Ben Franklin’s Thirteen Values

I just finished the biography of Ben Franklin.  It was hilarious!  As a young man, he was always getting duped by friends who often “borrowed” his money.  Despite temporary setbacks, his hard work and integrity paid off.  His printing press was so successful that he was able to turn over its management to his partner and acheive greater accomplishments as a scientist, inventor, statesman, and ambassador.  Image of book courtesy of Barnes and Noble

His set of values were a great force in his accomplishments.   He carried a little notebook around with him and would work on one value at a time.  He would mark a black mark under the value for his faults that day. 

My intention being to acquire the Habitude of all these Virtues, I judg’d it would be well not to distract my Attention by attempting the whole at one, but to fit it on one of them at a time, and when I should be Master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on till I should have gone thro’ the thirteen.

Awesome!  That’s what I’m trying to do with my habits–work on just one at a time.  Here are his values.

1. Temprance

Eat not to Dullness.  Drink not to Elevation

2.  Silence

Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself.  Avoiding trifling Conversation.

3.  Order

Let all your Things have their Places.  Let each Part of your Business have its Time.

4.  Resolution

Resolve to perform what you ought.  Perform without fail what you resolve.

5.  Frugality

Make no Expense but to do good to others or yourself.  i.e., Waste nothing.

6.  Industry

Lose no Time.  Be always employ’d in something useful.  Cut off all unnecessary Actions.

7.  Sincerity

Use no hurtful Deceit.  Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak; speak accordingly.

8.  Justice

Wrong non, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefit that are your Duty.

9.  Moderation

Avoid Extremes.  Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10.  Cleanliness

Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.

11.  Tranquility

Be not disturbed at Trifles, or Accidents common or unavoidable.

12.  Chastity

Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your own or another’s Peace or Reputation. 

13.  Humility

Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Living these values certainly paid off for Franklin.  For a worksheet of his accomplishments that you can do with your children, click here. 



  1. I don’t think he would of liked the telephone…it doesn’t provide silence and I talk on it way to much and not with purpose all the time. I like trifling conversation but need to do it less. 🙂

    And let things all have their places is bugging me right now. I gave my retainer to the 5 yr old to take to my bathroom…mistake one and now it is no where to be found. Mistake two is leaving it out and not putting it in its proper place when I was supposed too. Did you ever find your multiple keys?

  2. I’m so sorry about your retainer, but that is so funny! Putting things in their proper place is REALLY hard for me–we’ll have to work on it together–

    I did find my multiple keys! I forgot to report that. They were in a pocket of my diaper bag, just where I remembered putting them. Funny how I had looked there ten times already. My “angel” was getting revenge.

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