benjamin franklin quotes

160+ Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Life, Liberty, and Wealth

Benjamin Franklin is best known for his inventions and for being a Founding Father of the United States. He was a statesman, scientist, and diplomat. Without Franklin’s role in the most pivotal moments in United States history, things might be quite different today. Keep reading for some of the best Benjamin Franklin quotes.

Ben Franklin: Who Was He?

Ben Franklin grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. Despite the little education, money, and resources he had, he was an avid reader and taught himself how to write. When he was 16 years old, he contributed essays to a local newspaper under the pseudonym “Silence Dogood.” Then, when he was 17 years old, he ran away to Philadelphia, and that’s when his success really began. 

He started a printing business and participated in duties as a civic activist by helping launch a library, a hospital, and a college. He achieved fame with his publication of Poor Richard’s Almanack in 1733, where he wrote under a pseudonym, Richard Saunders. Poor Richard’s Almanack was known for witty sayings, jokes, weather reports, moon phases, and more. Poor Richard’s Almanack was so popular-selling 10,000 copies a year–that Napoleon ordered it and had it translated into Italian. 

He was quite active in United States politics, too. He served in the Second Continental Congress, helped write the Declaration of Independence, negotiated in the Treaty of Paris (1783), and took part as a delegate in the Constitutional Convention. Along with all of this, he conducted several infamous experiments with electricity. He created inventions we use today, including bifocals (glasses), the lightning rod, swim fins (flippers), the Franklin stove, and more. 

Benjamin Franklin was a Freemason, a political theorist, an inventor, and so much more who lived to be 85 years old. He left us with brilliant inventions, and we honor him with museums, autobiography books, and with his face on every $100 bill. His legacy will live on forever! 

benjamin franklin quotes
Joseph Duplessis

Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Liberty and Freedom 

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” -Benjamin Franklin

“From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally the portion, it is still the birthright of all men.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Every man…is, of common right, and by the laws of God, a freeman, and entitled to the free enjoyment of liberty.” -Benjamin Franklin

“God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: This is my country.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I believe there is one Supreme most perfect being. […] I believe He is pleased and delights in the happiness of those He has created; and since without virtue man can have no happiness in this world, I firmly believe He delights to see me virtuous.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such: because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well-administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.” -Benjamin Franklin

“When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Slavery is such an atrocious debasement of human nature that its very extirpation, if not performed with solicitous care, may sometimes open a source of serious evils. The unhappy man who has been treated as a brute animal too frequently sinks beneath the common standard of the human species. The galling chains that bind his body do also fetter his intellectual faculties and impair the social affections of his heart… To instruct, to advise, to qualify those, who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty… and to procure for their children an education calculated for their future situation in life; these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Where liberty is, there is my country.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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!’” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“We need a revolution every 200 years because all governments become stale and corrupt after 200 years.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“No nation was ever ruined by trade.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Security without liberty is called prison.” -Benjamin Franklin

Statue of Liberty

Benjamin Franklin Quotes About Work, Success, and Failure

“Employ your time well, if you mean to get leisure.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Well done is better than well said.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I never knew a man who was good at making excuses who was good at anything else.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Hide not your talents; they for use were made. What’s a sun-dial in the shade?” -Benjamin Franklin

“The eye of the master will do more work than both his hands.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Never confuse Motion with Action.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Work as if you were to live a thousand years, play as if you were to die tomorrow.” -Benjamin Franklin

“It is the working man who is the happy man. It is the idle man who is the miserable man.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that can have patience can have what he will.” -Benjamin Franklin

“You may delay, but time will not.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I didn’t fail the test; I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.” -Benjamin Franklin

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” -Benjamin Franklin

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” -Benjamin Franklin

gold microphone condensers

Ben Franklin Quotes On Wealth

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Necessity never made a good bargain.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” -Benjamin Franklin

“If you know how to spend less than you get, you have the philosopher’s stone.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Having been poor is no shame; being ashamed of it is.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“Content makes poor men rich; discontentment makes rich men poor.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I am for doing good to the poor, but… 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. I observed…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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“A penny saved is a penny earned.” -Benjamin Franklin

100 us dollar bill

Benjamin Franklin Quotes from Poor Richard’s Almanack

“Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” -Benjamin Franklin

“In the Affairs of this World, Men are saved, not by faith, but by the Lack of it.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Lost Time is never found again.” -Benjamin Franklin

“No gains without pains.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Women are books, and men the readers be…” -Benjamin Franklin

“There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Speak little, do much.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” -Benjamin Franklin

“To all apparent beauties blind, each blemish strikes an envious mind.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Clean your finger before you point at my Spots.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” -Benjamin Franklin

