory. It is likewise as unreasonable what some assert, That Printers ought not to print any Thing but what they approve; since if all of that Business should make such a Resolution, and abide by it, an End would thereby be put to Free Writing, and the World would afterwards have nothing to read but what happen’d to be the Opinions of Printers.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 17-May-23 | Last updated 17-May-23
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If all the People of different Opinions in this Province would engage to give me as much for not printing things they don’t like, as I can get by printing them, I should probably live a very easy Life; and if all Printers were every where so dealt by, there would be very little printed.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Apology for Printers,” Philadelphia Gazette (1731-06-10)
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Added on 24-May-23 | Last updated 24-May-23
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I believe long habits of virtue have a sensible effect on the countenance.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Busy-Body Papers,” American Weekly Mercury (18 Feb 1729)
 
Added on 28-Jan-15 | Last updated 28-Jan-15
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You philosophers are sages in your maxims, and fools in your conduct.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Dialogue Between Franklin and the Gout” (22 Oct 1780)
 
Added on 28-May-15 | Last updated 28-May-15
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Morality or Virtue is the end, faith only a Means to obtain that end: And if the end be obtained, it is no matter by what means.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Dialogue Between Two Presbyterians” (1735)
 
Added on 11-Apr-12 | Last updated 21-Oct-13
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The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer (like the cover of an old book, its contents torn out and stripped of its lettering and gilding), lies here, food for worms; but the work shall not be lost, for it will (as he believed) appear once more in a new and more elegant edition, revised and corrected by the author.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Epitaph on Himself” (1778)

Variant words (and format):

The body of
B. Franklin
Printer
Like the cover of an old book,
its contents torn out,
and stripped of its lettering and gilding,
lies here, food for worms.
But the work shall not be wholly lost;
for it will, as he believed, appear once more,
in a new and more perfect edition
corrected and amended
by the Author.

 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 6-Jan-10
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Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us. Its appetite grows keener by indulgence and all we can gratify it with at present serves but the more to inflame its insatiable desires.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“On True Happiness,” The Pennsylvania Gazette (20 Nov 1735)
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Added on 5-Jul-17 | Last updated 5-Jul-17
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Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
“Reply to the Governor,” Pennsylvania Assembly (11 Nov 1755)

Also given as, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (cited Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759))
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Hear reason, or she’ll make you feel her.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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He who multiplies riches multiplies cares.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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If we take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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I haven’t failed, I’ve found ten thousand ways that don’t work.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)

(also attrib. Thomas Edison)
 
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The learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but still ’tis nonsense.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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You may delay, but Time will not.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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We must all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)

Attributed remark at the signing of the Declaration of Independence (4 Jul 1776)
 
Added on 26-Apr-13 | Last updated 26-Apr-13
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Carelessness does more harm than a want of knowledge.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 11-Jun-16 | Last updated 11-Jun-16
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Fake quotes will ruin the Internet.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 3-Aug-20 | Last updated 3-Aug-20
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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Franklin, but not found in his writing (and the word "lunch" dates only back to the 1820s). The phrase is only found in sources dating back to the early 1990s, e.g.,

  • "Democracy is like two wolves and a lamb deciding on what they want for dinner." [Shelby Foote in Ken Burns, Civil War (1990)]
  • "Democracy has been described as four wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch." [Los Angeles Times (25 Nov 1990)]
  • "Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote." [Marvin Simkin, Los Angeles Times (1992)]
  • "Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner." [James Bovard, Lost Rights, "Conclusion" (1994)]
 
Added on 14-Sep-21 | Last updated 14-Sep-21
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So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Autobiography, 1771 (1798)
 
Added on 25-Jan-13 | Last updated 25-Jan-13
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A perfect character might be attended with the inconveniences of being envied and hated; … a benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in contenance.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Autobiography, 1784 (1798)
 
Added on 31-Mar-10 | Last updated 31-Mar-10
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Were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults in the first.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Autobiography, ch. 1
 
