"[...] I think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They have the virtue of fortitude or they would not venture to own their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many enemies; and they have not like orthodox sinners, such a number of friends to excuse or justify them. Do not, however mistake me. It is not to my good friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary, 'tis his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic." -- Benjamin Franklin (b. 1706-01-17[*], d. 1790-04-17), letter to Benjamin Voughan[**], 1788-10-24
[*] Recorded as 6 January 1705 in the Julian calendar, which England and her colonies used at that time; retconned to the equivalent Gregorian date, 17 January 1706, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in 1752. See a calendar for September 1752 for the changeover (on a Unix/Linux computer, type "cal 9 1752"). Note that different countries adopted the Gregorian calendar in different years.
[**] The Presidentship he mentions having served in at the start of the letter refers to the President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, the office Franklin held from 1785 to 1788. After 1790 that office was done away with and Pennsylvania started having a Governor instead.
[When I went looking for a Franklin quotation to use today, I found there are a metric %$^#ton of misattributed, faked, and even anachonistic quotes incorrectly bearing his name. That happens with most of the Founding Fathers, as well as Mark Twain, and Abraham Lincoln (who famously said, "The problem with Internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy" -- or so Google tells me) ... but I think Franklin's large actual output of aphorisms and epigrams makes his an especially tempting name to attach to any unsourced, obscure, or just-made-up proverb that sounds kind of like his style.]
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