A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 30, 2013
“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid”

"We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid” has been credited to American founding father Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), but there is no evidence that he ever said it. The quotation has been cited in print since only about 1999—far removed from Franklin’s lifetime.


Wikiquote: Talk:Benjamin Franklin
Born ignorant
A number of quotation sites give this saying ("We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.") as Benjamin Franklin’s. I can’t find it in Franklin’s works, and the oldest reference Google Books comes up with is 2005 or so. Could this be a modern paraphrase of something Franklin wrote? Sbh 23:32, 2 May 2011 (UTC)

Fake History—Quotation Index
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid. (questionable; not found in Franklin’s works and unknown before the twenty-first century)

Google Books
Can I Have the Keys to the Car?:
How Teens and Parents Can Talk About Things That Really Matter

By Terry L. Paulson and Sean D. Paulson
Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg
1999
Pg. 84:
We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.” BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Google Books
2001 Librarian’s Engagement Calendar and Almanac
By Highsmith Incorporated
Fort Atkinson, WI: Alleyside Press
2000
Pg. ?:
We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.
Benjamin Franklin

Twitter
Thumbs Up Club
‏@ThumbsUpClub
RT @iwisenet: We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.-B.Franklin #quote http://iwise.com/pLW4N: RT @iwisenet: ..
8:02 PM - 16 Sep 09

Google Books
The War On Success:
How the Obama Agenda Is Shattering the American Dream

By Tommy Newberry
Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc.
2010
Pg. ?:
Ben Franklin had his own take on it, saying, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

26 May 2012, Bakersfield (CA) Californian, pg. D1, col. 1:
‘We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”— Benjamin Franklin

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, November 30, 2013 • Permalink