Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin, (1706-1790) US Founding Father

Benjamin Franklin Quote

“A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved. It is in the region of ignorance that tyranny begins.”

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin
~ Benjamin Franklin

Ratings and Comments

Some Body, Ontario,CA

It's great!

Mike, Norwalk

Slaves are tyrannically given permission (license) by their masters to transport themselves in master allowed (licensed) and owned (property tax) modes of transportation. Slaves tyrannically give to their masters what ever portion of their labor their masters demand (as is measured by the fruits of that labor) Slaves derive rights (if any) from their governmental (society) masters. A nation of well informed men who have been taught to know and prize the rights which God has given them cannot be enslaved, but rather live as free men in a Representative Repulic with a Constitution for which it stands.

E Archer, NYC

When we prize our government services more than our rights, the shift has been made from liberty to license.

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Nice theory, unfortunately incorrect.

Kal Schmunck, Racine,Wi

Franlin knew that if people didn't educate themselves on current issues they are doomed to their own ignorance. When you trust too much in a Leader lying to you, you give power to a tyrant or tyrants. We must insist on truth from our leaders and if we receive none it's our duty to remove them. Freedom without truth leads to destuction of liberties.

Nancy, Marion, OH

The Hollywood comment isn't surprising. Precisely the point that our founding fathers were trying to make. Lose your moral compass, and you will lose your liberty. We have chosen to let Washington set the compass, henceforth, tyranny is growing in our country. We can rectify that. Let's get to work.

