One of the most important people in American history, Benjamin Franklin (born January 17, 1706, Boston, Massachusetts Bay, English America – died April 17, 1790, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) was a polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a statesman, printer and publisher, scientist and inventor, author, and diplomat.
Raised in a family with modest means, Franklin had to terminate his education when he was 10. Despite that, he was an avid reader and became successful editor and publisher in Philadelphia, publishing Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanack. During his time in Philadelphia, Franklin was active in public affairs, where he helped to establish new institutions such as a lending library, a fire company, an academy, and a hospital.
As a prolific scientist and inventor, Franklin was a leading figure in the American Enlightenment for his work on electricity. Some of his most famous inventions were the lightning rod, Franklin stove, glass harmonica and bifocal glasses.
Benjamin Franklin is the only Founding Father who has signed all four of the key documents of the founding of the United States: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783) and the United States Constitution (1787).
Today, more than 200 years after his death, Franklin’s image appears on coinage and the $100 bill, and many towns, educational institutions, counties and corporations across America are named after him.
They who can give up essential Liberty to obtain a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.Franklin's Contributions to the Conference on (February 17, 1775)
Dost thou love Life? then do not squander Time; for that’s the Stuff Life is made of.Poor Richard (1746)
Without Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as publick Liberty, without Freedom of Speech.'Silence Dogood, No. 8,' The New-England Courant (July 9, 1722)
If you would know the Value of Money, go and try to borrow some; for, he that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
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.Poor Richard Improved (1755)
Remember that Time is Money.Advice to a young Tradesman, written by an old One. To my Friend A. B. (1748)
Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made. What’s a Sun-Dial in the Shade!Poor Richard Improved (1750)
If you wou’d not be forgotten
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
Or do things worth the writing.Poor Richard (1738)
Work as if you were to live 100 Years, Pray as if you were to die Tomorrow.Poor Richard Improved (1757)
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.Letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy (Philadelphia, November 13, 1789)
All Wars are Follies, very expensive and very mischieveous ones.Letter to Mary Stevenson Hewson (Passy, January 27, 1783)
The Way to see by Faith, is to shut the Eye of Reason: The Morning Daylight appears plainer when you put out your Candle.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
Tricks and Treachery are the Practice of Fools, that have not Wit enough to be honest.Poor Richard (1740)
Each year one vicious habit rooted out,
In time might make the worst Man good throughout.Poor Richard (1738)
Most people return small Favours, acknowledge middling ones, and repay great ones with Ingratitude.Poor Richard Improved (1751)
In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself.The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Poverty often deprives a Man of all Spirit and Virtue: ‘Tis hard for an empty Bag to stand upright.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
Many a Man thinks he is buying Pleasure, when he is really selling himself a Slave to it.Poor Richard Improved (1750)
Laws like to Cobwebs catch small Flies,
Great ones break thro’ before your eyes.Poor Richard (1734)
A great Empire, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the Edges.Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One (Printed in The Public Advertiser, September 11, 1773)
When Man and Woman die, as Poets sung,
His Heart’s the last part moves, her last, the tongue.Poor Richard (1739)
In general Mankind, since the improvement of Cookery, eat about twice as much as Nature requires.Letter to Catherine Shipley (Philada, May 2, 1786)
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.Poor Richard (1743)
The poor man must walk to get meat for his stomach, the rich man to get a stomach to his meat.Poor Richard (1735)
Be at War with your Vices, at Peace with your Neighbours, and let every New-Year find you a better Man.Poor Richard Improved (1755)
Idleness and Pride Tax with a heavier Hand then Kings and Parliaments.Letter to Charles Thomson (London, July 11, 1765)
Buy what thou hast no Need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy Necessaries.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
He that riseth late, must trot all day, and shall scarce overtake his business at night.Poor Richard (1742)
You cannot pluck roses without fear of thorns,
Nor enjoy a fair wife without danger of horns.Poor Richard (1734)
A Change of Fortune hurts a wise Man no more than a Change of the Moon.Poor Richard Improved (1756)
Silence in not always a Sign of Wisdom, but Babbling is ever a Mark of Folly.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
To be proud of Knowledge, is to be blind with Light; to be proud of Virtue, is to poison yourself with the Antidote.Poor Richard Improved (1756)
Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.Letter to the Abbés Chalut and Arnoux (April 17, 1787)
‘Tis easier to suppress the first Desire, than to satisfy all that follow it.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
He that would live in peace and at ease,
Must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees.Poor Richard (1736)
The Eyes of other People are the Eyes that ruin us. If all but myself were blind, I should want neither fine Clothes, fine Houses nor Fine Furniture.Letter to Benjamin Vaughan (Passy, July 26, 1784)
No Nation was ever ruin’d by Trade.Franklin's Contributions to a Pamphlet by George Whatley (March 1774)
Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.Letter to the Abbé Morellet (after July 5, 1779?)
If evils come not, then our fears are vain:
And if they do, Fear but augments the pain.Poor Richard (1741)
Cut the Wings of your Hens and Hopes, lest they lead you a weary Dance after them.Poor Richard Improved (1754)
The proof of gold is fire, the proof of woman, gold; the proof of man, a woman.Poor Richard (1733)
Pride breakfasted with Plenty, dined with Poverty, and supped with Infamy.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
Doing an Injury puts you below your Enemy; Revenging one makes you but even with him; Forgiving it sets you above him.Poor Richard Improved (1749)
Gain may be temporary and uncertain, but ever while you live, Expence is constant and certain; and ’tis easier to build two Chimnies than to keep one in Fuel.Poor Richard Improved (1758)
So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for every thing one has a mind to do.The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
If you would have a faithful Servant, and one that you like, serve yourself.Poor Richard Improved (1758)