Benjamin Franklin on the 100 dollar bill.

Advice from the “First American”: 17 of the wisest Benjamin Franklin quotes

Benjamin Franklin on the 100 dollar bill.

Benjamin Franklin was renowned for being a jack-of-all-trades, with experience as an inventor, author, politician, diplomat, scientist, printer, postmaster, and abolitionist, among many other respectable titles. In addition to his many accomplishments, the Founding Father had a way with words that still resonate with us today. For example, his Poor Richard’s Almanack, a pamphlet that contained a variety of weather forecasts, household tips, puzzles, and general life advice contains some of the most well-known witticisms that still survive in the modern vernacular. Let’s take a look at 17 of the wisest Benjamin Franklin quotes sourced from personal letters, essays, and the ever-relevant Poor Richard’s Almanack.

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“Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins.”

“On Freedom of Speech and the Press”, Pennsylvania Gazette (November 17, 1737)

“Ambition has its disappointments to sour us, but never the good fortune to satisfy us.”

“On True Happiness”, Pennsylvania Gazette (November 20, 1735)

“He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1733)

“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”

Letter to Josiah Quincy (September 11, 1783)

“Three may keep a Secret, if two of them are dead.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1735)

Benjamin Franklin signing the Declaration of Independence.

“Remember that time is money.”

Advice to a Young Tradesman (1748)

“The sleeping Fox catches no poultry. Up! up!”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1743)

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

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1735)

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Reply to the Governor (November 11, 1755)

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

Dictionary of Thoughts by Tryon Edwards (1908)

“Most People dislike Vanity in others whatever Share they have of it themselves.”

The Autobiography (1817)

Benjamin Franklin flying kite.

“Fish & Visitors stink in 3 days.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1736)

“In 200 years will people remember us as traitors or heros? That is the question we must ask.”

Letter to Thomas Jefferson (March 16, 1775)

“A good Lawyer is a bad Neighbour.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1737)

“I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharping and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird.”

Letter to Sarah Bache (January 26, 1784)

“Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1756)

“Search others for their virtues, thy self for thy vices.”

Poor Richard’s Almanack (1738)

 Portrait of Benjamin Franklin.

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