Tuesday, January 17, 2006

happy birthday, Ben

The above scan is from the title page of the first (1759) edition of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania. As Richard Minsky details, there is some controversy over whether it was even written by Ben Franklin, who “celebrates” his 300th birthday today, January 17. Minsky concludes that Franklin probably can be credited with the quote as worded above, but the scan is important because the statement has been misquoted and rewritten so often as to, in some cases, render it meaningless.

So, one time, for Ben’s birthday, everybody—yes that means you Mr. President, and your hacks in the Department of Justice, and your friends in Congress and at the NSA, and Judge Alito, and your future buddies on the Supreme Court—say it with me:

“Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY.”


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