Read Ben Franklin Quotes from his own letters, speeches and writings. Benjamin Franklin is one of the most well known and studied of the Patriots of the Revolutionary War. These Ben Franklin Quotes will give you insight into the mind of this Revolutionary War Hero.
Our quotes are arranged chronologically and the ones on this page cover the years of 1758 to 1784. As such, they cover the period leading up to and including the American Revolution. They include quotes from Franklin's time as Ambassador to France and letters to many prominent figures of the Revolutionary War. These quotes reveal his opinions about marriage, immigrants and the Bible, just to name a few.
If you would like to learn more about Benjamin Franklin, check out our Facts about Benjamin Franklin page.
"He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing." - In his writings, 1758
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
"Your frequently repeated Wishes and Prayers for my Eternal as well as temporal Happiness are very obliging. I can only thank you for them, and offer you mine in return." - Letter to George Whitefield, June 19, 1764
"It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street." - Autobiography, on the effects of the ministry of evangelist George Whitefield, 1764
"I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer." - Relating to prices and the poor, 1766
"I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it." - On the Price of Corn and Management of the Poor, November 29, 1766
"To the haranguers of the populace among the ancients, succeed among the moderns your writers of political pamphlets and news-papers, and your coffee-house talkers." - Reply to Coffee House Orators, April 9, 1767
"Be in general virtuous, and you will be happy." - Letter to John Alleyne, August 9, 1768
"Finally, there seem to be but three Ways for a Nation to acquire Wealth. The first is by War as the Romans did in plundering their conquered Neighbours. This is Robbery. The second by Commerce which is generally Cheating. The third by Agriculture the only honest Way; wherein Man receives a real Increase of the Seed thrown into the Ground, in a kind of continual Miracle wrought by the Hand of God in his favour, as a Reward for his innocent Life, and virtuous Industry." - Positions to be Examined, April 4, 1769
"A disposition to abolish slavery prevails in North America, that many of Pennsylvanians have set their slaves at liberty, and that even the Virginia Assembly have petitioned the King for permission to make a law for preventing the importation of more into that colony. This request, however, will probably not be granted as their former laws of that kind have always been repealed." - Letter to Rev. Dean Woodward, April 10, 1773
"No nation was ever ruined by trade, even seemingly the most disadvantageous." - Principles of Trade, 1774
"Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh in his
chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto: 'Rebellion to tyrants is
obedience to God.'" - Proposed Seal of the United States, July, 1776
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately (attributed)." - At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
"It is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own." - Letter to Samuel Cooper, May 1, 1777
"A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district - all studied and appreciated as they merit - are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty." - March, 1778
"George Washington, Commander of the American armies, who like Joshua of old, commanded the sun and the moon to stand still, and they obeyed him." - A toast at a dinner of foreign dignitaries at Versailles, after the British foreign minister toasted King George III, likening him to the sun, and the French minister toasted Louis XVI, likening him to the moon, 1781
"The almost general mediocrity of fortune that prevails in America obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usually from idleness are in great measure prevented. Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America; which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced.
Atheism is unknown there; Infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel.
And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other; by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favor the whole country." - Information for Those Who Would Remove to America, September, 1782
"The married state is, after all our jokes, the happiest, being conformable to our natures. Man and woman have each of them qualities and tempers in which the other is deficient and which in union contribute to the common felicity. Single and separate, they are not the complete human being; they are like the odd halves of scissors; they cannot answer the end of their formation." - Letter to John Sargent, January 27, 1783
"Where liberty dwells, there is my country." - Letter to Benjamin Vaughn, March 14, 1783
"There never was a good war or a bad peace." - Letter to Josiah Quincy III, September 11, 1783
"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." - Letter to Robert Morris, December 25, 1783
"Strangers are welcome because there is room enough for them all, and therefore the old Inhabitants are not jealous of them; the Laws protect them sufficiently so that they have no need of the Patronage of great Men; and every one will enjoy securely the Profits of his Industry. But if he does not bring a Fortune with him, he must work and be industrious to live." - Information for possible immigrants to America, February, 1784
"Let us, therefore, beware of being lulled in to a dangerous security; and of being enervated and impoverished by luxury: of being weakened by internal contentions and divisions; of being shamefully extravagant in contracting private debts, while we are backward in discharging honourably those of the public: of neglect in military exercises and discipline, and in providing stores of arms and munition of war, to be ready on occasion: for all these are circumstances that give confidence to enemies, and diffidence to friends; and the expenses required to prevent a war, are much lighter than those that will, if not prevented, be absolutely necessary to maintain it." - Letter to Charles Thomson, May 13, 1784
"Every Man who comes among us, and takes up a piece of Land, becomes a Citizen, and by our Constitution has a Voice in Elections, and a share in the Government of the Country." - Letter to William Straham, August 19, 1784
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