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I had been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and tho’ some of the Dogmas of that Persuasion, such as the Eternal Decrees of God, Election, Reprobation, &c. appear’d to me unintelligible, others doubtful, & I early absented myself from the Public Assemblies of the Sect, Sunday being my Studying-Day, I never was without some religious Principles; I never doubted, for instance, the Existence of the Deity, that he made the World, & govern’d it by his Providence; that the most acceptable Service of God was the doing Good to Man; that our Souls are immortal; and that all Crime will be punished & Virtue rewarded either here or hereafter; these I esteem’d the Essentials of every Religion, and being to be found in all the Religions we had in our Country I respected them all, tho’ with different degrees of Respect as I found them more or less mix’d with other Articles which without any Tendency to inspire, promote or confirm Morality, serv’d principally to divide us & make us unfriendly to one another.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Autobiography, Part 2 (1785)
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Added on 19-Nov-20 | Last updated 19-Nov-20
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Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Autobiography, Virtue #7 “Sincerity,” 1784 (1798)
 
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Old Boys have their Playthings as well as young Ones; the Difference is only in the Price.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard Improved, “August” (1752)
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Cf. the contemporary "The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys." See Forbes.
 
Added on 22-Feb-22 | Last updated 22-Feb-22
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Silence is not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Alamanack (Apr 1758)
 
Added on 21-Apr-14 | Last updated 21-Apr-14
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‘Tis easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Alamanack (Oct 1745)
 
Added on 30-Sep-10 | Last updated 30-Sep-10
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Up, Sluggard, and waste not life;
in the grave will be sleeping enough.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Alamanack (Sep 1741)

Repeated as "There will be enough sleeping in the Grave" in "The Way of Wealth" (7 Jul 1756).
 
Added on 17-May-11 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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A good example is the best sermon.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
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It is Ill-manners to silence a fool, and Cruelty to let him go on.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Many a little makes a mickle. Beware of small expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Contentment makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Who has deceived thee so oft as thyself?

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Children and Princes will quarrel for Trifles.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 29-Jun-04 | Last updated 29-Jun-04
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Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.

franklin-slower-in-changing-wist_info-quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack
 
Added on 19-Sep-16 | Last updated 19-Sep-16
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He that can have patience can have what he will.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1736)

Full text.
 
Added on 29-Jun-09 | Last updated 25-Jun-09
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Admiration is the Daughter of Ignorance.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1736)
 
Added on 15-Apr-13 | Last updated 15-Apr-13
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Honest Men often go to Law for their Right; when Wise Men would sit down with the Wrong, supposing the first Loss least. In some Countries the Course of the Courts is so tedious, and the Expence so high, that the Remedy, Justice, is worse than, Injustice, the Disease. In my Travels I once saw a Sign call’d The Two Men at Law; One of them was painted on one Side, in a melancholy Posture, all in Rags, with this Scroll, I have lost my Cause. The other was drawn capering for Joy, on the other Side, with these Words, I have gain’d my Suit; but he was stark naked.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1742)
 
Added on 13-Aug-15 | Last updated 13-Aug-15
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Many a long dispute among Divines may be thus abridg’d, It is so; It is not so. It is so; It is not so.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
    (Source)
 
Added on 19-May-08 | Last updated 8-Dec-21
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A little well-gotten will do us more good,
Than lordships and scepters by Rapine and Blood.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
 
Added on 23-May-08 | Last updated 23-May-08
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How many observe Christ’s Birth-day! How few, his Precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-May-08 | Last updated 21-Dec-21
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The World is full of fools and faint hearts; and yet every one has courage enough to bear the misfortunes, and wisdom enough to manage the Affairs of his neighbour.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)

Full text.

 
Added on 6-Jun-08 | Last updated 6-Jun-08
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Men differ daily, about things which are subject to Sense, is it likely then they should agree about things invisible.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)

Full text.

 
Added on 13-Jun-08 | Last updated 13-Jun-08
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Beware, beware! he’ll cheat ‘ithout scruple, who can without fear.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)
 
Added on 19-Jul-16 | Last updated 19-Jul-16
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Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1744)

From Giovanni Torriano, Italian Proverbs (1666): "Honey catches more flies than vinegar."
 
Added on 12-May-15 | Last updated 12-May-15
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Why then should I give my Readers bad Lines of my own, when good Ones of other People’s are so plenty? ‘Tis methinks a poor Excuse for the bad Entertainment of Guests, that the Food we set before them, tho’ coarse and ordinary, is of one’s own Raising, off one’s own Plantation, &c. when there is Plenty of what is ten times better, to be had in the Market. — On the contrary, I assure ye, my Friends, that I have procur’d the best I could for ye, and much Good may’t do ye.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1747)
    (Source)

On his borrowing of maxims and aphorisms of others for his almanac.
 
