FACT CHECK: Did Benjamin Franklin Write A Book Called ‘Fart Proudly’?
Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director who was fired after less than two weeks on the job, said that founding father Benjamin Franklin wrote a book called “Fart Proudly.”
Scaramucci said that the book encourages people to “own” their undesirable personality traits and recommended it to all children.
Franklin wrote an essay, not a book, about farting that appears in a compilation of Franklin essays called “Fart Proudly.” The essay does not encourage self-assurance, but mocks the scientific academy in Brussels at the time through satire.
While Franklin did write an essay about farting, Scaramucci mischaracterized Franklin’s message. “My point is, is that we all have warts, we all have an underside to our personalities that we may not 100 percent like, but Franklin’s view was own it. Be earthy, be grounded, fart proudly,” Scaramucci said Monday on “The Jamie Weinstein Show.”
Franklin’s brief satirical essay, written sometime between 1780 and 1782, calls upon the Royal Academy of Brussels to research and develop a drug that would make farts smell nice.
“My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes,” Franklin wrote.
The tongue-in-cheek essay mocks the scientific questions that the Royal Academy of Brussels chose to research. Franklin thought one of those questions was silly and had little practical value, so he wrote the essay in response. He sent some copies of the essay to friends.
Scaramucci also credits Franklin with the title “Fart Proudly.” “It’s a shocking title 250 years later,” Scaramucci said.
But Franklin did not give his essay that title or use the phrase in the essay. “Fart Proudly” is a compilation of satirical essays from Franklin edited by Carl Japikse, though Franklin’s essay on farting is now also colloquially called “Fart Proudly.”
Because of the compilation, the quote “fart for freedom, fart for liberty – and fart proudly” is often misattributed to Franklin. Even the Franklin Institute, a museum dedicated to science education in Franklin’s honor, credited the false quote to Franklin in a tweet.
The quote echoes Scaramucci’s characterization of Franklin’s message, but Franklin did not write those words. Japikse, the editor of the compilation of essays, wrote a short piece at the end of the book that describes a dream he had about Franklin. The quote appears in the book as something that Japikse imagined Franklin to have said.
Scaramucci and the Franklin Institute did not respond to requests for comment.
Follow Emily on Twitter
Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected]