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

Benjamin Franklin Quote

“All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin
~ Benjamin Franklin

letter to Robert Morris, 25 December 1783, Ref: Franklin Collected Works, Lemay, ed., 1082

Ratings and Comments

Bill O'Neill, Holland, PA

This quote contains some very rotten ideas about rights. Only Individual people have rights. The public has power and rights are the opposite of public power just as democracy is the enemy of freedom. .

Robert, Sarasota

You expect otherwise from me Right! - A great Welshman


Ben Franklin ~~~ a sage among wise men

Sam, Frisco City, Alabama

Mr. Franklin is suggesting that you have the right as an individual to be a hermit and hoard your property but as a social being there are times when decisions must be made to serve the greater good. If you so decide then why should you benefit from the continuous work of others? I happen to agree with him.

Bob, Eugene Or

One has to remember that he was raised a Quaker.

E Archer, NYC

The 'commonwealth' is a noble ideal. Once a town or city is incorporated (as is the practice) the citizens of the town must obey the regulations of the town charter. The charter is to be managed according to common law and thus cannot supercede the natural rights of the people, landowners or not. The sticky point has always been who has the power to decide the common good at the expense of an individual's property. In Franklin's time, there was still unincorporated land in which to settle, hunt, and survive 'like a savage', but today there are no such places. So how does one lift off the yoke of the society today? Raising one's own food and being independent is hardly encouraged in today's society -- no, today, we are encouraged to be wards of the state and to trust those in government to look after our well being from cradle to grave. Notice that the federal government has now laid claim to all the unincorporated wildlands -- another usurpation of the highest order.

Mike, Norwalk

Said well Archer. The principle is good but the application flawed. Today, most any home in suburbia can (even an apt.) produce much food via hydroponics and other techniques.

Bruce, 'Bama

Bob I think if you check it out further you will find that Ben Franklin was raised in Boston or its environs. No Quakers there. He and his publishing brother ran afoul of the thought police there and he immigrated to Philadelphia in 1723 at the age 17. He was the most erudite, and urbane of the founders and kind of irreverent when it came to religion, but a known genius even in Europe for science, invention, wit and political acumen. I much prefer the quotations on this post to the rash of "private property worship" posts we have been having. Archer I prefer the public owning the wildlands than have individuals restricting all access. Did you know that you can camp in the national forests free and virtually uninhindered? As far as lifting societal or governmental yokes it is in most peoples own minds. One can march off into the national forests anytime you choose. You only are suppose to move your camp every two weeks. I think that many have lost the ability to think independently or out of the box and often hem themselves in to thinking they are controlled by society and government much more than they really are. Most prefer the comforts and perks of society and the safety of doing what they think everbody else is doing. May a year ago I created and adventure for myself and boated fifty miles up the Chattahoochee River. No one does that. Most anglers go a mile from where they launch. I and my dog saw wild pig and numerous alligators. A sight and an experience few in this country know about or have experienced. It is out there but few go for it. It is great to push the envelope and chart your own course.

E Archer, NYC

Bruce, your ignorance is bountiful. You have simply made an argument for being a complete tool of the state. As for living in a national park and moving one's tent every two weeks, well, that is not exactly what the founders had in mind. The federal government was NEVER supposed to own land except for a FEW small parks and monuments (in Washington DC) -- not millions of hectares of wild lands. Property taxes are a farce and imply that we must rent our land from the government in exchange for community services -- it is forced servitude and prohibited by the Constitution. That is utter nonsense and completely unlawful in a common law republic. You need to make the shift from dependence and glorification of the state to independence and the glorification of personal responsibility. The commonwealth is NOT the government. Do some real research before parroting the party line. Camping and canoeing is not a privilege to be conferred by government. You are talking about 'recreation' and entertainment -- I am talking about the rights to the land under my feet, bought and paid for by my own labor and production and supposedly protected under common law as MINE -- not yours or subject to rent from the government. Americans have been indoctrinated into socialist practices as the only way a society can survive. You can tell a leftist by their desire to take away the properties of others for the common good -- usually because they have no property of their own and have resigned to the fact that to work for it would take too long -- as those that have acquired it have. Selfish, slaves to the state.