Added on 20-Apr-21 | Last updated 20-Apr-21
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He is not well-bred, that cannot bear Ill-Breeding in others.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1748)
 
Added on 19-Feb-16 | Last updated 19-Feb-16
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Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1749)
 
Added on 4-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Jun-15
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It is easier to suppress the first Desire than to satisfy all that follow it.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1751)
    (Source)

Included in his summary piece, "The Way to Wealth" (1757).
 
Added on 29-Sep-09 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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He that is of Opinion Money will do every Thing, may well be suspected of doing every Thing for Money.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1753)

See also Halifax.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Apr-09
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Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.

Franklin - every new year - wist_info quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1755)

More information on this quotation here.
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-Dec-15
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Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1756)
 
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Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Act uprightly, and despise Calumny; Dirt may stick to a Mud Wall, but not to polish’d Marble.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1757)
 
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The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (1758)
 
Added on 14-Jul-15 | Last updated 14-Jul-15
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Thou canst not joke an Enemy into a Friend; but thou may’st a Friend into an Enemy.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1739)
    (Source)
 
Added on 17-Sep-20 | Last updated 17-Sep-20
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Most People return small Favors, acknowledge middling ones, and repay great ones with Ingratitude.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1751)
 
Added on 9-Oct-15 | Last updated 9-Oct-15
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You may delay, but Time will not.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Apr 1758)
 
Added on 19-Aug-09 | Last updated 21-Oct-13
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Observe all men; thy self most.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Aug 1740)
 
Added on 13-Nov-13 | Last updated 13-Nov-13
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If you would keep your Secret from an enemy, tell it not to a friend.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Aug 1741)
 
Added on 13-Sep-13 | Last updated 13-Sep-13
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Genius without education is like silver in the mine.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Aug 1750)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 3-Aug-10
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‘Tis a great Confidence in a Friend to tell him your Faults, greater to tell him his.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Aug 1751)
 
Added on 31-Aug-10 | Last updated 31-Aug-10
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The noblest question in the world is,
What Good may I do in it?

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Dec 1737)
 
Added on 26-Nov-12 | Last updated 26-Nov-12
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Added on 14-Jun-10 | Last updated 21-Apr-22
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Success has ruined many a man.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Dec 1752)
 
Added on 19-Dec-14 | Last updated 19-Dec-14
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Tell me my Faults, and mend your own.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Dec 1756)
 
Added on 7-Apr-10 | Last updated 7-Apr-10
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Setting too good an Example is a Kind of Slander seldom forgiven.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Feb 1753)
 
Added on 15-Feb-10 | Last updated 15-Feb-10
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If you would be loved, love and be lovable.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Feb 1755)

Earlier given, "If you'd be beloved, make yourself amiable." (Nov 1744). See Ovid.
 
Added on 25-Jul-11 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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Who has deceiv’d thee so oft as thy self?

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jan 1738)
 
Added on 3-Dec-13 | Last updated 3-Dec-13
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A Man without a Wife is but half a Man.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jan 1755)
 
Added on 3-Feb-14 | Last updated 3-Feb-14
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Sloth and Silence are a Fool’s Virtues.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1735)
 
Added on 12-Apr-10 | Last updated 12-Apr-10
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Three may keep a Secret if two of them are dead.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1735)
 
Added on 27-Sep-13 | Last updated 27-Sep-13
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Sloth (like Rust) consumes faster than Labor wears:
the used Key is always bright.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1744)
 
Added on 13-May-11 | Last updated 13-May-11
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Anger is never without a Reason,
But seldom with a good One.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1753)
 
Added on 24-Nov-08 | Last updated 24-Nov-08
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Tomorrow, every Fault is to be amended;
but that Tomorrow never comes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1756)
 
Added on 31-Jul-12 | Last updated 31-Jul-12
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Nothing but Money
Is sweeter than Honey.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jun 1735)
 
Added on 6-Jan-12 | Last updated 6-Jan-12
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Good Sense is Thing all need, few have,
and none think they lack.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jun 1746)
 