Kurt, Los Angeles

Note that Dr. Franklin did not specify whose responsibility it is to "well inform" the citizens of this country. Our form of government was never intended to be a pure democracy. It is a democratic republic. Our responsibility is to elect only wise and honorable men/women to represent us. The framers walked out of Independence Hall with an elitist form of government. (The Bill of Rights came later and was not intented to confer any substantive rights on citizens, only further limitations on the power of the federal government.) Senators were to be elected by each state legislature and the president by the Eectoral College comprised of electors from each state, the number of which were and are determined by each states' population. The purpose of the Electoral College was to assure that only the wisest of the wise (in their sole determination) would be selected as president. The only federal voting right of the population in general was the right to vote for a congressional representative in the House. The whole structure was so top heavy in favor of the elites that the framers threw us a bone;i.e., all appropriations of money must originate in the House. In theory, our representatives would look out for their district constituents and turn off the money supply if the elites became too tyranical. However, even that set-up was not entirely democratic because each state had the power to determine who could vote. The framers were afraid of two things: a) the formation of a tyrany, and b) the general population, many of which were illiterate, uneducated, transient and generally unwashed or female. State laws determined who could vote by imposing pre-conditions (aside from being a slave) such as land ownership, poll taxes and literacy. So, who was Franklin referring to as "well informed men who have been taught...:? Most likely, he had in mind the landed gentry who had the means to send their kids to Harvard or Oxford and who maintained a home library containing the classics of literature, philosophy and the fine arts. Jefferson's personal library, donated by him to the federal government, formed the initial collection of the Library of Congress. And a great number of people of fortunate circumstances read widely, wrote letters and traveled to Europe. These were the well informed men who knew their rights - and their congressmen, their senators and probably their president. In a massive wave of egalitarianism we have been granted the right to vote for our senators as well as congressmen. But we sill can't directly vote in a presidential election. Ignorance of the law is no defense to the breach of one. And we are, as citizens, obligated to keep ourselves well informed, but about what? There are no posted agendas for the House and Senate. We don't know the status of a bill or who voted for or against it without first knowing the bill number. And there is no index. Try reading the latest stimulus package. Just surf on over to and devote the ramainder of the month trying to pick your way through just one piece of legislation. We cannot be expected to know enough to second guess our elected representatives, particularly since it is highly likely they haven't read the stuff themselves. A few days after 9/11/01 there appeared on the desks of every congressman and senator one of the largest airline bail-out bills in history. It was passed without a hearing and signed off by the president. The dirty little secret is that nobody read the thing. Who wrote a 1,000 page bill and slipped it through congress before the dust settled over Manhattan? Timing is everything. Benjamin Franklin is also noted for stating that, over the course of all deliberations leading the the signing of the constitution, the framers explored every form of government known to man. His conclusion was that any form of government is acceptable as long as it is "well managed". He was not very concerned about the state of the union during the lives of the framers, but could not hazard a guess about the future. He said that if the republic was not well managed it would turn into a tyrany. We have now arrived. While we riding on the merry-go-round with outstretched arms trying to grab the American Dream, moneyed interests took over the levers of our government. It ceased to be well managed. It turned into a Plutocracy. Graft and corruption have been around forever but not on the scale, and as openly, as it has been for the last thrity years. And the whole thing was engineered under the rubric of "deregulation". We have sanctioned the institutionalization of greed. The Wall Street pay structure is based on some amorphous system of bonuses so entrenched that it can no longer be classified as embezzlement. There is no law preventing it. And there was no law in existence to stop J.D. Rockefeller and his cronies from cornering the American economy until Teddy Roosevelt stamped down his foot and we enacted the anti-trust laws. They haven't been enforced in decades. Someone forgot that capitalism has it's limits. Someone please tell me how to become well informed when our elected representatives are not. Subscribe to the post-Bush flood of reports coming out of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at its web site: Read through them and discover why the GAO won't even certify this country's financial statements. Bush ordered the DOD to violate the law and not report the amount of money they were/are spending to congress. Check out the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) web site: and read about the impossibilty of defining the costs of a "global war on terror". Also available (now) on the GAO web site is the speech given by the then Comptroller General of the GAO in January, 2008, wherein he stated that the entire "federal debt burden" (only part of which is the national debt) until the year 2040 was then over $53 trillion, not counting two wars for which numbers were not reported, and, of course, the trillions now being spent to prevent the total collapse of our economy. After that speech was posted Mr. Bush fired the Comptroller General and his speech was buried so deep in web links that it could not be found without knowing what to look for. A well informed citizen no longer knows what his rights are. Little things like the "Patriot Act" have subjected us to star chamber proceedings before unknown and unnamed "FISA Courts" that allow unknown agencies of government drag us from our homes homes, tap our telephones, homes and computers. It's dangerous to speak the word "terrorist" in public and even more to have an Arabic appearance. We now live in a country where the exact nature of our "rights" can no longer be defined. There are more exceptions than there are rules. An adversarial relationship between our government and its citizens has been institutionalized. Our elected representatives can't tell us the truth without admitting to gross dereliction of duty and, more likely than not, bribery and corruption. And the news media are more interested in selling air time through sensatinalism than objectively ferreting out the truth. Our government is opaque and more secret than a mortician's profit margin. Today, a man seeking to become well informed about his rights is well advised not to bother. Nobody knows what's going on. Greed is an addiction to material things, usually money, and that is what is bringing us to our knees. Addicts will not even admit to a problem until they "hit bottom", run out of excuses and discover they have no place to run. And no consensus sufficient to overcome the lure of special interests can be formed until the lights begin to flicker off in the White House and Capitol and the oil companies stop giving the government a line of credit to fuel up Air Force One. Until that time comes we can only sit and wait. History is definitely against us. England has had a monarchy (with only one time out) for 1,000 years. Time periods for the Romans, Turks and Egyptians are measured by millenia. Harvard College was founded in 1636. The constitution went into effect 150 years later. The 150th anniversary of the constitution was celebrated in 1939. And it has taken us only 70 years to run our country into the ground.