“There are three faithful friends, an old wife, an old dog, and ready money.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that’s content, hath enough; He that complains has too much.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The World is full of fools and faint hearts, and yet everyone has courage enough to bear the misfortunes, and wisdom enough to manage the Affairs of his neighbor.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Better slip with foot than tongue.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that falls in love with himself will have no rivals.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Look before, or you’ll find yourself behind.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t throw stones at your neighbors if your own windows are glass.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that would live in peace & at ease, Must not speak all he knows or judge all he sees.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Well done is better than well said.” -Benjamin Franklin

“What you seem to be, be really.” -Benjamin Franklin

“A true friend is the best Possession.” -Benjamin Franklin

“When you’re good to others, you’re best to yourself.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Pardoning the Bad is injuring the Good.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Hide not your Talents; they for Use were made. What’s a Sun-Dial in the shade!” -Benjamin Franklin

“Glass, China, and Reputation are easily crack’d, and never well mended.” -Benjamin Franklin

“What more valuable than Gold? Diamonds. Than Diamonds? Virtue.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Haste makes Waste.” -Benjamin Franklin

“It is better to take many Injuries than to give one.” -Benjamin Franklin

 “Wish not so much to live long as to live well.” -Benjamin Franklin

“A right Heart exceeds all.” -Benjamin Franklin

gray metal bridge over body of water during daytime

Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Life

“Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” -Benjamin Franklin

“One today is worth two tomorrows.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“In wine, there is wisdom; in beer, there is Freedom; in water, there is bacteria.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“Life, like a dramatic piece, should not only be conducted with regularity, but it should finish handsomely.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Life’s tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Would you live with ease, do what you ought and not what you please.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The ancients tell us what is best, but we must learn of the moderns what is fittest.” -Benjamin Franklin

“When you’re testing to see how deep water is, never use two feet.” -Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Death and Health

“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?” -Benjamin Franklin

“God heals, and the Doctor takes the Fees.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Eat to live and not live to eat.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Be not sick too late, nor well too soon.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy Meals.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t misinform your Doctor nor your Lawyer.” -Benjamin Franklin

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” -Benjamin Franklin

“…but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Fear not death, for the sooner we die, the longer we shall be immortal.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“I look upon death to be as necessary to our constitution as sleep.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The best of all medicines are rest and fasting.” -Benjamin Franklin

ink bottle on desk

Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Reading, Writing, and Knowledge

“The person who deserves most pity is a lonesome one on a rainy day who doesn’t know how to read.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man.” -Benjamin Franklin

“The heart of a fool is in his mouth, but the mouth of a wise man is in his heart.” -Benjamin Franklin

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“If you would persuade, you must appeal to interest rather than intellect.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Tell me, and I forget, teach me, and I may remember, involve me, and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Words may show a man’s wit, actions his meaning.” -Benjamin Franklin

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Common sense is something that everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.” -Benjamin Franklin

selective focus photography of three cork lids with feather

Benjamin Franklin Quotes About Man and Character

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Those that won’t be counseled can’t be helped.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Fear to do ill, and you need fear naught else.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“There was never a truly great man that was not at the same time, truly virtuous.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Wink at small faults; remember thou hast great ones.” -Benjamin Franklin

“He that falls in love with himself will have no Rivals.” -Benjamin Franklin

person holding hands of another person

Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Friends and Enemies

“Be slow in choosing a friend, slower in changing.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Tis a great confidence in a friend to tell him your faults; greater to tell him his.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“There is much difference between imitating a man and counterfeiting him.” -Benjamin Franklin

“I don’t believe in stereotypes. I prefer to hate people on a more personal basis.” -Benjamin Franklin

100 US dollar banknote

Other Benjamin Franklin Quotes 

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Each year, one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.” -Benjamin Franklin

“A great talker may be no fool, but he is one that relies on him.” -Benjamin Franklin

“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.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Don’t go to the doctor with every distemper, nor to the lawyer with every quarrel, nor to the pot for every thirst. ” -Benjamin Franklin

“A new truth is a truth; an old error is an error. ” -Benjamin Franklin

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

“Creditors have better memories than debtors.” -Benjamin Franklin

“God helps them who help themselves.” -Benjamin Franklin

“Hope and faith may be more firmly built upon charity than charity upon faith and hope.” -Benjamin Franklin

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” -Benjamin Franklin

“It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” -Benjamin Franklin

More Quotes:

About the author
January Nelson is a writer, editor, and dreamer. She writes about astrology, games, love, relationships, and entertainment. January graduated with an English and Literature degree from Columbia University. Read more articles from January on Thought Catalog.

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