Read these Ben Franklin Quotes from his own letters and writings. Get into the mind of this famous Founding Father, one of the most well known heros of the Revolutionary War.
Our quotes are arranged chronologically and the ones on this page cover the period from 1742 to 1758. Franklin has come into his prime at this time. These quotes and the figures with whom he was corresponding show how prominent he had become. Some of these Ben Franklin Quotes come from his time as governor, or from letters to influential people such as Samuel Johnson, the president of King's College and George Whitfield, the most famous evangelist of the day. Another comes from his founding of the Pennsylvania Hospital and yet another from his book, The Way to Wealth.
Look over these Ben Franklin Quotes and you will begin to get an idea of how influential a man he was, even before the American Revolution. If you would like to learn more about Benjamin Franklin, check out our Facts about Benjamin Franklin page.
"Have you something to do to-morrow; do it to-day." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1742
"How many observe Christ's birth-day! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1743
"Wish not so much to live long as to live well." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1746
"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." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1747
"Remember that time is money." - Advice to a Young Tradesman, 1748
"It is the duty of mankind on all suitable occasions to acknowledge their dependence on the Divine Being... [that] Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the rage of war among the nations... [and that] He would take this province under his protection, confound the designs and defeat the attempts of its enemies, and unite our hearts and strengthen our hands in every undertaking that may be for the public good, and for our defense and security in this time of danger.
I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and governed 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, and virtue rewarded either here or hereafter.
Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.
The pleasures of this world are rather from God's goodness than our own merit." - As Governor, proposal for Pennsylvania's First Day of Fasting, 1748
"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." - Advice given to a young man, 1748
"A Spoonful of Honey will catch more Flies than a Gallon of Vinegar." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1748
"The good Education of Youth has been esteemed by wise Men in all Ages, as the surest Foundation of the Happiness both of private Families and of Common-wealths. Almost all Governments have therefore made it a principal Object of their Attention, to establish and endow with proper Revenues, such Seminaries of Learning, as might supply the succeeding Age with Men qualified to serve the Publick with Honour to themselves, and to their Country." - Ben Franklin Quotes from Proposals for Educating Youth in Pennsylvania, 1749
"History will also afford frequent, opportunities of showing the necessity of a public religion, from its usefulness to the public; the advantage of a religious character among private persons; the mischiefs of superstition, and the excellency of the Christian religion above all others, ancient or modern." - Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania, 1749
"History will also give Occasion to expatiate on the Advantage of Civil Orders and Constitutions, how Men and their Properties are protected by joining in Societies and establishing Government; their Industry encouraged and rewarded, Arts invented, and Life made more comfortable: The Advantages of Liberty, Mischiefs of Licentiousness, Benefits arising from good Laws and a due Execution of Justice, etc. Thus may the first Principles of sound Politicks be fix'd in the Minds of Youth." - Ben Franklin Quotes from Proposals for Educating Youth in Pennsylvania, 1749
"Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is." - Poor Richard's Almanack, 1749
"Little strokes fell great oaks." - Poor Richard's Almanack, August, 1750
"I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue... I think also, general virtue is more probably to be expected and obtained from the education of youth, than from the exhortation of adult persons; bad habits and vices of the mind being, like diseases of the body, more easily prevented than cured.
I think, moreover, that talents for the education of youth are the gift of God; and that he on whom they are bestowed, whenever a way is opened for the use of them, is as strongly called as if he heard a voice from heaven." - Letter to Dr. Samuel Johnson, first President of King's College (now Columbia University), August 23, 1750
"The Game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement; several very valuable qualities of the mind, useful in the course of human life, are to be acquired and strengthened by it, so as to become habits ready on all occasions; for life is a kind of Chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it. By playing at Chess then, we may learn: 1st, Foresight, which looks a little into futurity, and considers the consequences that may attend an action... 2nd, Circumspection, which surveys the whole Chess-board, or scene of action: - the relation of the several Pieces, and their situations; ...3rd, Caution, not to make our moves too hastily..." - The Moral of Chess - Article, 1750
"Repeal that [welfare] law, and you will soon see a change in their manners. St. Monday and St. Tuesday, will soon cease to be holidays. Six days shalt thou labor, though one of the old commandments long treated as out of date, will again be looked upon as a respectable precept; industry will increase, and with it plenty among the lower people; their circumstances will mend, and more will be done for their happiness by inuring them to provide for themselves, than could be done by dividing all your estates among them." - Letter to Peter Collinson, May 9, 1753
"I can only show my gratitude for these mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator.
You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such rewards... Even the mixed, imperfect pleasures we enjoy in this world, are rather from God's goodness than our merit; how much moresuch happiness of heaven!
For my part I have not the vanity to think I deserve it... but content myself in submitting to the will and disposal of that God who made me, who has hitherto preserved and blessed me, and in whose fatherly goodness I may well confide, that he will ever make me miserable; and that even the afflictions I may at any time suffer shall tend to my benefit.
The faith you mention has certainly its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavor 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 public spirit; not holiday-keeping, sermon-reading or hearing; performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers, filled with flatteries and compliments...
