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

Famous Benjamin Franklin Quote

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin
~ Benjamin Franklin

reply of the Pennsylvania Assembly to the governor, November 11, 1755.
Later, the motto of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, c. 1759

Ratings and Comments

E Archer, NYC

Indeed! Life is a risk -- better to be free to make mistakes than to be compelled to be 'safe' -- frisked, examined, watched, and told what we may or may not do 'for our own safety.'

Robert Kennerly, Lusby Maryland

I would hope that others would share in this insight. With everything that is going on today, it seems that our freedoms have eroded at an alarming rate. The country that I defended for 21 years is not same country any longer. I would give anything to get her back.

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Entreri    6/16/06

The loss of freedoms will only get worse. Are you going to tolerate the new era of facist America? Or will you fight for the constitution? Are you ready for a civil war?.... because it will come to war.

Mike, Norwalk

Said so very very very well.

Logan, Memphis, TN

A thought lost to most of American's today.

Mike, Mount Holly, NC

My favorite quote. Those who don't like this quote don't truly love liberty. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but it seems that our government always falls down on the side of restricting liberty. That's usually the easy way to address a problem. Could we not be more creative, think a little harder, and solve problems without destroying liberty? Is the only solution to terrorists hijacking or blowing up planes to stop honest, law abiding citizens from bringing pocket knives, scissors, and fingernail clippers on airplanes? It seems like every response to criminal acts is to take away liberty from everybody ... punish the law-abiding citizen along with the criminal, and if you don't like it, you are supporting the criminals. Is there no way to maintain a safe, ordered society without taking away the liberties of all?

Robert, Sarasota

This should be printed on the front page of every news paper and as a precursor to any political statement on TV. We must remain watchful that America remains a democracy and doesn't slip into fascism.

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EGL, LA    10/31/06

The most gregious betrayal of this principle is from those who say, "well, I am a law abiding citizen and therefore I have nothing to hide so I don't care if my rights to privacy are violated. I'll never be arrested so I don't need to worry about habeus corpus" Slippery slope.....slippery slope.

MIchael, Houston, TX

I have to give ol' Ben a hearty thumbs up on this...We should notice that he said "give up ESSENTIAL liberties for a LITTLE TEMPORARY SAFETY" I must ask David's question of how Ben would handle the realities of today. The question of today is not whether or not we are free to drive without safety belts or motorcycle helmets, but whether we will be free of being murdered by terrorists among us. And unfortunately, I have yet to hear someone who is bemoaning the "creeping fascism" of today give an answer to that. They are here friends--they are HERE!!! They are among us. What pray-tell is your answer to this question? As I see it, and its just me, we have basic choices now--just like we always have: either we will choose sacrifice all of our freedoms,or will we make those who would murder us sacrifice theirs'? The analogy to the liberal criminal policy of some years ago is applicable here--same choices. Do we keep criminals behind bars, or do we let them loose and make good and honest people live behind (burglar) bars? So, lets all get on the same page--how do we handle the terrorists among us and stay a free people? That is the question of the day! And to make out like it is not being asked is not an option.

Rip V Winkle, USA

Hi. Great questions from Michael in TX and Mike in NC. I believe we are all concerned about our liberties...ALL OF US. The question remains--what do we do about those demented murderers who want to kills us? The solution of the Netherlands and France is not a good one as they will not tell us. Do we have to make the same mistakes they did, or can we learn from someone else's mistakes. As it is well said--Experience keeps a dear school but a fool will learn from no other." Lets learn from those who have been dealing with this problem and done so successfully--maybe Israel? or someone else maybe? What do you think?.

E Archer, NYC

Michael from Houston, Hypothetically, if I really wanted to kill you, I could and there would be little you could do except defend yourself which you may or may not do successfully. There is nothing in the Constitution that can make a man honest, kind, or smart. We live among others with various attitudes and approaches in life. Learning how to live together in peace is certainly something life is about. When the means used to prevent violence through 'preemptive action' violates more rights than it protects, the law becomes perverted from justice. It is precisely this consciousness that feeds tyranny -- "get them before they get you, because they are gonna get ya." But often 'they' are the wrong people. The end does not justify the means. The Twin Towers were bombed and now all of us are treated as suspects in order to prevent something like that from happening again. Man, what a bunch of cowards we have become -- 'oh, please don't hit me, I'll give you anything you want...'

Robert, Sarasota

E. Acher and EGL well said - are our liberty's, even in the smallest way, effected by the likelihood of us being killed by a car, cigarettes, air travel, drinking, etc. etc? (and, I don't mean car seat belts, and not smoking in public places); yet we are far more likely to be killed in an accident, second hand smoke, food poisoning, and gluttony. Michael your question is by no means a simple one to answer if it were then Nations would be sharing that information. It's time we start thinking out of the box. Obviously going to war against a despot or a megalomaniac may bring peace. But, going to war against terrorists is a different matter – we must start thinking like them, we must understand their root course, we must see what other options are out there to bring about non-violence, we must stop our usual strategy of throwing more and more arms at the problem and deploy sound and well thought out program of reparation and intelligence. We must have diplomatic relations with terrorist organizations; we must start listening instead of shooting. Above all we must stop what we are doing; a good start would be to have a Department of Peace that has as much power as the department of War.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Rip asks, "What do we DO about demented murderers who want to kill us?" Defend yourself. That's what you DO or it may be R.I.P. for you. I train with and carry a handgun for self-defense, to be a survivor, because I refuse to be a victim. In addition to violent criminals, guns will defend you from viscous dogs, rabid raccoons, and more!

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RVW    10/31/06

Ditto Joe In every state a person has a right to defend themselves and you do not have to wait until a shot misses you.... A Department of Peace!!!??? Is there really someone on this board who thinks now is the time to sing "Kum bah yah" with Osama and his ilk? When watching someone being beheaded is not enough to convince someone that we are dealing with evil...well, they are not going to be convinced. And as always, there are those who get it..and who are putting their lives on the line so they can quibble over how many angels one puts on a pin head. Sad. Really sad. Thomas Paine said it: Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

When we stoop to the same lows as the terrorists we become the terrorists... and we have seen the enemy... it is it us. On 2001.09.12 we had the high ground and were free to pursue the criminals (past and future) with a clear moral compass. Now we are breeding them in Iraq and through-out much of the rest of the world... and rutting in the sewage with them because we have become them. The road back will be a long and hard one. Those who believe in prayer should pray for us all rather than praying for Armageddon.

David L Rosenthal

No need to pray for Armageddon; it's a given.

Robert, Sarasota

Well said Reston - they still don't get it and never will. Let them rise up in some euphoric transcendental rapture - I want to be with the real people on Earth.

Mike, Mount Holly, NC

Here's a real and concrete solution ... instead of making airline passengers sheep who are at the mercy of anyone smart enough to figure out a way to smuggle a weapon on board a plane, allow passengers to go armed. It amazes me that we are willing to put so much faith in police officers and soldiers to be armed anywhere, but the thought of an "ordinary" citizen being armed scares people to death. Like Joe, I train with firearms more often than most law enforcement officers and soldiers, but I can't be trusted to carry a gun where they can. They are just people too. What makes them so trustworthy ... a uniform? Read this: also read and here is a good proposal

Michael, Houston, TX

Ok First of all, I want to thank everyone here for their posts...and I mean all of you. said "they don't get it..." Ok...I want you and those who agree with you to convince me. Understand that I have fought as a youg boy, and now as a man in my late '50's and bear the scars for defending your liberty, and friend, if there is one thing that scares me it is government--believe me when I tell you this. Only government can take them away. They have the use of force. OK--are we on the same page? and anyone else, Reston, E Archer, tell me how you would deal with murderers among us who look just like all of us. Tell me what you will do, with a Department of Peace, when someone says, "Frankly, I think you are only worth killing...adn we will kills hundreds of thousands of we can." Then what? sense, I could not agree with you more...really. But in another, we are not in ordinary times. So tell me, how do you balance this liberty and privacy and morality and all those things we all so treasure, with the imperatives of where we are now? I look forward to your answer.

E Archer, NYC

Michael, if we are to be a nation of laws, and not of the arbitrary power of those who govern, the People are going to have to start being responsible for a great many things they have been trusting others to do. We should be armed and know how and why to use weapons in our defense. The battle is and has always been for the hearts and minds of the People. America's history is full of hypocrisies, and as we sow, so shall we reap. Some believe we are permanently lost and only the end of the world will rid evil from us. On the other hand, there are a great many with hope and honor and the willingness to fight the good fight for goodness sake alone. That includes taking a stand against tyranny. For some, it will mean death -- others may however reap the harvest of their sacrifice. We deal with murderers the same way we would have ourselves dealt with -- I do not know anyone who would like to be imprisoned without warrant, hearing, or trial. We cannot take shortcuts when using collective power to achieve ignoble ends. We deal with murderers as we must -- we defend ourselves against them, we hunt down the suspects, give them a fair trial, and let a jury judge the facts and the law. A Department of Peace is unnecessary -- once again, it is up to the People in their individual capacities to live according to the 'golden rule.' Sometimes war is necessary -- but it must not be left up to a single man. The checks and balances of the Constitution are the ONLY protection we have against tyranny. Unfortunately, America (and the rest of the world, too) has not lived up to its professed creed. We have allowed our country to indenture itself to foreign powers, bankrupted the Republic, transformed our courts into commercial enterprises, laden us with progressive taxes, scared us into every armed invasion, killed millions and millions of civilians, rigged our ballot boxes, lie and lie and lie and lie. It most likely will be too late when the rebellions begin -- if they are armed rebellions, we will likely endure more police state tactics. I suggest non-violent non-cooperation with tyranny. March on Washington for the Jury -- the last protection against legislative tyranny. Stop borrowing, live within your means, and respect each other. Obviously, there is so much more -- but without the consciousness of independence and compassion (a basic trust of the process of life), we will only see adversaries. Courage, that's what we need more than safety, Courage.