Kurt E. Matthews, Los Angeles, CA

I agree but too few people even know what "rights" they have. I suspect that only a minute number of our population even own a copy of the constitution or, if so, have even read it from beginning to Amendment XXVII (which was proposed by Congress on Sept. 25, 1789 and and finally ratified by New Jersey on May 7, 1992 - ha!) It is certain that Dick Cheney and George Bush never did. Of more concern are cases when one's rights are clear and are violated by law enforcement (e.g., suffering warrantless searches and seizures for no reason other than harassment by the local police). Perhaps the cops do it just because they don't like blacks, jews or homosexuals living in their towns. Redress? File a complaint with the police department. You will get the inevitable letter that the cops were justified. The District Attorney doesn't care and the FBI will tell you they don't have jurisdiction, although they do under the Civil Rights Act. A lawyer wouldn't take your case for at least $20K up front and an hourly rate to boot because the possibility of recovery is slight to nill. The cops will make up a report swearing that you saw them outside and then ran inside your house. They followed, suspecting criminal activity, you opened the door which they interpreted as your consent to let them in and, once in, smelled what they thought was Marijuana. Thus, the search ensued although they didn't find any. Besides, you weren't hurt and they didn't damage anything. The Civil Rights Act allows for an action even though there has been no physical damage, but no court or jury would make an award without it. The victim knows that what the police did was wrong, but likely not why. What constitutional right was violated, if any? The primary problem is EDUCATION. What subjects are emphasized in school these days? Math and science and science and math. When funds are short the first victims are our kids as education funding decreases. There are no curricula for history classes that would teach kids what it was like to be victimized by arrogant British soldiers who decided to take over their homes, eat their food, trash their homes and not pay for it. Why did the framers think that the need for militas and guns were worthy of constitutional protections? What's the link between our revolution and the French Revolution? No one knows because we no longer teach it. People learn to write by reading. We no longer require students to reade on their own time and write essay after essay for four, five or six years to learn how to write. I've read the same GAO reports that you did including the one specifying the periodic reports to congress that were not supplied at the direction of the president. Why didn't anyone require Bush to put the wars in the budget? All those "supplemental" appropriations carried with them unrelated amendments giving the executive more and more power. Why didn't the Democrats object? It's because they were afraid of "not supporting our troops". It takes a long time to think through current issues such as health care so the majority just mindlessly adopt the slogans of special interests such as "do you want the government in between you and your doctor"? Where's logic? Insurance companies now stand between our us and our doctors and, worse yet, they are now reducing the selection of doctors we can choose; doctors who work cheap, went to medical schools in third world countries and are culturally ignorant of American culture. In my group plan, my PPO has converted to an EPO (exclusive provider org.) and neither my doctor or any other I trust will work as cheap as the insurance company wants. And, I can no longer get ANY reimbursement if I "go out of network". Prior approval is now required for all medications. And my monthly premium for my group policy went up 68%. It doesn't take an educated genius to compare what is happening to that chart I saw months ago showing that the increasing cost of medical care will bankrupt this country in the not to distant future. Months ago every member of the Party of No flatly stated that we need health care reform. But they have never specified what real reforms they would accept. Sen. McConnell spoke for his party when he stated that his party would vote no on the health care bill REGARDLESS of what provisions were in it. When it is said that a piece of legislation on a common serious matter can never get through congress due to the influence of "special interest groups", such as any health bill, it is an announcement that private moneyed interests have purchased enough congressmen to prevent it. The people in DC talk about special interest groups as a legitimate third body of congress and accept that without any qualms. Physical and moral prostitution have been accepted businesses in DC for years. The McConnells and Boehners of this world don't care about the future, just what they cdan grab for themselves now or after they leave office. (I wonder how much money the Kuwaitis paid George GW Bush for saving their country when he attended a party in his honor immediately after leaving office.) And today our Supreme Court announced it legal for moneyed interests to pay off legislators without legality or limit. We the prople cannot limit the avarice of corporate interest without asking their permission first. (BTW it was President Taft who used the Sherman Act of 1890 to break up the Standard Oil Trust in 1911. Selling off those companies netted Rockefeller enough to make him the richest man in the US - if not world - with an estimated net worth of $318 billion and change before the days of income taxes. Andrew Carnegy was number two by about $100 million in pin money.) In summation, it is physically and mentally impossible for the vast majority of voters to keep themselves informed about what's happening, or will happen, to them as the result of governmental actions. There's too much going on and it's all too complex. Who knows that George Bush spent eight years rewriting the Social Security Regulations to make it almost impossible to be declared disabled based on a mental condition. And now any disabled person's case may be reconsidered if they make ANY money on their own. The regs mislead disabled persons by stating that they can make up to $950/mo and still be considered disabled, but only in another part of the labrynthian regulations does it state that doing so will subject the disabled person subject to medical review -- using the current criteria rather than the standards used when the person was declared disabled. How are people supposed to know that little trick without specifically researching it. Conclusion: Franklin is right. We are now economic slaves to the wealthy 2% of our population who control 95% of the wealth. And our legislators are either among the top 2% or are working hard to get there.

