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Benjamin Franklin and That Quote

By January 4, 2007

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Chances are you've seen the quote attributed to Ben Franklin about beer being proof that God loves us. And chances are equally good that you've heard someone claim that he never really said it. If you're anything like me you probably made a mental note to look into it sometime, "When I get a chance."

Well, Bob Skilnik, author of the soon to be released Beer & Food - An American History, has issued a challenge for somebody, anybody to prove that Franklin ever actually uttered these words. So, are you up to it? If you have something that you think proves it send it in to me and I'll forward it on to Bob.

Frankly, I think that this is one of the many nice but false - or at least unprovable - "facts" that float around in the beer world. I'd love to be proven wrong, though!

Comments

January 8, 2007 at 12:28 pm
(1) Shawn, The Beer Philosopher says:

I’d tend to agree, Bryce … nice, but probably not wholly accurate. It’s funny that the quote is morphed accordingly, depending on who you ask. If you’re a wine snob, it’s “Wine is proof …”, if you’re a beer aficionado, it’s “Beer is proof … ” Either way, it’s TRUE regardless of whether or not Ben Franklin ever uttered the words.

January 11, 2007 at 11:49 am
(2) Mike says:

Bob Skilnik actually left a number of comments on my blog in response to my entry about his quote. At the very least, they should be interesting to read.

November 26, 2008 at 4:20 pm
(3) Jonathan says:

This is what he actually said

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.

June 12, 2009 at 9:20 pm
(4) A really dumb waste of matter says:

What the hell is the problem here? Someone just ask him if he said it, and if he didn’t than someone will force him to.

December 23, 2011 at 10:05 am
(5) Smitty says:

A TIP OF the glass to Dick Stevens, owner of the Elevator Brewery & Draught Haus in Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Stevens has announced the recall of a batch of promotional t-shirts featuring a witticism frequently, but erroneously, attributed to founding father Benjamin Franklin.

According to a report from eNewsChannels.com:

Beer-themed web sites, brewing organizations and even “beer writers” are fond of quoting Franklin and his supposed love of beer — “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” But after recently hearing a lecture by Chicago-based brewing historian, Bob Skilnik, that convincingly asserts that Franklin was writing about rain, its nourishment of grapes, and ultimately, its conversion into wine, Stevens decided to do his part in correcting this historical inaccuracy.

“I hope that we can set the record straight about this little white lie that has been repeated for years,” Stevens said in a press release. “I have no doubt that ole Ben enjoyed a tankard or two of beer with friends and associates, but this beer quote, while well-meaning, is inaccurate.”

My colleague and fellow beer drinker Bryce Eddings reported back in 1997 that Skilnik, author of Beer & Food – An American History, was out to challenge the quote’s authenticity. These things take time.

For the record, here, in a letter addressed to André Morellet in 1779, is what Benjamin Franklin actually did say:

Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.

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