Whether it is a tourist trap in Boston, a tacky souvenir store in Chicago, or a street-side vendor in San Francisco, the quote “Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. However, these shirts and signs are incorrect when they cite Franklin as the author.
Franklin wrote in a letter to a French economist Abbe Morellet, who was a contributor to Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, or the Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts. In the letter, Franklin conveys his love of not beer, but wine.
“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!”
Franklin enjoyed wine more than beer and even had a negative view towards the consumption of beer, especially when printers who have a mug or two at work. Rather, he extolled the virtues of wine and referenced the Biblical story of the wedding at Canna, where Jesus turned water into wine. The altering of the quote, however, is really meaningless in the grand scope of history. The confusion will not lead people to question the rule of law in their society or incite calls to destroy established institutions. It is a comical footnote, if that, that focuses on one of Americans favorite things, beer and one of its most famous founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin.
One of Benjamin Franklin’s first publications was his Silence Dogood Essays on April 2, 1722. Franklin adopts the alias of “Silence Dogood” so he can print these stories and commentaries without his brother knowing. James Franklin, who was furious with Benjamin Franklin since he had outwitted the elder James in regards to his apprenticeship, would never allow his younger brother to gain fame from his writings in The New England Courant. Because of the censorship of his brother, Franklin adopts the pseudonym Silence Dogood.
In Benjamin Franklin’s first Silence Dogood Essays, he introduces the narrator of the fourteen-part essay that would be printed in his brother’s newspaper. It covers the circumstances of her birth and how her father died on that day, “…a merciless Wave entered the Ship, and in one Moment carry’d him beyond Reprieve.” Her mother sends her to apprentice with a minster, who instills the young girl virtues and a hunger for knowledge and reading. After two years being an apprentice to this minster, her mother dies and “leaving me as it were by my self, with no Relation on Earth within my knowledge.” Instead of going on and on about her life, Silence Dogood simply states she has had a good life full of “profit and pleasure” and ends the essay by saying that her humor should not be taken seriously and she does not aim to make anyone angry.
Franklin’s goal of this first letter is to establish who Silence Dogood is and why she is writing these letters and printing them in the newspaper. She is giving an account of her life and gives the reader a sense of who the author is. However, Franklin’s most important point comes at he end of the letter when he writes, “I am not insensible of the impossibility of pleasing all, but I would not willing displease any” Franklin is isolating his fictitious author from the threat of being censored by the Massachusetts Assembly. If he states these essays are not designed to insult, then the Assembly will have a difficult time to quiet this part of the newspaper if it is not malicious, but pokes fun at he government.
Benjamin Franklin was born here on Milk Street in Boston, Massachusetts on January 17, 1706 to Josiah Franklin and Abiah Folger. His was the youngest son of seventeen children and lived in Boston for all of his childhood and the majority of his teenage years. This building is not the original home of Benjamin Franklin, as the original burned down in a fire that swept down Milk Street in 1811. Ironically, the ground floor is home to Sir Speedy, a printing company. It is a different kind of printing, but it is ironic that the spiritual successor of one of Benjamin Franklin’s occupations is where his birthplace is. Franklin’s time in Boston helped shaped his character and set him on the path of becoming what many in his time referred to him as, The First American.