Steve, Chandler, AZ

While I agree with much of what Kurt wrote, I must take exception to a couple of items. Kurt states the Framers feared"the general population, many of which were illiterate, uneducated, transient". Those so-called "illiterates" read and understood the Federalist AND Anti-Federalist papers. Also, the United States of America is a "Constitutional Republic". The Constitution guarantees to each state the same type of government.

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Anonymous    1/12/11


Al, DC
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Al, DC    8/22/14
L. Hanson, Edmonton, Canada

WTF? Are you people out of your minds? Religion (God in this sense) is the basis of ignorance. Has nothing to do with freedom. Mans will is the basis of freedom. Another means to control the masses. Duh?

And why do you keep running back to your blessed Constiution? We have a much better document in Canada: The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Penned by the Greatest Canadian Prime Minister of all time: Piere Eliot Truedeu. Revered around the world as one of the greatest politicians of of all time. And now his son Justin Truedeu will be the next Prime Minister of Canada.

This is a truely wonderful break through for Canada. Good-by to the sick and old...we welcome the new and revitilized nation that we should be.

Robert, St. Emilion, France

Coming from a Deist it was spot on! - God left man to it! and "rights" were man's concerns.

Mike, Norwalk

Kurt from LA, you have to quit reading the progressives party line lies. Original research will show you the level of education of those you speak far exceeded what the government seminaries are now turning out. As to structure, the founders feared the tyranny of democracy far more than anything you wrote. Things like the electoral college was a brilliant concept (nothing of what you wrote). One of many reasons for the electoral college was to make the Head executor of We The People's representatives not beholding to one party or another and not to one person (rich or poor) or to any group of people as there was to be no direct connection. The president was to be neutral and free to execute on the statutes (based on natural law) the people's legislators passed. A directly elected or otherwise democracy does not allow for that level of freedom, liberty, rights protection, law or justice.

jim k, austin tx

Kurt, lengthy tomes like yours will seldom be read.

SCSURFR, La Mirada

I’m not a big fan of Franklin, but I think he got this right in the sense that ignorance on our behalf allows those who profess to be experts to become our masters. When we are lazy to protect our rights and stay informed of the issues (“Fat, drunk and stupid” to quote from the movie Animal House), we allow others to lead us around like a bull on a nose ring. We may think we are going to stud, but more likely to slaughter.

Ron w13, Yachats Or

God calls apostles, prophets, preachers and teachers for the perfecting of the saints. How shall they hear except a preacher be sent ? How shall they know except a teacher be sent ?. How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glade tidings. God is not slack concerning his ministering to men. Well informed and taught to know and prize the rights which God has given. Study to show thyself approved unto God a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the ( word of truth ), the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, you were sealed with holy Spirit of promise. Which is the ( earnest ) of our inheritance until the redemption of the ( purchased possession ), unto the praise of his glory. The thirteen steps to liberty and freedom well known among those who study the Day Star, the Rock upon which the republic rest. The eye of God which guides us and one chain by which we number our days. This to be taught with all authority by those before ordained to do so. I am at liberty. To embrace a mystery that must be reveled through teaching. The beholding of the eye is better than the wandering of the desire .


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