Added on 8-Apr-09 | Last updated 8-Apr-09
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Mankind are very odd Creatures: One Half censure what they practice, the other half practice what they censure; the rest always say and do as they ought.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jun 1752)
 
Added on 30-Nov-10 | Last updated 30-Nov-10
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Calamity and Prosperity are the Touchstones of Integrity.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Mar 1752)
 
Added on 27-Apr-11 | Last updated 27-Apr-11
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When Reason preaches, if you won’t hear her, she’ll box your Ears.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Mar 1753)
 
Added on 1-Feb-13 | Last updated 1-Feb-13
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Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Mar 1756)
 
Added on 6-Jan-10 | Last updated 6-Jan-10
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Well done is better than well said.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1737)
 
Added on 20-Jun-08 | Last updated 20-Jun-08
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If you’d be not forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1738)
 
Added on 12-Mar-10 | Last updated 12-Mar-10
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If Passion drives, let Reason hold the Reins.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1749)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Mar-13
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The honest Man takes Pains, and then enjoys Pleasures;
the Knave takes Pleasure, and then suffers Pains.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1755)
 
Added on 8-May-15 | Last updated 8-May-15
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Work as if you were to live 100 years; pray as if you were to die tomorrow.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (May 1757)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Jul-21
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None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in error.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1738)
 
Added on 12-Feb-16 | Last updated 12-Feb-16
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A Mob’s a Monster; Heads enough, but no Brains.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1747)
 
Added on 23-Jan-12 | Last updated 23-Jan-12
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Not to oversee Workmen, is to leave them your Purse open.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1751)
    (Source)
 
Added on 23-Sep-21 | Last updated 23-Sep-21
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Diligence overcomes Difficulties; Sloth makes them.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1755)
 
Added on 22-Feb-11 | Last updated 22-Feb-11
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Happiness depends more on the inward Disposition of Mind than on the outward Circumstances.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1757)
 
Added on 19-May-11 | Last updated 19-May-11
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A soft Tongue may strike hard.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1744)
 
Added on 18-Jan-17 | Last updated 18-Jan-17
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Most fools think they are only ignorant.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1748)
 
Added on 27-May-10 | Last updated 27-May-10
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Nine men in ten are suicides.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1749)
 
Added on 7-May-15 | Last updated 7-May-15
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Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made.
What’s a Sun-Dial in the Shade?

franklin-sundial-in-the-shade-wist_info-quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1750)
 
Added on 14-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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Being ignorant is not so much a Shame, as being unwilling to learn.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1755)
 
Added on 22-Mar-11 | Last updated 14-Dec-22
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To serve the Public faithfully, and at the same time please it entirely, is impracticable.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1758)
 
Added on 17-Jul-15 | Last updated 17-Jul-15
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Write Injuries in Dust, Benefits in Marble.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack, “August” (1747)
    (Source)

As with so much else of Franklin's, this phrase is not without earlier forms, e.g.: Thomas More, History of King Richard III (1513):

For men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble; and whosoever does us a good turn, we write it in dust.

Or see Shakespeare, Henry VIII 4.2.45-46 (1613):

Men's evil manners live in brass, their virtues
We write in water.

Variants include "but kindnesses in marble" or "but kindness in marble."

This also shows up as a French saying in various forms:

  • "Ecrivez les injures sur le sable, mais les bienfaits sur le marbre."
  • "Écrivez les injures sur le sable, gravez les bienfaits sur le marbre."
 
Added on 7-Feb-23 | Last updated 7-Feb-23
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In Christmas feasting pray take care;
Let not your table be a Snare;
But with the Poor God’s Bounty share.

franklin-christmas-feasting-wist_info-quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack, December (1748)
    (Source)
 
Added on 23-Dec-16 | Last updated 16-Dec-19
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Strive to be the greatest Man in your Country, and you may be disappointed; Strive to be the best, and you may succeed: He may well win the race that runs by himself.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jan 1747)
    (Source)
 
Added on 29-Oct-20 | Last updated 29-Oct-20
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Who is wise? He that learns from every One. Who is powerful? He that governs his Passions. Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jul 1755)
 
Added on 24-Dec-07 | Last updated 24-Dec-07
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Distrust and caution are the parents of security.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Jun-16 | Last updated 5-Jun-23
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Hunger never saw bad bread.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 10-Apr-23 | Last updated 5-Jun-23
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After 3 days men grow weary,
of a wench, a guest, and weather rainy.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)

See Plautus.
 
