33 Benjamin Franklin Quotes That Capture American Wisdom At Its Finest

Published January 11, 2022
Updated April 18, 2022

These famous Benjamin Franklin quotes taken from volumes like Poor Richard's Almanack will both inspire you and make you chuckle.

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Benjamin Franklin Quotes Virtues
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33 Benjamin Franklin Quotes That Capture American Wisdom At Its Finest
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Benjamin Franklin spent most of his 84 years on earth thinking about the world around him and sharing his thoughts with anyone who would listen. And these Benjamin Franklin quotes are just the tip of the iceberg.

He is known as one of America's Founding Fathers, but he was much more than that. In his life, Franklin was a scientist, inventor, diplomat, and writer.

Despite lacking formal education — Franklin had just two years of schooling — he passionately dedicated himself to learning. He enjoyed reading and writing and left behind a wealth of witticisms, many of which have become classic American idioms still to this day.

How Benjamin Franklin's Quotes First Became Popular

Born on January 17, 1706, in Boston, Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin grew up as the 15th of his father's 17 children. Though he excelled in school, he dropped out after just two years to help in his father's soap and candle shop.

However, despite his lack of schooling, Franklin had a love for learning. He spent his time reading books and essays and even tested his retention. After reading something, Benjamin Franklin quoted it back to himself and then tried to write it down without looking.

Indeed, Franklin had an irrepressible interest in the written word. When he went to work for his brother's print shop, he was disappointed that his older sibling didn't let him publish anything in the New-England Courant. So, Franklin invented the persona of "Silence Dogood" to get his writing into the paper.

Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Albright-Knox Art Gallery via PBSBenjamin Franklin worked at several printing presses in his early life.

His popular editorials, first printed in 1722, allowed Franklin to do something he'd prove adept at for the rest of his life: offer pithy, thoughtful, and humorous advice. In this case, "Silence Dogood" dispensed wisdom on religion, marriage, and even women's fashion, among other topics.

After leaving his brother's shop, Franklin set up his own successful printer in Philadelphia. Before long, he purchased the Philadelphia Gazette and turned it into one of the colonies' most popular newspapers.

He also launched Poor Richard's Almanack (perhaps the greatest source of well-known Benjamin Franklin quotes) under the pseudonym "Richard Saunders" starting in 1732.

This publication offered the budding philosopher another avenue to deliver his unique wit and wisdom to more readers. It's here that Franklin helped popularize the iconic proverb, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

Poor Richard's Almanack also made Franklin very rich — and in a good position to support the nascent American Revolution.

The Most Quotable Founding Father In The Revolution

At first, Benjamin Franklin wasn't sure about revolting against the British. He once wrote, "Every encroachment on rights is not worth a rebellion," and dubbed the Boston Tea Party in 1775 an "act of violent injustice on our part."

Quotes By Benjamin Franklin

Library of CongressBenjamin Franklin helped win the support of France during the American Revolution.

Indeed, Franklin's long residency in London led some colonists to suspect he was actually a British spy. But Franklin played a vital role when war broke out between the British and the colonists in 1776.

He was heavily involved in four of the most important moments of the Revolution: the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, the signing of the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778, the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, and the signing of the United States Constitution in 1787.

And Benjamin Franklin quotes punctuated many of these important moments. After signing the Declaration of Independence, Franklin is alleged to have grimly declared, "We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Similarly, after a woman asked him, "Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?" following the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Franklin supposedly responded, "A republic, if you can keep it."

But Benjamin Franklin quotes aren't only intertwined with the founding of the country. They're also often good common sense — and sometimes show a very bawdy sensibility. Peruse the slideshow above, and see what this Founding Father said about virtue, reputation, wine, and why America's national bird should have been the turkey.

After this look at the best Benjamin Franklin quotes, check out the most incredible facts about Benjamin Franklin. Then, have a look at Franklin's infamous essay entitled "Fart Proudly."

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Adam Farley
Adam Farley is an Assistant Editor at All That's Interesting. He was previously content director of ShamrockGift.com and deputy editor of Irish America magazine. He holds an M.A. from New York University and a B.A. from the University of Washington.