Jack, Green, OH

Franklin recognized that great weath is the product of society, not just the individual. I recall hearing Bill Gates' father express the same idea about his son's fortune. He said he could never have made it truly on his own. It derived from the effort of many others and should be shared. It was in regard to the estate tax which some people like to call a "death" tax.

Mike, Norwalk

Many confuse materialistic abundance with freedom, licensed or limited stewardship (as averse to ownership) and mobility as liberty, and the collective's products and services superior to individual sovereign rights. The representatives of the Sovereign's Republic are elected to find the best way to protect the individual's life, liberty and property, NOT to compel compliance, create license, commit larceny against the sovereign's person or property, persecute through victimless crimes. etc..

Bruce, 'Bama

I wrote a long answer but it did not post properly. So here is a short version. Archer you are in a fairy tale world. Their are wilderness adventures if you would have them. You are not stuck in the burbs where you think you are cornered by the "government". If you want to live independently subscribe to "Backwoods Country Home". Inheritance is welfare for lazy people you care about. Notoriously gotten wealth has done wonderful things for our country. Tobacco money from slavery paid for the American Revolution. Carnegies abuse of steel workers made him the richest man in the world and he gave it all to charity for libraries. Bill Gates is on the top of the list of "Americans For Responsible Wealth" which campaigns for the retention of Inheritance Tax. Death Tax is a term started by a rich California family who campaigns for elimination of the inheritance tax and a term picked up by Republicans for their dictionary. They have their own you know. The Feds through forsight and manifest destiny purchased and owned and still do the vast portion of this country. Archer have you never heard of Louisiana Purchase or of Alaska. You are my friend in a fantasy world of your own making and going down hill fast.

Bruce, 'Bama

Archer if you want real acreage and to live unto yourself and feel like a king I know where you can do that. I can put you on to acreage at $200 dollars an acre. You must buy the whole parcel though. It is 25,500 acres for just $5,000,000. So anyway stop carping that the government owns it all and there is no hope for someone like you. I feel there is no hope for your philosophical and psychological underpinings but if you would buy this property maybe you would shut up about those things for awhile at least.

Anonymous, Cave City

"The federal government was NEVER supposed to own land except for a FEW small parks and monuments (in Washington DC)" The federal govt. is supposed to possess exclusive jurisdiction over the federal district, "forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards and other needful BUILDINGS" (such as prisons?). Before the fedgov can have exclusive jurisdiction over land within a state it must first PURCHASE (not confiscate) the land, must have said jurisdiction ceded by act of the state legislature, accepted by congress, and it must be EXCLUSIVE (not JOINT) jurisdiction. National forests, parks, grasslands, etc., are held by the fedgov as an "ordinary proprietor," that is, just like any other landowner. Federal kopz on such territory are private guards, not public police, unless they are commissioned by proper authority within each state (deputized by the sheriff, commissioned by the city police or by the state govt.). Many of them work for the Federal Protective Service, a bureau of the GSA. In Idaho (perhaps in other states) the national forests belong to the state of Idaho, not to the fedgov (USDA/Forest Service). The FS merely administrates the land. According to the Act of Admission (1890) of Idaho all lands held by the fedgov were transferred to the state of Idaho EXCEPT such as fell into the category of "forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards and other needful buildings." Jefferson expressed his suspicion that the Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional but signed the bill anyway. So much for Tom's principles. Too big an opportunity to let the constitution and his oath get in the way!

Anonymous, Cave City

Ole Ben sounds kinds socialistic, huh? Whatever community project a majority of my neighbors (who vote) want they can force me to support by offering to drive me out of my home at gunpoint. Socialist schools, parks, whatever they want, rights be damned. They (or their hired gunmen) outgun me, so they can do as they please, as long as they sing about their wonderful ideals of liberty and just-us.

Anonymous, Cave City

"Franklin recognized that great weath is the product of society, not just the individual..." Wealth is the product of the sun, the air, the water, and the soil, plus human ingenuity. The collective (an imaginary - fictitious - entity) cannot produce wealth without the efforts of those individuals who compose it. This "collective" is not the state, which purpose is to take away individuals' lives, liberty and property, but any group of two or more people working together to a common goal. The state is founded upon FORCE, not on voluntary consent. Most wealth is produced by the common efforts of individuals VOLUNTARILY. Some wealth may be produced by slaves under their master's whip, but they have little incentive but avoiding the whip to produce anything more than they consume.

