FACT CHECK: Did Benjamin Franklin Say, ‘By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail’?

Trevor Schakohl | Legal Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that founding father Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Verdict: False

The Daily Caller found no evidence that Franklin originated the saying.

Fact Check:

Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, helped draft the Declaration of Independence and served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. (RELATED: Did John Quincy Adams Pen This Quote On Leadership?)

Yet, he is frequently credited with quotes on the internet. There is no evidence that he authored the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. The Daily Caller found no record of the statement in his collected writings, nor in any of his letters.

Blaine McCormick, a professor at Baylor University and author of “Ben Franklin: America’s Original Entrepreneur,” noted that the statement did not sound “Colonial” in a 2015 press release, in which he also debunked a number of other quotes from Franklin.

The website Quote Investigator found the earliest instance of a variant expression in a 1919 edition of the periodical “The Biblical World.” In that publication, pastor H.K. Williams is quoted as saying, “Remember, if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Williams, however, was likely citing an aphorism already in circulation and did not originate it himself, according to Quote Investigator.

Trevor Schakohl

Legal Reporter
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