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 watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produce any fruit." - Ben Franklin Quotes from Letter to Joseph Huey, June 6, 1753
"It would be a neglect of that justice which is due to the physicians and surgeons of this hospital, not to acknowledge that their care and skill, and their punctual and regular attendance, under the Divine Blessing, has been a principal means of advancing this charity to the flourishing state in which we have now the pleasure to view it.
Relying on the continuance of the Favour of Heaven, upon the future endeavors of all who may be concerned in the management of the institution, for its further advancement, we close this account with the abstract of a sermon, preached before the Governors..." - Some Account of the Pennsylvania Hospital from its first rise, to the beginning of the fifth month, May, 1754
"In the year of Christ, 1755... This building, by the bounty of the Government and of many private persons, was piously founded, for the relief of the sick and miserable. May the God of mercies bless the undertaking!" - Cornerstone Inscription on Pennsylvania Hospital, May, 1754
"I condole with you, we have lost a most dear and valuable relation, but it is the will of God and Nature that these mortal bodies be laid aside, when the soul is to enter into real life; 'tis rather an embrio state, a preparation for living; a man is not completely born until he be dead: Why should we grieve that a new child is born among the immortals? A new member added to their happy society? We are spirits. That bodies should be lent us, while they can afford us pleasure, assist us in acquiring knowledge, or doing good to our fellow creatures, is a kind and benevolent act of God -- when they become unfit for these purposes and afford us pain rather than pleasure -- instead of an aid, become an incumbrance and answer none of the intentions for which they were given, it is equally kind and benevolent that a way is provided by which we may get rid of them. Death is that way. We ourselves prudently choose a partial death. In some cases a mangled painful limb, which can not be restored, we willingly cut off -- He who plucks out a tooth, parts with it freely since the pain goes with it, and he that quits the whole body, parts at once with all pains and possibilities of pains and diseases it was liable to, or capable of making him suffer." - Letter to Elizabeth Hubbart, when she was grieving at the death of her stepfather John Franklin, who was Benjamin's brother, February 22, 1756
"Life, like a dramatic piece, should... finish handsomely. Being now in the last act, I began to cast about for something fit to end with... I settle a colony on the Ohio... to settle in that fine country a strong body of religious and industrious people!... Might it not greatly facilitate the introduction of pure religion among the heathen, if we could, by such a colony, show them a better sample of Christians than they commonly see in our Indian traders?" - Letter to George Whitefield, July 2, 1756
"This doctrine, my friends, is reason and wisdom; but after all, do not depend too much upon your own industry, and frugality, and prudence, though excellent things, for they may all be blasted without the blessing of Heaven; and therefore, ask that blessing humbly, and be not uncharitable to those that at the present seem to want it, but comfort and help them. Remember, Job suffered, and was afterwards prosperous." - The Way to Wealth, 1757
"Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die To-morrow." - Ben Franklin Quotes from Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757
"I have read your Manuscript with some Attention. By the Arguments it contains against the Doctrine of a particular Providence, tho' you allow a general Providence, you strike at the Foundation of all Religion: For without the Belief of a Providence that takes Cognizance of, guards and guides and may favour particular Persons, there is no Motive to Worship a Deity, to fear its Displeasure, or to pray for its Protection. I will not enter into any Discussion of your Principles, tho' you seem to desire it; At present I shall only give you my Opinion that tho' your Reasonings are subtle, and may prevail with some Readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general Sentiments of Mankind on that Subject, and the Consequence of printing this Piece will be a great deal of Odium drawn upon your self, Mischief to you and no Benefit to others. He that spits against the Wind, spits in his own Face. But were you to succeed, do you imagine any Good would be done by it? You your self may find it easy to live a virtuous Life without the Assistance afforded by Religion; you having a clear Perception of the Advantages of Virtue and the Disadvantages of Vice, and possessing a Strength of Resolution sufficient to enable you to resist common Temptations. But think how great a Proportion of Mankind consists of weak and ignorant Men and Women, and of inexperienc'd and inconsiderate Youth of both Sexes, who have need of the Motives of Religion to restrain them from Vice, to support their Virtue, and retain them in the Practice of it till it becomes habitual, which is the great Point for its Security; And perhaps you are indebted to her originally that is to your Religious Education, for the Habits of Virtue upon which you now justly value yourself. You might easily display your excellent Talents of reasoning on a less hazardous Subject, and thereby obtain Rank with our most distinguish'd Authors. For among us, it is not necessary, as among the Hottentots that a Youth to be receiv'd into the Company of Men, should prove his Manhood by beating his Mother. I would advise you therefore not to attempt unchaining the Tyger, but to burn this Piece before it is seen by any other Person, whereby you will save yourself a great deal of Mortification from the Enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of Regret and Repentance. If Men are so wicked as we now see them with Religion what would they be if without it?" - Letter to Unknown Recipient, December 13, 1757
"He that lives upon hope will die fasting." - Poor Richard's Almanack, Preface, 1758
Learn more about Ben Franklin on our Facts about Benjamin Franklin page. You can read about Benjamin Franklin and Electricity here or learn about Benjamin Franklin's inventions.
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