Benjamin Franklin on Democracy


© History Oasis

In the turbulent times leading to the birth of the United States, there stood a figure whose unwavering conviction in the principles of democracy, liberty, and equality shaped the very essence of the nation.

Benjamin Franklin, a fervent believer in the democratic ideal, expressed his views through writings and speeches that have resonated through history.

Franklin's understanding of democracy was an embodiment of the struggle between the oppressed and their oppressors.

To him, democracy represented the triumph of the collective will over the insatiable hunger of the few. In his own words:

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

Franklin's commitment to democracy and individual liberty was further evident in his declaration that:

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

Thus, the spirit of democracy was at the very heart of Franklin's convictions, and his influence on the American Revolution and the formation of the United States was profound.


An evil king
© History Oasis

In a world plagued by the scourge of tyranny and the omnipresent shadow of authoritarianism, Benjamin Franklin's words echoed a dire warning against the concentration of power. A staunch advocate for the dispersion of power, he emphasized the need for checks and balances to safeguard the delicate balance of liberty and equality.

Franklin's cautionary tales regarding the dangers of authoritarianism and tyranny were a clarion call for vigilance and resistance — urging the American people to stand firm in the face of any attempts to undermine the principles of democracy.

He believed that the erosion of democratic rights and the oppression of the people were the inevitable consequences of allowing the reins of power to fall into the hands of the few.


The Statue of Liberty
© History Oasis

Benjamin Franklin's devotion to liberty and the rights of the individual stemmed from his belief that these virtues were essential components of human nature and the bedrock of a just society.

In his view, the interdependence of liberty and democracy formed the backbone of the United States' success and well-being.

Franklin's insights into the importance of liberty were shaped by his experiences as a colonial subject of Great Britain and his exposure to the ideas of the Enlightenment.


people meeting during the Enlightenment
© History Oasis

The Enlightenment, a European intellectual and cultural movement characterized by a focus on reason, science, and the pursuit of knowledge, played a pivotal role in shaping Franklin's political and philosophical views.

The movement's emphasis on individual liberty and the rights of the individual struck a resonant chord with Franklin, who absorbed these ideas during his extensive travels in Europe.

As a member of the broader scientific community driven by the Enlightenment's values, Franklin's achievements in the realm of electricity and other scientific endeavors were also influenced by the movement.


Portrait of Benjamin Franklin
© History Oasis

Benjamin Franklin's commitment to democracy is evidenced in a variety of his writings.

Among his most notable works on the subject are:

The Pennsylvania Constitution (1776)

As a key drafter of this document, Franklin laid the foundations for democratic government in Pennsylvania, establishing one of the first state constitutions in the United States.

The Federalist Papers (1787-1788)

Franklin's contributions to this seminal collection of essays illuminated the importance of democracy and the need for a strong central government in the newly-formed United States.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (1791)

In his reflections on his life and experiences, Franklin expounded on the significance of democracy and the rights of the individual.

"Information to Those Who Would Remove to America" (1782)

In this persuasive essay, Franklin extolled the virtues of living in a democratic society and encouraged Europeans to emigrate to the United States, seeking a life of freedom and opportunity.

These writings stand as testament to Franklin's unwavering belief in the principles of democracy and his dedication to preserving and protecting this form of government.


Benjamin Franklin
© HistoryOasis

Benjamin Franklin's passionate belief in democracy, liberty, and equality shaped the United States and continues to influence the nation to this day.

He fervently advocated for a government that represented and responded to the will of the people, giving them a voice in decisions that would impact their lives.

Furthermore, Franklin championed the notion of equality, asserting that all individuals, irrespective of social status or wealth, deserved an equal say in the governance of their country.

This belief is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the United States and is a cornerstone of its democratic system.

The warnings Franklin issued against the perils of authoritarianism and tyranny serve as a stark reminder of the need for vigilance in defending our rights and liberties.

The preservation of democracy and the protection of individual liberties are ongoing battles that must be fought by each generation.

Franklin's views on liberty and individual rights, born from the crucible of the Enlightenment, continue to resonate with contemporary thinkers and shape the discourse on the role of democracy in society.

In conclusion, Benjamin Franklin's unwavering commitment to democracy and the principles of liberty and equality has left an indelible mark on the United States and the world.

His words serve as a clarion call to uphold these ideals and remain vigilant against the ever-present threats to freedom and democracy. As we strive to create a more just and equitable world — we would do well to remember the wisdom of this remarkable founding father and continue to champion the principles he held so dear.