Benjamin Franklin’s Quotes

He began investigating electricity in the early 1750s. Franklin gained international prominence as a result of his famous kite experiment and other discoveries, which proved the nature of electricity and lightning.

Franklin’s interest in politics grew quickly. In 1757, he came to England to represent Pennsylvania in a legal battle with the Penn family’s successors about who should represent the colony. He remained in England as a Colonial representative for numerous states until 1775.

Franklin was then elected to the Second Continental Congress, where he was part of a five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Despite the fact that Thomas Jefferson wrote the majority of the book, Franklin made the majority of the contributions. Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and then sailed to France to serve as an envoy to Louis XVI’s court.

Franklin died on April 17, 1790, at the age of 84, and his funeral drew 20,000 people. His energising personality is reflected in these quotes.

Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.


The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.


To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.


If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.


Be studious in your profession, and you will be learned. Be industrious and frugal and you will be rich. Be sober and temperate and you will be healthy. Be in general virtuous and you will be happy.


Those that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.


People will accept your idea much more readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin said it first.


If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.


Be not sick too late, nor well too soon.


There are two ways of being happy — we may either diminish our wants or augment our means — either will do, the result is the same; and it is for each man to decide for himself, and do that which happens to be the easiest. If you are idle or sick or poor, however hard it may be to diminish your wants, it will be harder to augment your means.


The wit of conversation consists more in finding it in others, than showing a great deal yourself. He who goes out of your company pleased with his own facetiousness and ingenuity, will the sooner come into it again.


Fear to do ill, and you need fear naught else.


An old young man will be a young old man.


Some, to make themselves considerable, pursue learning; others grasp at wealth; some aim at being thought witty; and others are only careful to make the most of a handsome person; but what is wit, or wealth, or form, or learning, when compared with virtue? It is true we love the handsome, we applaud the learned, and we fear the rich and powerful; but we even worship and adore the virtuous.


If you are active and prosperous, or young, or in good health, it may be easier for you to augment your means than to diminish your wants. But if you are wise, you will do both at the same time, young or old, rich or poor, sick or well; and if you are wise, you will do both in such a way as to augment the general happiness of society.


Glass, china, and reputation are easily cracked and never well mended.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


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 in being watered and putting forth leaves, tho’ it never produced any fruit.


A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.


A great talker may be no fool, but he is one that relies on him.


When you incline to have new clothes, look first well over the old ones, and see if you cannot shift with them another year, either by scouring, mending, or even patching if necessary. Remember, a patch on your coat, and money in your pocket, is better and more creditable, than a writ on your back, and no money to take it off.


Lost time is never found again.


Eat to live, and not live to eat.


Don’t misinform your Doctor nor your Lawyer.


To expect people to be good, to be just, to be temperate, etc., without showing them how they should become so, seems like the ineffectual charity mentioned by the apostle, which consisted in saying to the hungry, the cold and the naked, be ye fed, be ye warmed, be ye clothed, without showing them how they should get food, fire or clothing.


When there is so much to be done for yourself, your family, and your country, be up by peep of day! Let not the sun look down and say, ‘Inglorious here he lies!’


Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.


Eat to please yourself, but dress to please others.


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.


He’s the best physician that knows the worthlessness of the most medicines.


God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.


He that is known to pay punctually and exactly to the time he promises, may at any time, and on any occasion, raise all the money his friends can spare.


When I am employed in serving others, I do not look upon myself as conferring favors, but as paying debts. I have received much kindness from men to whom I shall never have an opportunity of making the least direct returns; and numberless mercies from God, who is infinitely above being benefited by our services. Those kindnesses from men I can, therefore, only return on their fellow-men, and I can only show my gratitude for those mercies from God by a readiness to help His other children.


This is sometimes of great use.


Life, like a dramatic piece, should not only be conducted with regularity, but it should finish handsomely.


God helps them who help themselves.


Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.


