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“I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power.” – Benjamin Franklin
The most popular Benjamin Franklin quotes are short witticisms – lessons about the rewards for healthy sleeping habits and saving pennies, for example. It is good that the Founding Father’s advice is still heeded, but he was much more than some doughy 18th century Ann Landers.
Like so many heroes of the American Revolutionary War, Franklin’s legacy is usually condensed into a few tidbits. He’s the guy who “invented electricity” (not quite – he proved that storm clouds contain electricity), or the Founding Father who famously smoked weed (there is no real evidence that he partook, although he did own a hemp paper mill and may have roasted a bone here and there).
To many Americans, Franklin is “the guy on the $100 bill.” They can thank the success of All About the Benjamins starring Ice Cube for knowing this piece of trivia.
These credits don’t even remotely do Franklin justice. As a polymath and a genius the man feathered his caps with the titles of inventor, scientist, printer, author, musician and satirist. As a politician, statesman and diplomat he earned the title of “The First American.”
Franklin served as the first United States Postmaster General, the first United States Ambassador to France, and the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania. He also helped to draft the Declaration of Independence. (It is said that Franklin’s peers did not trust him to actually write the Declaration for fear that he might include jokes. I doubt he would have taken the job so lightly, but understand any apprehensions about a man who would one day write A Letter to a Royal Academy About Farting.)
Franklin’s sense of humor did not make him any less of a patriot. His quotes about rights, rebellion, politics and freedom show that he loved his country, and also that he would have agreed with many core libertarian principles.