Anonymous, Cave City

"You can tell a leftist by their desire to take away the properties of others for the common good -- usually because they have no property of their own and have resigned to the fact that to work for it would take too long" Leftists - socialists-communists-fascists are essentially slavers.

Bruce, Alabama

Anonymous you certainly live at the correct address. I also assume you live in a cave. The territory called the Louisiana Purchase belonged to or was stolen by Spain who sold their stolen propety to France who had a serious fight on their hands with England and needed some money so they sold it to the wise men (lol) residing in sin city, Washington, DC (lol). What does this all say about government owing property? All these rightists who say that government cannot or should not own property are in the land of wishful thinking. Since the US bought the land of Louisiana and Alaska, under the sacred natural laws and rightis, espoused by the property worhipers, I assume that it is the US's right to do what they wish to do with their property. Is there any difference between leftist slavers, plantation slavers, or capitalist slavers. Anonymous how did Idaho acquire the National Forest and why do they call it a National Forest if it is a state forest. I see state forests and national forests all over this land, am I wrong to assume that there is a difference? Is their more intrinsic value or admiration to be given to a state forest rather than to a national forest, and is there more admiration to be given to state officers than to national officers. I see so little admiration on this site for the concepts of we or us. Like I mean the public house, the city commons, places of public gatherings, parks etcetera have played such an important part in the fabric of this nation but all I see is a worship of the concepts of "private" "me", and no sensitivity to the concepts "public", "we", "us". Are rightists by nature or necessity misanthropes (one who entertains aversion to or distrust of his fellow men".) Are cities, towns, and villages that have created public places all leftists? I think you are a sick man Anonymous.

Bruce, 'Bama

The Idaho forests comprise 22.3 M. acres 75% is owned by the US Forest Service, 5% by corporations, 10% private and 10% state. When Idaho became a state the Feds gave the state 3.6 million acres which was immediately placed into 9 endowment funds for things like the University Fund, Penitentiary Fund etcetera. LET US KEEP ARE FACTS STRAIGHT rather than by rewriting history to satisy some pshco need you have to attack what you perceive to be big government (Timothy McVeigh's style). All ownership of property in this country started with some governmental authority and then it became distributed to private owners. Wm Penn was given what became Penna, Massachusetts Bay Colony was given by charter from England etc. We know about Louisianna and Alaska. Uncle Sam gave land away via the land rush in Nebraska and Kansas. Gave land to the railroad companies. Uncle Sam purchased land that was destroyed by private owners through bad farming practices in southern Illinois (Shawnee National Forest) and turpentine refining in the Florida panhandle (Apalachicola National Forest). I think many individuals on this site need to show a little more Respect, Love and Admiration for Uncle Sam for his foresight, attention to land management and conservation and his generosity with his lands that he purchased legally fair and square. I have faith that in 100 years, when most all of us will be gone, Uncle Sam who is now 220 years old (counting from the Constitution 1787) will still be the biggest and best land owner in America. Long live Uncle Sam. (The statistics about Idaho were taken from Another site about the Idaho endowments is from Idaho Department of Lands their tele. 208-334-0200.)

Mike, Norwalk

Bruce, spoken like a good goose stepping well programed neocon, you get a giant gold star. Alaska, you don't know about. In years past, I worked with different Alaskan Indian tribes in trying to correct the history books because all involved knew they weren't going to get their land back. Russia only had and claimed fishing rights in Alaskan waters as was by contract with the Tlingit and other tribes, the same as the Dutch and others. Russia was the last non-bankrupt fishing interest in the area but was almost gone also. This blog is not the place to go into why Lincoln paid the money to Russia but with all the carefully crafted illusionary documents, the US took over de facto rule of the whole of Alaska. Large news papers in CA, NY, etc. have printed info on such (I would give references but its been over 20 years and I no longer have that paper work) but history is written by the victors. Further the federal government brought in an African American from DC and established him as the head of all the Tlingit tribes. To this day, several Tlingit tribes have never signed a treaty and were not included in the Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act. AND, today it doesn't matter if I purchase cheap or expensive property, I still have to pay rent to the government and though I may camp on many government lands I could not provide food for myself without a license.