Added on 5-Jun-23 | Last updated 5-Jun-23
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The proof of gold is fire, the proof of woman, gold; the proof of man, a woman.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-Jun-23 | Last updated 20-Jun-23
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Mirth pleaseth some, to others ’tis offence,
Some commend plain conceit, some profound sense;
Some wish a witty Jest, some dislike that,
And most would have themselves they know not what.
Then he that would please all, and himself too,
Takes more in hand than he is like to do.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 18-Jul-23 | Last updated 18-Jul-23
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The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.

Franklin - The poor have little, Beggars none, The rich too much, Enough, none - wist.info quote

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)

Repeated in Poor Richards (1740).
 
Added on 25-Jul-23 | Last updated 25-Jul-23
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Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Aug-23 | Last updated 7-Aug-23
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Where bread is wanting, all’s to be sold.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1733)
    (Source)
 
Added on 21-Aug-23 | Last updated 21-Aug-23
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Blame-all and Praise-all are two blockheads.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Oct-23
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Where there’s Marriage without Love, there will be Love without Marriage.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 20-May-08 | Last updated 26-Feb-24
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Take this remark from Richard poor and lame,
Whate’er’s begun in anger ends in shame.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 6-Sep-13 | Last updated 28-Aug-23
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A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 9-Oct-13 | Last updated 8-Apr-24
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Would you persuade, speak of Interest, not of Reason.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 9-Jul-15 | Last updated 13-Feb-24
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There have been as great Souls unknown to fame as any of the most famous.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)

See also Gray, Reade, Ecclesiasticus.
 
Added on 25-Mar-24 | Last updated 25-Mar-24
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He that cannot obey, cannot command.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 23-Oct-23 | Last updated 23-Oct-23
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He that is rich need not live sparingly, and he that can live sparingly need not be rich.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 31-Oct-23 | Last updated 31-Oct-23
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Laws like to Cobwebs catch small Flies,
Great ones break thro’ before your eyes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)

See Swift.
 
Added on 11-Dec-23 | Last updated 11-Dec-23
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Altho’ thy Teacher act not as he preaches,
Yet ne’ertheless, if good, do what he teaches;
Good Counsel, failing Men may give; for why,
He that’s aground knows where the Shoal doth lie.
My old Friend Berryman, oft, when alive,
Taught others Thrift; himself could never thrive:
Thus like the Whetstone, many Men are wont
To sharpen others while themselves are blunt.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 2-Jan-24 | Last updated 2-Jan-24
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From a cross Neighbour, and a sullen Wife,
A pointless Needle, and a broken Knife;
From Suretyship, and from an empty Purse,
A Smoaky Chimney and a jolting Horse;
From a dull Razor, and an aking Head,
From a bad Conscience and a buggy Bed;
A Blow upon the Elbow and the Knee,
From each of these, Good L—d deliver me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 30-Jan-24 | Last updated 30-Jan-24
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Better slip with foot than tongue.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Feb-24 | Last updated 7-Feb-24
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Wedlock, as old Men note, hath likened been,
Unto a publick Crowd or common Rout;
Where those that are without would fain get in,
And those that are within would fain get out.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)

See also Montaigne, Burton, Antrim.
 
Added on 11-Mar-24 | Last updated 11-Mar-24
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He does not possess Wealth, it possesses him.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 19-Mar-24 | Last updated 19-Mar-24
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He that waits upon Fortune, is never sure of a Dinner.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 15-Apr-24 | Last updated 15-Apr-24
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Be temperate in wine, in eating, girls, and sloth;
Or the Gout will seize you and plague you both.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 22-Apr-24 | Last updated 22-Apr-24
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Do good to thy friend to keep him, to thy enemy to gain him.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1734)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jun-23
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Necessity never made a good bargain.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1735 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-May-24
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By diligence and patience, the mouse bit in two the cable.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1735 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 29-Apr-24 | Last updated 29-Apr-24
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A little House well fill’d, a little Field well till’d, and a little Wife well will’d, are great Riches.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Poor Richard (1735 ed.)
    (Source)
 
Added on 9-May-24 | Last updated 9-May-24
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Human Felicity is produc’d not so much by great Pieces of good Fortune that seldom happen, as by little Advantages that occur every day.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
The Autobiography of Ben Franklin (1771-1790)

Full text.
 
