“Nothing is certain but death and taxes…”
On Nov 13, 1789, in a letter to his friend, Jean-BaptisteLeroy, Ben Franklin penned the often quoted“…nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
It should be noted that while the quote is often attributed to Franklin, he does not appear to be the original source of the quote. In 1726, in the book The Political History of The Devil, Daniel DeFoe wrote:
“Things as certain as death and taxes can be more firmly believed.”
The excerpt from Franklins letter goes as follows:
“Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
Interestingly, the original letter was written in French (which Franklin wrote and spoke fluently)
“Notre constitution nouvelle est actuellement établie, tout paraît nous promettre qu’elle sera durable; mais, dans ce monde, il n’y a rien d’assure que la mort et les impôts.”
The full letter was written by a concerned Franklin to his friend Leroy, as the French Revolution was underway and Franklin had not heard from Leroy in over a year. Franklin was concerned for his friends safety.
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