David L Rosenthal

Archer wrote: "Some believe we are permanently lost and only the end of the world will rid evil from us." I see that as a distortion of the issue. We are not permanently lost. Some people will be permanently lost. God's kingdom will rid the world of evil. The end of the world is not the end of the earth, but the end of the worldly system of rule that perpetuates evil on the earth. That is the biblical explanation, the way it my be read if one took the time and care to read what is actually written. It also takes courage to tell the truth and not to distort reality, even a reality with which you do not sympathize.

E Archer, NYC

That is your belief, David. It is a defeatist view, however. To depend upon super-natural power is to deny the very real individual power we posses and are responsible for wielding. Hitler and other despots used Christianity to further their power -- with the support of their citizens. The Bible isn't going to save us -- Christians are still human with human frailties and weaknesses -- they hold no exclusive morality or title to Heaven which is God's to grant. God helps those that help themselves -- isn't it about time we did something instead of wait for Armageddon? (or push us one more step closer to suicide) Yes, I saw that on a biker t-shirt: "Kill 'em all, let God sort 'em out.", Newfield, Maine

I think that if the Founding Fathers were all brought back here tomorrow, we'd have ourselves another Revolutionary War by Thanksgiving.

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Entreri    1/18/07

A lot of us still need to filter the BS. Or is the truth just to horrible to believe? You will still believe everything you see on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and FOX NEWS because most of you are good little zombies. But others are aware of what's going on and in due time will stand for what is right, and if not then America is dead. And we watch as the Constitution is stripped away, we fall into doublethink, loose our morals, and enslave ourselves. I know none of you want to see this. Read the Constitution. Don't talk about defending freedom if you don't know what's there. Defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Stop being good Democrats...........Stop being good Republicans.........Start being good Americans. Please don't take my words as personal attacks.......and I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

Phil, Canada

This is my favorite quote. Although we can be sure old Ben never forsaw the age we live in, I still feel this quote is apt. Homeland security, the Patriot Act and all the other measures we've taken to "protect" ourselves from Osama and all the other Boogey men out there have significantly reduced our privacy and personal freedom. We now expect to wait in lines for hours, go through several checkpoints and take our shoes off just to board a plane. We now accept that we can't take a bottle of mouthwash or nail scissors on board because they could be used to hijack the aircraft. If all terror threats disappered tomorrow, would we see an end to security screening. Of Course Not! The Office of Homeland Security and the whole Security Industry would invent new threats to justify their existance. We either take Ben's advice to heart or accept the fact that we're nothing more than worker insects blindly following directions without thought. Personal privacy and freedom have a cost, they're something you have to be willing to defend. So if loosening the travel restrictions and removing the governments ability to collect your personal information means it's a little easier for terrorists to attack, I'm willing to accept that to keep my Liberty.

paul, Va.
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paul, Va.    1/30/08

Buy your guns , ASAP at your next local gun show and get training by pros or friends. Yes even you anti-gun folks. Don't be scared it's just a tool, next false flag= police state= NWO. I am always called the paranoid nut buy my conservetive relatives, hey maybe I am, If we don't demand what's going on, we deserve what we get.

William Preston, Auckland, NZ.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Collected Works of Franklin edited by Jared Sparks, in volume VII there is a letter that Franklin wrote to his friend David Hume 27 September, 1760, in which he says, in response to Hume's praise of the Historical Review, that it was "not written by me, nor any part of it." So I guess the adage of, "if a lie is repeated enough, it will be perceived as the truth" is correct? So we continue to parrot this mis-truth... When in fact: The Founding Fathers knew from experience that Congress could not keep secrets. In 1776, Benjamin Franklin and his four colleagues on the Committee of Secret Correspondence unanimously concluded that they could not tell the Continental Congress about covert assistance being provided by France to the American Revolution, because "we find by fatal experience that Congress consists of too many members to keep secrets." Benjamin Franklin also wrote: "Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead."

Nancy, Marion, OH

Some small liberties must be sacrificed for the greater good and protection of the Republic. Being thoroughly checked at an airport doesn't seem to me a thing of concern. The threat from within is great, and THAT threat is the one that will make us unable to withstand any threat from without. America is more and more embracing adolesence as a way of life for all ages, with the government supporting them, and henceforth, the government grows, liberties are reduced. We, the people, can no longer protect ourselves because we, the people, are giving the government all power, which was never, ever, meant to be.

James, Nocona

Nice quote, but nobody was more surprised to hear it was a Franklin quote than Franklin himself. He didn't say it.

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Anonymous    12/1/09

Excellent, Bushie should have read more Ben Franklin.

Mike, Norwalk

Liberty is here addressed as essential - thus the representative republic. Liberty; "The power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature." Those that represent are to act in enhancing and protecting each individual sovereign's inalienable right through administering order, at law and justice. Those that choose to abide compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, governmental larceny, etc. for security or any other reason have chosen the gods of the Amorites in whose land they dwell - rejecting law, order, justice, peace, prosperity and safety. As to the laws of nature and of nature's God, those so choosing such despotism neither have liberty or security by relationship to natural law and realization of existence. The murderers and terrorists spoken of above are only symptoms or results of choosing other than liberty. A choice of liberty includes an ordering at natural law, personal responsibility, and a lawful pursuit of justice.


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