Added on 29-Feb-12 | Last updated 29-Feb-12
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How convenient does it prove to be a rational animal, that knows how to find or invent a plausible pretext for whatever it has an inclination so to do.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
The Life of Benjamin Franklin (1791)
    (Source)

Often paraphrased: "Man is a rational animal. He can think up a reason for anything he wants to believe." Sometimes attributed to Anatole France.
 
Added on 20-Mar-15 | Last updated 20-Mar-15
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Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter #8 from “Silence Dogood” (pseud.), in The New-England Courant, Boston (9 Jul 1722)

Inscribed on Cox Corridor II, first floor House corridor, U.S. Capitol.
 
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If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practised it against the Puritans. These found it wrong in the bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves, both here and in New England.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter in The London Packet (3 Jun 1772)
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We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Abbé Morallet (1779)
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Apparent origin of the misquote: "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
 
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When the natural Weakness and Imperfection of Human Understanding is considered, with the unavoidable Influences of Education, Custom, Books and Company, upon our Ways of thinking, I imagine a Man must have a good deal of Vanity who believes, and a good deal of Boldness who affirms, that all the Doctrines he holds, are true; and all he rejects, are false. And perhaps the same may be justly said of every Sect, Church and Society of men when they assume to themselves that Infallibility which they deny to the Popes and Councils.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Abiah Franklin (father) (13 Apr 1738)

Full text.

 
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That it is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer, is a Maxim that has been long and generally approved.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Benjamin Vaughan (14 Mar 1785)
 
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Here is my Creed: I believe in one God, Creator of the Universe. That He governs it by his Providence. That he ought to be worshipped. That the most acceptable Service we can render to him, is doing Good to his other Children. That the Soul of Man is immortal, and will be treated with Justice in another Life respecting its Conduct in this. These I take to be the fundamental Principles of all sound Religion, and I regard them as you do, in whatever Sect I meet with them.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Ezra Stiles (9 Mar 1790)
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As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion as he left them to us, the best the World ever saw, or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupting Changes, and I have with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his Divinity: tho’ it is a Question I do not dogmatise upon, having never studied it, and think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm however in its being believed, if that Belief has the good Consequence as probably it has, of making his Doctrines more respected and better observed, especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the Believers, in his Government of the World, with any particular Marks of his Displeasure.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Ezra Stiles (9 Mar 1790)
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I have ever let others enjoy their religious Sentiments, without reflecting on them for those that appeared to me insupportable and even absurd. All Sects here, and we have a great Variety, have experienced my Good will in assisting them with Subscriptions for building their new Places of Worship, and as I have never opposed any of their Doctrines I hope to go out of the World in Peace with them all.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Ezra Stiles (9 Mar 1790)
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Each party abuses the other; the profane and the infidel believe both sides, and enjoy the fray; the reputation of religion in general suffers, and its enemies are ready to say, not what was said in the primitive times, Behold how these Christians love one another, — but, Mark how these Christians HATE one another! Indeed, when religious people quarrel about religion, or hungry people about their victuals, it looks as if they had not much of either among them.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Jane Mecom (23 Feb 1769)
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On the vociferous denominational debate in America over whether a new bishop should be sent from the Church of England to the Colonies.
 
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Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency, but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy (13 Nov 1789)
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See Bullock.
 
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The Faith you mention has doubtless its use in the World. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavour to lessen it in any Man. But I wish it were more productive of good Works, than I have generally seen it: I mean real good Works, Works of Kindness, Charity, Mercy, and Publick Spirit; not Holiday-keeping, Sermon-Reading or Hearing; performing Church Ceremonies, or making long Prayers, filled with Flatteries and Compliments, despis’d even by wise Men, and much less capable of pleasing the Deity.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Joseph Huey (6 Jun 1753)
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The worship of God is a Duty; the hearing and reading of Sermons may be useful; but, if Men rest in Hearing and Praying, as too many do, it is as if a Tree should Value itself on being water’d and putting forth Leaves, tho’ it never produc’d any Fruit.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Joseph Huey (6 Jun 1753)
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You both seem concern’d lest I have imbib’d some erroneous Opinions. Doubtless I have my Share, and when the natural Weakness and Imperfection of Human Understanding is considered, with the unavoidable Influences of Education, Custom, Books and Company, upon our Ways of thinking, I imagine a Man must have a good deal of Vanity who believes, and a good deal of Boldness who affirms, that all the Doctrines he holds, are true; and all he rejects, are false. And perhaps the same may be justly said of every Sect, Church and Society of men when they assume to themselves that Infallibility which they deny to the Popes and Councils. I think Opinions should be judg’d of by their Influences and Effects; and if a Man holds none that tend to make him less Virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous; which I hope is the Case with me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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His parents.
 
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But since it is no more in a Man’s Power to think than to look like another, methinks all that should be expected from me is to keep my Mind open to Conviction, to hear patiently and examine attentively whatever is offered me for that end; and if after all I continue in the same Errors, I believe your usual Charity will induce you rather to pity and excuse than blame me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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His parents.
 
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I think vital Religion has always suffer’d, when Orthodoxy is more regarded than Virtue. And the Scripture assures me, that at the last Day, we shall not be examin’d what we thought, but what we did; and our Recommendation will not be that we said Lord, Lord, but that we did GOOD to our Fellow Creatures.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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His parents. Franklin cites Matt. 26 in the letter, but it should be Matt. 25:31-46.
 
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From such Considerations as these it follows, that I ought never to be angry with any one for differing in Judgment from me. For how know I but the Point in dispute between us, is one of those Errors that I have embrac’d as Truth. If I am in the Wrong, I should not be displeas’d that another is in the Right. If I am in the Right, ’tis my Happiness; and I should rather pity than blame him who is unfortunately in the Wrong.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Josiah Franklin (Apr 1738) [draft]
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His father.
 
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People who live long, who will drink of the cup of life to the very bottom, must expect to meet with some of the usual dregs.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to M. Le Veillard (15 Apr 1787)
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I have indeed now and then a little compunction in reflecting that I spend time so idly; but another reflection comes to relieve me, whispering, “You know that the soul is immortal; why then should you be such a niggard of a little time, when you have a whole eternity before you?” So, being easily convinced, and, like other reasonable creatures, satisfied with a small reason, when it is in favor of doing what I have a mind to do, I shuffle the cards again, and begin another game.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Mary Hewson (6 May 1786)
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One’s true happiness depends more upon one’s own judgment of one’s self, or a consciousness of rectitude in action and intention, and the approbation of those few, who judge impartially, than upon the applause of the unthinking, undiscerning multitude, who are apt to cry Hosanna today, and tomorrow, Crucify him.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Mrs. Jane Mecom (1 Mar 1766)
 
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When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obligated to call for help of the civil power, it’s a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Richard Price (9 Oct 1780)
 
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All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Robert Morris (25 Dec 1783)
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‘Tis an old Saying, That an Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Samuel Johnson (13 Sep 1750)
 
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For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him. With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. [… T]he Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America […] He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to Sarah Franklin Bache (26 Jan 1784)
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To confirm still more your piety and gratitude to Divine Providence, reflect upon the situation which it has given to the elbow. You see in animals, who are intended to drink the waters that flow upon the earth, that if they have long legs, they have also a long neck, so that they can get at their drink without kneeling down. But man, who was destined to drink wine, is framed in a manner that he may rise the glass to his mouth. If the elbow had been placed nearer the hand, the part in advance would have been too short to bring the glass up to the mouth; and if it had been nearer the shoulder, that part would have been so long that when it attempted to carry the wine to the mouth it would have overshot the mark, and gone beyond the head; thus, either way, we should have been in the case of Tantalus. But from the actual situation of the elbow, we are enabled to drink at our ease, the glass going directly to the mouth. Let us, then, with glass in hand, adore this benevolent wisdom; — let us adore and drink!

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Letter to the Abbé Morallet, Postscript (1779)
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Everything one has a right to do is not best to be done.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher, aphorist
Memorandum on Colonial Taxation
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Added on 23-Nov-20 | Last updated 23-Nov-20
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