Quoting Franklin: Real or Fake?


It is often that Benjamin Franklin is credited for saying the following phrase: “Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” However, after partaking in some research on this quote, I found that he never actually spoke those words.

In 1779, Franklin wrote a letter to André Morellet in the French language that referenced the wondrous creations of nature by God. Below is his quote translated into English language.

“We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

Though it may seem as though Franklin is talking solely about the glories of wine, he is more so focusing on and talking about how great God’s creations (the rain, the vineyards, the grapes,etc) are. Those would be the things that he is referring to when he says “a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.”

I would definitely say that the quote many of see today was misinterpreted. How they got “beer” out of that quote is pretty questionable and the reason as to why it was changed to that is quite unclear. It was probably someone who was either a maker or seller of beer and in order to bring attention and desire to their product, the quote was turned around in their benefit.

So to all of the beer lovers out there: this quote may be true to you, but it was not to Benjamin Franklin (he supposedly liked wine better, anyway).

Reference (for translated quote): http://www.anchorbrewing.com/blog/say-what-says-who-benjamin-franklin-on-beer-or-not/

Only In Boston

Only in Boston- Professor Allison

I came across this while on twitter the other day although it doesn’t totally relate to Benjamin Franklin I thought others in the class might enjoy to see our very own Professor Allison being quoted by not only the Only In Boston twitter page but also by the New York Times. in the picture above you see a quote and professor Allison mentions that a Bostonian said it. It made me wonder what Bostonian said those words and upon my research it did have something to do with Benjamin Franklin for he said those words. Professor Allison I think I’m going to have to disagree with you Boston is quite a fun city in my opinion. Though the New York Times article isn’t about Benjamin Franklin it is about something that will effect many of us it’s about Boston late night transit. I highly recommend people read it and take notice of our professor for being involved with this even if we disagree with going early to bed and Boston being a fun city.

The Speech of Miss Polly Baker 1747

By Aubrey Bepko, Kaylee Lampert


The speech of Miss Polly Baker, conducted in front of a fictional court, addresses her five charges on the crime of bearing a child out of wedlock. Miss Baker is proven to have conceived five children, none bearing genes of a husband. Miss Baker has been previously charged with fines and sentenced to public punishment for these offenses. Baker challenges the court and questions the fairness of the the law with the argument of her belief that she has done nothing in the terms of morals. Towards the end of her speech, Miss Baker proclaims that instead of her receiving public punishment there should be a statue in her honor for enduring unjust punishments for crimes she believes to be inaccurate.

Miss Baker brings to light multiple personal issues she has with the charges brought upon her. She was originally planned to be wed until she became pregnant with her fiancée’s child, until he proceeded to leave her to care after the child herself. He now holds power in the government as a Magistrate. She views this as unfair, as he was given a placement of power and no punishment, where as she was left to care for the fatherless child alone and punished for his abandonment. She states having her children not as a crime because she brought five lives into the world and into a country that is asking for more members. She explains that she has never had tainted someone else’s marriage with an affair, nor does she believe God is mad at her for having her children. She emphasizes how she has increased the population in a non sinful manner and has rightfully taken part in the process of natural selection. Due to these multiple beliefs she believes the court is in the wrong and certain laws should be taken into careful consideration.

Benjamin Franklin writes this piece as a fictional story addressing the gender inequality in the justice system during the time period. Narrating as Miss Polly Baker, Franklin tells the tale of a woman battling the wrong doing of fines and public punishments Baker receives for conceiving five children while unwed. Polly Baker was viewed to the public as a sinful woman for acts in which she believed were not worthy of punishment. Franklin addresses that it is wrong for not only the woman to be the only one to go punished, but also to even punish a woman for having a child unwed when they are the ones solely caring for the child. This piece is important because of it’s address to inequality, in the instance, Miss Baker received full punishment, and the biological father of her first child went unpunished and received a position of governmental power.

Experiment Day

Wow. What a class. I had so much fun in class doing this balloon/comb experiment. At first, I was pretty confused as to why there was a box on the table in the front and what was inside. But once I saw balloons and some cloth, I knew at once we were doing electricity. I still to this day am not sure why we did it exactly, other than the fact that Benjamin Franklin also worked with electrical charges. I had a blast rubbing balloons with that black cloth, and then testing it out with the electrical charge tester; the tin foil attached to the cardboard and the coat hanger. I was able to charge my balloon so well that it actually stuck to the ceiling and looked as if it were floating with literally NO helium in it. Wow. I kind of felt the same excitement that Benjamin Franklin maybe felt when he discovered electricity, except that electricity already exists today and I discovered nothing new. However, it was still a good time and I liked bonding with my classmates and professor. 🙂

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Attending the Orations

Tonight, I had the honor of attending the “Fifth of March (Boston Massacre) Orations” at the Old South Meeting House. When I first heard about the opportunity to attend, I decided that it may be a good idea to see what it was all about. I knew that it was going to be informative, but what I did not know was that I would be exposed to so many diverse people. These people were all different in their own way but had one thing in common- their interest and acknowledgment of a specific past occurrence which just so happened to be the Boston Massacre.

