Benjamin Franklin

(1706–1790)

Benjamin Franklin

Anecdote 1...

At the signing of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence John Hancock, one of the signatories, observed, “We must be unanimous, we must all hang together.” Franklin replied, “We must indeed all hang together — or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Anecdote 2...

When Franklin was dining out in Paris, one of the other diners posed the question: “What condition of man most deserves pity?” Each guest proposed an example of such a pitiable condition. When Franklin’s turn came, he offered: “A lonesome man on a rainy day who does not know how to read.”

Last words...

A dying man can do nothing easy.

~Benjamin Franklin

Of Note...

John Trumbull’s famous painting (right) depicts the five-man drafting committee presenting their work to the Congress. The five prominent figures depicted are, from left to right, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin.

Biographical Note: 

Benjamin Franklin was a U.S. statesman, diplomat, and scientist. Franklin’s first trade was printing; he published the Pennsylvania Gazette from 1729 and in 1733 started the immensely popular Poor Richard’s Almanac. He represented the American colonists in London (1757-62, 1764-75) and on his return home actively promoted the revolutionary cause, being one of the five who drafted the Declaration of Independence (1776). Sent to win France’s support for the Revolution, he brought about the vital alliance in 1778. He returned to take part in the Constitutional Convention (1787) and retired from public life the following year. Franklin found time to make important contributions to physical theory, identified lightning as an electrical charge, drew the first printed chart of the Gulf Stream, and invented bifocal spectacles and the lightning rod, among many other things.

More Information: 

Read about Benjamin Franklin. For a sampling from Poor Richard’s Almanac, visit our Quotes Archives.