45+ Wise, Wry, and Surprisingly Timely Benjamin Franklin Quotes

Ben Franklin is one of the most influential people in history. Read on for his best quotes that display his unique wisdom, keen intelligence, and edgy humor.

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was a man of many talents. He was a brilliant scientist, inventor, writer, diplomat, and humorist who left his mark on the world through his creative drive, intellectual prowess, and unique sense of humor. 

Growing from a poor, uneducated runaway to one of the most notable historical figures of all time (and the only non-president to appear on US currency), Franklin lived an extraordinary life that continues to have an impact. His inventions and discoveries make our daily lives possible; his political work and passion helped form America as we know it; and his iconic quotes and sayings are world-famous, some even becoming household phrases. Read on for Ben Franklin’s epochal quotes from his autobiography, correspondences, and, of course, Poor Richard’s Almanac

General Wisdom and Life Lessons

Benjamin Franklin was a wise man, even in his youth. His extensive and sensible advice for a well-lived life remains relevant and applicable. 

1. “Wish not so much to live long as to live well.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

2. “He does not possess wealth; it possesses him.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

3. “There are no gains, without pains.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

4. “In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

5. “It is better to take many injuries than to give one.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

6. “If you wou’d not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

7. “Lost time is never found again.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

8. “Human felicity is produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen, as by little advantages that occur every day.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

9. “Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

10. “Haste makes waste.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

11. “Don’t throw stones at your neighbors, if your own windows are glass.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

12. “For life is a kind of chess, in which we have often points to gain, and competitors or adversaries to contend with, and in which there is a vast variety of good and ill events, that are, in some degree, the effect of prudence, or the want of it.” – Benjamin Franklin, The Morals of Chess

13. “Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

14. “A true friend is the best possession.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

15. “He that's content, hath enough; He that complains, has too much.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

16. “So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

17. “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

18. “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

Quotes on Integrity 

Honesty, humility, decency—Benjamin Franklin was a big proponent of simply being a good person. The following quotes reflect his ethical standards and moral beliefs. 

19. “Don't value a man for the Quality he is of, but for the Qualities he possesses.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

20. “Great Modesty often hides great Merit.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

21. “As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

22. “Having been poor is no shame, but being ashamed of it, is.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

23. “Who is strong? He that can conquer his bad habits.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

24. “Nothing was useful which was not honest.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

25. “Would you live with ease, Do what you ought, and not what you please.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

26. “I grew convinc'd that truth, sincerity and integrity in dealings between man and man were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

27. “Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

28. “What more valuable than Gold? Diamonds. Than Diamonds? Virtue.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

29. “Speak little, do much.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

30. “When you are good to others, you are best to yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

Quotes on Liberty and Government 

Franklin definitely had something to say about liberty, freedom, and government. His revolutionary words acted as a catalyst to the founding of the United States, and still apply to politics today. 

31. "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power." – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

32. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin, from Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

33. "Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." – Benjamin Franklin, from Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

34. "Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech." – Benjamin Franklin, from Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

Funny Quotes

Along with his many serious talents, Ben Franklin proved to be a brilliant humorist. His hilarious one-liners and amusing quips reveal his satirical view on society and keen insight into human nature. Here’s a sampling.

35. “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

36. “He's a fool that makes his doctor his heir.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

37. “Teach your child to hold his tongue; he'll learn fast enough to speak.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

38. “Visits should be short, like a winters day, Lest you're too troublesome hasten away.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

39. “It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection... I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

40. “Love your Enemies, for they tell you your Faults.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

41. “The poor have little, beggars none, the rich too much, enough not one.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

42. “To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

43. “Better slip with foot than tongue.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

44. “A man being sometimes more generous when he has but a little money than when he has plenty, perhaps thro' fear of being thought to have but little.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

45. “He that lies down with dogs shall rise up with fleas.” – Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac

46. “Reading was the only amusement I allow’d myself.” – Benjamin Franklin, Autobiography Collection: Henry Ford, Nikola Tesla, and Benjamin Franklin

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