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Cover Gallery: The Wisdom of Ben Franklin

Published: January 11, 2017

Every January between 1943 and 1961, the Saturday Evening Post featured an image of Benjamin Franklin on its cover, along with a quote from the famed inventor, printer, and statesman. Below is a selection of those covers along with his wise words, which still resonate hundreds of years later.

 

Ben Franklin

January 16, 1943
John Falter

 

“God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough Knowledge of the Rights of Man may pervade all the Nations of the Earth so that a Philosopher may set his foot anywhere and say This is my Country.”

 

A bust of Ben Franklin

January 15, 1944
John Atherton

 

“The Eyes of Christendom are upon us, and our honor as a People has become a matter of Utmost Consequence to be taken care of. If we give up our Rights in this Contest, a Century to come will not Restore us to the Opinion of the World; we shall be stamped with the character of Poltroons & Fools — Present Inconveniences are, therefore, to be Borne with Fortitude, and Better Times expected.”

 

A bust of Ben Franklin

January 19, 1946
John Atherton

 

“The Rapid Progress True Science now makes, occasions my regretting sometimes that I was born so soon. It is Impossible to imagine the Height to which may be carried, in a Thousand Years, the Power of Man over Matter…O that Moral Science were in a fair way of improvement, that Men would cease to be Wolves to one another, and that Human Beings would at length learn what they now improperly call Humanity!”

 

A bust of Ben Franklin

January 18, 1947
John Atherton

 

“Friends and Neighbors, the Taxes are indeed very heavy, if those laid on by Government were the only Ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our Idleness, three times as much by our Pride, and four times as much by our Folly; and from these Taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us.

 

Bust of Ben Franklin

January 17, 1953
John Atherton

 

“I think with you, that nothing is of more importance for the public weal, than to form and train up youth in wisdom and virtue. Wise and good men are, in my opinion, the strength of a state for more so than riches or arms.”

 

Ben Franklin

January 15, 1955
John Atherton

 

“Do not believe the reports you hear of our internal Divisions. We are, I believe, as much united as any People ever were, and as firmly.”

 

Bust of Ben Franklin

January 21, 1956
Stanley Meltzoff

 

“If all Printers were determin’d not to print any thing till they were sure it would offend no body, there would be very little printed.”

 

Ben Franklin

January 18, 1958
Stanley Meltzoff

 

“Happiness consists more in small conveniences or pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom to a man in the course of his life.”

 

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  • Steve Hicks

    My interest in Ben Franklin started around 1965 on a 5th grade class trip to Philadelphia (from NYC). As the years have gone by, that abiding interest remains and has also grown into respect and admiration. I still make occasional visits to Philadelphia from NYC and always feel like I’m like I’m paying him a little visit!

  • Hank Miller

    Mr McGowan said it best, for me that is although I was not that enamored with Ben as a child….later in life his writings and his wisdom overwhelmed me!

  • It’s always fascinated me how many truly great men (The Founding Fathers) were all living at the same time to launch our country, be able to anticipate things unforeseen, and most of all have sense and sensibility!

    I loved learning American history in elementary school and about all of the Founding Fathers. My favorite has always been Benjamin Franklin and still is. Back then it had more to do with his inventions, since then it’s his wit and timeless wisdom.

    All the sayings in these selections are wonderful, but the one of 1/17/53 is especially timely. If I do say so myself, his being the Founding Father of the POST is his greatest accomplishment of all. He’d be very proud of today’s magazine and accompanying website utilizing technology for the common good, knowledge, humanity, perspective and entertainment on a daily basis.

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