Bruce, 'Bama

Thanks Mike I appreciate it. At least I tell the truth rather then imaginative literature like Mr. Anonymous that "national forests are state forests and up is down" etcetera. Lincoln was dead when Alaska was purchased. So you have proved your right wing credentials by invoking another conspiracy theory that you can't talk about. Spooky, spooky stuff. As long as all international bodies, governments etcetera recognize the US ownership of Alaska nothing else matters. I am sure you are correct about growing food on national forest property. It is not for squatting but can be used very freely and generously for recreational purposes. Most of all taxes I know of on property are assessed and collected by local county or city governments. If you really don't want to pay taxes I think you should take Helorats advice to Robert and move to another country. DC put African Americans in charge of the southern states after the war also, I fail to see your point here. There is no license to grow marijuana Mike why don't you try that. It seems like you and Archer want to live like you know wild men, if that is your hang up, yeah I pretty much agree with you that it may be hard to do. Few can pull off the Grizzly Adams thing these days. However 100 acre parcels and less are readily available throughout America put up your cabin and go for it. But you are absolutely right the local tax man will be looking for his pound of flesh and they do not call it rent, they call in taxes and it goes to educate you neighbors kids. Education is pretty much compulsory all over the world. If you don't like that idea get a ride on the next space shuttle and don't come back, maybe you will be happy out thataway. Why not go to the northwest territories or somethin.

warren, olathe

I think we need to ask Ben what he meant by his quote. I doubt that he was giving his approval of government confiscation of property on a whim.

Miles, Illinois

Warren: This quote is part of a letter. If you read the paragraphs that come before it, you will see that that is exactly what he meant - in Franklin's words, "even to the last farthing".

Bob, Carol Stream

WE THE PEOPLE can conscript you into the armed forces and force you to defend this country with your life. Or deprive you of your freedom if you refuse to do so. You are not excluded from the draft if you have no property. Yet those who have property would not have that property without the sacrifice of those forced to protect them. Without our society of laws it would be anarchy. Ownership would be determined by ones ability to defend and protect their property, which is what living among the Savages means. If you don't want to live that way there are dues to be paid and obligations to be met to support the society that protects you from the savages. Sometimes it could mean individuals losing their life or their property. You are paid for your time in service and extra benefits if you get killed. And if your property is taken for a reason other than penalty, you are paid a fair market price. Society pays you for your goods or service, you are just obligated to take what they offer. And sometimes that individual is you. If you don't want to do your part in supporting the society that provides the means for a civilized existence, leave the area that benefits from the influence of the society. Or live on the fringes of the society avoiding responsibility and reaping the benefits and paying a penalty when caught. I enjoy the benefits of living in this society of the United States and am willing to pay 39% of my income over $250,000 to support this society.

Trish, Overland Park

There will always be the extremists who resent, reject and fight any restraints to their individual rights and freedoms. They will not or cannot understand the principle of the social exchange that citizens make...we agree to forego some freedoms in exchange for an orderly society with laws governing us. Extremists appear to want total impossibility in a society that wants order and predictability. Unfortunately they mistakenly focus their anger on the Government. Benjamin Franklin had the correct values.

ben, havanna

Ben Franklin never said this

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Yes, Ben Franklin DID say this. Here is one of dozens on online sources:

Paul Henderson, Saugerties, NY

As to the public lands: the main ( if not only ) reason they came under auspices of the Federal government was precisely BECAUSE of private abuses of natural resources - mainly over lumbering and completely improper forest practices. This in turn led to National Parks to preserve and protect so yes, I'll take the public ownership and stewardship over private "ownership" entitlements any day.

Dennis, Hamburg

Gee. Nobody mentioned 'the tragedy of the commons.'
Of course, that concept is invalid and 'if we could all just get along' things would work out. Right?

Ronw13, Oregon

"All the property that is necessary to a man, for the conservation of the individual and the propagation of the species, is his Natural Right, which None can justly Deprive [plunder] him of:" Chophshiy liberty, economic liberty, Freedom from bondage and tax, at your pleasure, Hearth and home shall not be taxed, plundered from the individual.  The natural law of capitalism affords this opportunity, the individual potential, for self worth. Befitting for the day, "Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger." Prov 5:10 kjb 


Get a Quote-a-Day!

Liberty Quotes sent to your mail box daily.