Misquote: Ben Franklin on Beer

Source: About.com Guide

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

This is 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."

The aforementioned Skilnik, author of Beer & Food - An American History, has issued a challenge to promulgators of the quote to come forward with proof, reported my colleague (and fellow beer drinker) Bryce Eddings in 2007. There have been no takers so far.

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.


(Source: Isaacson, Walter. Benjamin Franklin: An American Life. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003. p.374.)

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