Jean-Antoine Houdon's bust of Benjamin Franklin is displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on January 12, 2012 ( AFP / Timothy A. Clary)

Quote on justice falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

Social media posts claim that US founding father Benjamin Franklin said: "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." But experts and online databases say the quote cannot be traced to him.

A February 21, 2022 Facebook post shared more than 51,000 times attributed the quote to Franklin here. It is not the first time the elder statesman and diplomat has been erroneously tied to the statement. Cory Booker, the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted the same remarks about justice here in 2017, citing Franklin. 

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken on March 1, 2022

But the US National Archives' Founders Online project, which collaborates with the University of Virginia Press to make historical documents available for free online, said that the quote was not found for Franklin. 

"It has been attributed to many people, but we have no record of it in Franklin's papers," the organization said.

The writings of Franklin, George Washington, John Adams (and family), Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison are available for search here.

Yale University and the American Philosophical Society's The Papers of Benjamin Franklin collects, edits and publishes the writings of Franklin. Asked whether the social media quote is correctly attributed, the editor of the project, Ellen Cohn, said: "It is not."

The documents are available for search here.

AFP has addressed more examples of misattributed quotes here, here and here.