Men are subject to various inconveniences merely through lack of a small share of courage, which is a quality very necessary in the common occurrences of life, as well as in a battle. How many impertinences do we daily suffer with great uneasiness, because we have not courage enough to discover our dislike.


Having been poor is no shame, being ashamed of it is.


If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.


If a sound body and a sound mind, which is as much as to say health and virtue, are to be preferred before all other considerations, ought not men, in choosing a business either for themselves or children, to refuse such as are unwholesome for the body, and such as make a man too dependent, too much obliged to please others, and too much subjected to their humors in order to be recommended and get a livelihood?


Our opinions are not in our own power; they are formed and governed much by circumstances that are often as inexplicable as they are irresistible.


The art of getting riches consists very much in thrift. All men are not equally qualified for getting money, but it is in the power of every one alike to practice this virtue.


Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have brains enough to be honest.


A penny saved is a penny earned.


I would advise you to read with a pen in hand, and enter in a little book short hints of what you find that is curious, or that may be useful; for this will be the best method of imprinting such particulars in your memory.


After all, wedlock is the natural state of man. A bachelor is not a complete human being. He is like the odd half of a pair of scissors, which has not yet found its fellow, and therefore is not even half so useful as they might be together.


Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.


There are in life real evils enough, and it is folly to afflict ourselves with imaginary ones; it is time enough when the real ones arrive.


By the collision of different sentiments, sparks of truth are struck out, and political light is obtained. The different factions, which at present divide us, aim all at the public good; the differences are only about the various modes of promoting it.


You may delay, but time will not.


Hope and faith may be more firmly built upon charity, than charity upon faith and hope.


If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.


Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.


One today is worth two tomorrows.


Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.


We shall rise refreshed in the morning.


I look upon death to be as necessary to our constitution as sleep.


We need a revolution every 200 years, because all governments become stale and corrupt after 200 years.


Security without liberty is called prison.


The best of all medicines are rest and fasting.


The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to your mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all others, charity.


Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.


When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.


The most trifling actions of a man, in my opinion, as well as the smallest features and lineaments of the face give a nice observer some notion of his mind.


He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.


It seems to me, that if statesmen had a little more arithmetic, or were accustomed to calculation, wars would be much less frequent.


Common sense is something that everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.


Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.


I never knew a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else.


Most men die from the neck up at age twenty-five because they stop dreaming.


I don’t believe in stereotypes. I prefer to hate people on a more personal basis.


To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy Meals.


The ancients tell us what is best; but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.


He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money.


Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.


Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight.


Well done is better than well said.


Energy and persistence conquer all things.


Employ your time well, if you mean to get leisure.


If you would know the value of money, go try to borrow some; for he that goes a-borrowing goes a-sorrowing.


The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands.


If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.


Creditors have better memories than debtors.


When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.


To the generous mind the heaviest debt is that of gratitude, when it is not in our power to repay it.


A brother may not be a friend, but a friend will always be a brother.


Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?


Words may show a man’s wit but actions his meaning.


It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.


There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him.


No nation was ever ruined by trade.


Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.


If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.


Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.


There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.


Where liberty is, there is my country.


Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.


By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.


We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.


He that falls in love with himself, will have no Rivals.


Wink at small faults; remember thou hast great ones.


Necessity never made a good bargain.


To be content, look backward on those who possess less than yourself, not forward on those who possess more. If this does not make you content, you don’t deserve to be happy.


In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.


The way to be safe, is never to be secure.


It is a common error in friends, when they would extol their friends, to make comparisons, and to depreciate the merits of others.


Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.


Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.


A new truth is a truth, an old error is an error.


Having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information or fuller consideration to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.


A man of words and not of deeds, is like a garden full of weeds.


The way to secure peace is to be prepared for war. They that are on their guard, and appear ready to receive their adversaries, are in much less danger of being attacked, than the supine, secure, and negligent.


A fat kitchen makes a lean will.


Don’t go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst.


I never saw an oft-removed tree, nor yet an oft-removed family, that throve so well as those that settled be.


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