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Great Quotes, Volume 4: All About the Benjamin (Franklin)

By Motley Fool Staff – Sep 15, 2016 at 11:07AM

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Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner once again riffs on some well-stated ideas from great thinkers both historic and modern.

In this segment of the Rule Breaker Investing podcast, David Gardner offers up one of his favorite quotes from one of our cleverest Founding Fathers, whose pointed comment on why letting division would doom the American Revolution still applies in a host of ways to both politics and business.

A transcript follows the video.

This podcast was recorded on Aug. 17, 2016.

David Gardner: All right, quote No. 2. Quote No. 2, we're going to stick with the 18th century. This is not a theme that runs all the way through this podcast, but for the first two, I'm going to go back -- in fact, for No. 2, it comes from one of my very favorite Americans. I'll first give you the line. Maybe you can guess who said it, and I quote: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

Well, that is a quintessentially American line. It was spoken in the Continental Congress just before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and it was spoken by Benjamin Franklin. And I just love that line: "We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall hang separately."

And what I want to say about that is simply that there's a spirit of unity that's in that line that was obviously in our country, here in the United States of America, from its founding. And I think it's such an important spirit, as I think about today's world. Not just in America, not just about politics, but really about unity. We must, indeed, all hang together. That's such an important theme for our time. So often there are forces both political and often in the media, a lot of times, trying to pit people against each other, and I don't think it's very helpful.

One of the things I love about business is that commerce and trade -- we have to trade with each other. We make each other more prosperous when you specialize in your thing and I specialize in mine, and we buy and sell from each other. It's so much more efficient than the proverbial, if you've heard it, $1,200 chicken sandwich that sometimes you'll read about, where somebody actually tries to make a chicken sandwich him- or herself. For a few months, raising a chicken. Growing the bread. All of this, it costs about $1,200, which is a lot more than a chicken sandwich costs, even a very good one at a restaurant today.

When you find a place like a restaurant, or a chef who specializes in making chicken sandwiches, and you, on the other hand, can sell him or her your talent, that is such a great world, and unity, I think especially in 2016, is especially important. I'm always sad when I think about forces in our world that are designed specifically to divide people, that pit one group of people against another, when really, going back to the Greeks, part of what made the Greeks great -- I remember from reading my Edith Hamilton back in my schoolboy days -- is the Greeks understood, in contrast to other cultures up until the ancient Greeks, they looked for what was common in the spirits of all men. Of course, "men," there, gender inclusive. In the spirit of all of us. Looking for the things that brought us together, as opposed to things that separated us.

So thank you, Benjamin Franklin, and just like Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Franklin and Rousseau just as true, just as wise a few centuries later. 

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