Walking into the Old South Meeting House, I was eager for the activities of the night to begin. I observed my surroundings and and waiting for what would happen next. To begin, a woman introduced herself and gave us a run down of what we would hear. Not too long after she spoke. we were introduced to the two “hosts” (for lack of better term) of the night: Robert Allison (Hi Professor Allison!!!) and Sam Foreman. They were briefly introduced and the orations began.

Professor Allison gave the crowd a background of the first set of orations that were going to be read. This set was from the Boston Massacre Orations of 1772-1774 and included speeches from Dr. Joseph Warren, Dr. Benjamin Church and John Hancock. Most of the speeches were read in portions by different people, including our own Caroline and Brendan..

There was a short break and then we moved forward to the Boston Massacre Orations of 1775, which was introduced by Sam Foreman (in his best Dr. Joseph Warren attire). Once again, the speeches by Dr. Joseph Warren were read in pieces and this time we got to hear from a different group of people, this time including our classmates Rachel and Marissa.

I really enjoyed the experience and being able to observe such a wonderful event! Below, I have included pictures of our awesome classmates, Professor Allsion and Sam Foreman.

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Experimenting : The Franklin Way

In pursuit of figuring out a new “particular Phaenomena”, Benjamin Franklin set forth in his efforts in experimenting with what we know today as electricity. He wrote each of his steps down in a lengthy letter to Peter Collinson and explained why he was doing the specific things that he was.

As a class, we were allowed to do the same, in a quite simpler way. Professor Allison provided us with the materials that we needed, including balloons, wool cloths, tin foil, card board and wires. We then began to mimic the experiment on our own, rubbing pieces of wool cloth all over the balloons for minutes at a time and hoping that we would be generating some sort of electricity while we did so. To measure our success (or failure), we quickly constructed testers by cutting out a piece of cardboard, taping a short wire to it and wrapping the end of the wire with tin foil. After this was completed, we put this contraption close to the “charged up” balloons and looked to see if there was an electrical pull.

My experiment ended up being successful in the end as I noticed that there was a pretty large pull toward the contraption when it was near my balloon. The balloon that I used was relatively small (much smaller than almost everyone else’s) so I think that it was a lot easier for it to become charged up with electricity in a timely manner.

Rewrite of “Historicus” to Federal Gazette”

Briana D’Amelio, Megan Scully, Marissa Gudauskas and Ashlee Backhus

Benjamin Franklin wrote a satircal piece under the pseudonym Historicus. It is a response to a speech given by Georgia Representative James Jackson, who was pro-slavery. To mock Jackson’s speech, Franklin created a fictional character who was the leader of Algiers named Sidi Mehmet Ibrahim, who “gave” a speech 100 years prior. In the fictional speech given, Ibrahim states that he was “against granting the Petition of the Sect, called Erika.” The Erika were purist who wanted to abolish slavery because they found it to be unjust.

Ibrahim’s fictional speech questioned the Erika as to why they wanted their petition to be accepted. These questions included “Who will cultivate the lands?” and “Who will perform common labors in the city and in the family?” He also says that if the petition were to pass, the land will become of no value for want of cultivation, rents of houses will be reduced by one half, revenues of government arising from its share of Prizes would be reduced, slaves would be set free and they would not convert and embrace Christianity.

Because of Franklin’s opposition against slavery, he was named President of the Pennsylvannia Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. In this role, he petitioned to promote the abolition of slavery which prompted Jackson to make his speech that focused on aspects of pro-slavery.

Both petitions were ultimately not granted and slavery was not abolished at this time.

This satirical parody was Franklin’s last piece of work before his death. Though Franklin may not have known this was going to be his last written piece of his lifetime, the importance of abolishing slavery was so significant to him that he would have been satisfied knowing that he got to share his last thoughts on a subject that he felt so strongly about. “Although his health was failing, Franklin’s mind and pen remained sharp until the end.”



In Class Experiment

During the Enlightenment, people began to question why and how certain phenomenon occurred. Because there was no clear explanation, people automatically believed it to be the fate of god. Benjamin Franklin, being an enlightened thinker, began to experiment with electricity to try to better understand how exactly it worked.

In class, we tried to model one of these experiments. We blew up balloons and rubbed them with a wool cloth to generate electricity as seen in the image below. We then attached tinfoil to a meal wire and dangled it from a piece of cardboard. We tested to see if there was electricity generated by observing if the tinfoil would be attracted to the balloon or not. As we rubbed the balloon a strong negative charge built up and thus attracted the tin foil which was positively charged.

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Similarly, as we can see in his letters to Peter Collinson, Franklin would run experiments and write a clear description as to what he did and what materials he used and then try to draw conclusions to explain the phenomenon he witnessed.  He ran experiments several times to try to prove his theories.