Benjamin Franklin

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

This statement was used as a motto on the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania (1759) which was attributed to Franklin in the edition of 1812, but in a letter of September 27, 1760 to David Hume, he states that he published this book and denies that he wrote it, other than a few remarks that were credited to the Pennsylvania Assembly, in which he served.

The phrase itself was first used in a letter from that Assembly dated November 11, 1755 to the Governor of Pennsylvania. An article on the origins of this statement here includes a scan that indicates the original typography of the 1759 document, which uses an archaic form of “s”:

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

Researchers now believe that a fellow diplomat by the name of Richard Jackson is the primary author of the book. With the information thus far available the issue of authorship of the statement is not yet definitely resolved, but the evidence indicates it was very likely Franklin, who in the Poor Richard’s Almanack of 1738 is known to have written a similar proverb: “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.”

13 Responses to “Thoſe who would give up Essential Liberty for a Little Temporary Safety and Deserve Neither”


  1. 1 anthony April 3, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Sadly, this statement is all too true of today’s situation in which Congress has passed tyrannous legislation in the wake of 9/11 (see the numerous posts on the page “Tyranny” on this site) under the pretext of protecting America from “terror”.

    • 2 Anonymous March 22, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      And now has passed the tyrannous health care reform legislation under Obama.

      • 3 Anonymous October 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm

        whoever anonymous is, shut the fuck up. you’re a fascist faggot that should have been killed at birth. i don’t agree with the democrats or republicans, but i do agree that every citizen should have the right to health care. i guess that’s a little too “tyrannical” for you.

      • 4 lstark56 February 16, 2012 at 2:48 am

        In accordance with the Preamble of the Constitution, “We the PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union (than the “Articles of Confederation”), establish JUSTICE (as opposed to the injustices committed by the Crown), ensure domestic TRANQUILITY (with good Governance), provide for the common defence “(note, no caps), promote the general WELFARE (caring for those of us who are in need at the expense to those who use the better part of the benefits provided by the Government), and secure the BLESSINGS of LIBERTY, to ourselves and to our POSTERITY (which will happen when the previous are part of our citizen’s expectations), do ordain and establish this CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES.”

        Thomas Jefferson wrote into his “Declaration of Independence” ,”… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life (and the health to have the LIFE to return benefit to their Nation), Liberty (and the Justice that makes LIBERTY possible), and the pursuit of Happiness (and the education to pursue that HAPPINESS in doing profitable work). —”

        These have been taken, bit by bit, by administrations as far back as forty or so years. If you want tyrannies, look at the puppet despots WE have put into power! If health-care is a tyranny, look to most of the other “free” Nations around the world. Even the enemy of Cuba has public health-care.

        It is the commercial Insurance Industry that takes your “Personally Identifiable Information” to sell it (for more profits that the premium payers do not see) to the BIG PHARMA corporations to make more drugs and test them on an unsuspecting populace that is the COMMERCIAL TYRANNY. A Federal system would be more secure, and able to ASK about volunteering for testing without coercion from “WE THE PEOPLE…

  2. 5 Michael Tim February 28, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I love your site!

    _____________________
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  3. 6 anonymous January 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    whoever the second anonymous is, your wrong, the first anonymous is right, and i’m sure benjamin would agree to

    • 7 Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 6:39 pm

      The third anonymous is wrong, and so is the first. You have no idea what Benjamin Franklin would have supported in the modern era, because HE NEVER LIVED IN THE MODERN ERA. Everyone in his time had access to primitive healthcare. For-profit healthcare did not exist. Here’s what Benjamin Franklin would have said if he were alive today:

      “What in blazes are these giant metal beasts, with four black wheels, doing roaming the streets at unnatural speeds?”

      “What the devil are those giant metallic birds, doing flying through the air like a meteor sent from the almighty?”

      “Who freed all the slaves?”

      When you try to claim what people like Benjamin Franklin would think or say, you sound like an idiot.

      • 8 Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 3:49 am

        You forgot:
        “What those bright boxes that people sit in front of all day?”
        and “Why are you shackled by a government when we worked so hard to free ourselves from England”

      • 9 anonymous August 19, 2011 at 4:45 am

        i agree that the third anonymous is wrong but believe the first anonymous is right as well as the second anonymous. i also believe you, anonymous are right, (with of course the exception of your disagreement with the first anonymous) about the giant metal beasts etc. additionally, the anonymous posting immediately after you, which i suppose we should call the fifth anonymous, is right about the shiny boxes but he is most especially right about the fact that we have allowed ourselves to be shackled by a government. this dovetails nicely with the remarks by the first anonymous, of which i hope you will reconsider your initial disapproval.

      • 10 lstark56 February 16, 2012 at 2:19 am

        Don’t you like traveling in metal boxes, following an explosive chamber, without horses, toting around 20 gallons of highly flammable liquid?

        Don’t you appreciate flying at some 30,000 feet, give or take 10,000 feet, in a tin tube, at 600 miles per hour, with immobile wings, fiery nacelles, thousands of pounds of flammable liquid, and flight officers who may or may not be otherwise intoxicated?

        Benjamin Franklin saw, and had occur, questionable searches by British Royal Militia examining his notes and papers as an inciter of rebellion against the Crown. George Orwell saw this day coming, and we have enough cautionary tales to know that this can, and will if we leave the Government to have enough power to examine and limit our access to information, overview our opinions, and may be different than the “party in power”. We are in trouble.

        By the way, there are 468 job openings for unemployed, intelligent, and UNCONNECTED people to really serve “We, the PEOPLE …” at “THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS”. Final interviews are the first week of November. Anyone care to apply?

    • 11 lstark56 February 16, 2012 at 2:58 am

      “… Life (how can one have LIFE if there is no health to enjoy it?), Liberty (and a Justice System that ensures the LIBERTY of American Citizens) and the Pursuit of Happiness (and the education to pursue that HAPPINESS through truly profitable work without resorting to those industries that are illegal or immoral) …

      Benjamin Franklin was an educated person who took his education further than most, and invented widely, giving his inventions to the public without patent. He was in on the writing of the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. If health-care is a tyranny, look to our “free” allies and their health-care systems. They are not tyrannies, so health-care is part of “… ensure the domestic TRANQUILITY, … promote the general WELFARE,…” as stated in the Preamble to the Constitution.

      How is providing health-care a tyranny?

  4. 12 lstark56 February 16, 2012 at 2:05 am

    I am in no way “Anonymous” Since September 11, 2001, we have been on a spiral of fear and distrust, and CONSERVATIVE Policies all the way across.

    “Liberalism is the trust of the people, tempered by prudence. Conservativism is the distrust of the people, tempered (incited?) by fear.” (William Gladstone, 19th Century British PM)

    We are, and have been incited by fear, fear of Islam, fear of “undocumented aliens” (makes me think of “Men in Black”), fear of unregistered voters who do not have legal documentation of photo-identification and a twenty year track record of stability of living at the same address, people who have moved, and of one group or another.

    The political “talking heads” (and not the rock group) throw “blanket statements” all over the place, demonizing all the poor, the elderly, students, those who have served their time and are past their parole and probation, and anyone they can clam the need to fear. Anyone who is “strange” is subject to their boot-quaking. And they believe fear is the best way to ensure their power.

    We are selling our freedoms to make certain these “feared different groups” are given the “J. Edgar Hoover” treatment. THAT is freedom?


  1. 1 Pages « Friends of the American Revolution Trackback on July 22, 2008 at 11:02 am

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