A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 25, 2017
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority”

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is sometimes credited with the saying:

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

Franklin never said it. The quotation appears to have been cited first in 2001.

“Question Authority” became a popular bumper sticker in the 1970s—well after Franklin’s lifetime.


Politics...War...And Other Yucky Stuff (August 24, 2001)
It is the fist responsibility of every citizen to question authority. ~Benjamin Franklin

Google Answers
Answer
Subject: Re: commonly heard quotation
Answered By: nellie_bly-ga on 18 Nov 2002 12:13 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Greetings-

“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority,” is attributed to Benjamin Franklin on at least one quotation web site(http://www.remc11.k12.mi.us/~jinman/pol.htm), but I have been unable to find a citation to confirm that. 

Google Groups: fa.fiction-of-philosophy
PotD (fwd)
Alan Sondheim
7/3/03
(...)
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority”=
. --
Benjamin Franklin

Google Groups: alt.fan.rush-limbaugh
Friday, December 26: Iraqi Mortar Attack Kills 2 U.S. Troops, 4 Wounded
Sillary’s Stalker
12/27/03
(...)
Benjamin Franklin
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.

Google Books
The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook:
179 Things to Do ‘til the Revolution

By Claire Wolfe
Loompanics Unlimited
2004
Pg. 32:
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. — Benjamin Franklin

4 August 2004, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), “Letters,” pg. 15:
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” Benjamin Franklin.
(...)
Marc Bouchard
Rolling Meadows

Google Books
Big Government-- Poor Grandchildren:
How Democrats and Republicans are Impoverishing You and Yours

By Durham W. Ellis
Birmingham, AL: Wealthy World Publishers
2006
Pg. 222:
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.” -BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Los Angeles (CA) Times
Democracy in action and the obnoxious
The hotheaded opponents of healthcare reform and their ilk have always been a part of the American fabric.

August 17, 2009 | GREGORY RODRIGUEZ
It’s in the same spirit of all those lefty bumper stickers that read “Question Authority.” It’s embodied in Benjamin Franklin’s famous advice along the same lines: “The first responsibility of every citizen is to question authority.”

Google Books
Understanding the Faith:
A Survey of Christian Apologetics

By Jeff Myers
Manitou SPrings, CO: Summit Ministries
2016
Pg. ?:
This is probably what Benjamin Franklin had in mind when he said, “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”

Snopes.com
(Not) All About the Benjamins
We were unable to locate any evidence that Benjamin Franklin ever said it was the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.

Kim LaCapria
Updated: May 23, 2016

The Daily Caller
Cory Booker Tweets Fake Benjamin Franklin Quote To Attack Trump
KATIE FRATES
Associate Editor
4:02 PM 01/23/2017
(...)
The Daily Caller News Foundation contacted Dr. Blaine McCormick, chair of the Department of Management at Baylor University and a Franklin scholar, to verify the authenticity of the quote.

He called the phrase a “hoax,” and not “a valid Franklin quote.”

Gateway Pundit
FAKE QUOTES: Lying Cory Booker Tweets Fake Benjamin Franklin Quote To Attack Trump
Ryan Saavedra Jan 24th, 2017 4:16 pm
(...)
Cory Booker ✔ @CoryBooker
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
Benjamin Franklin
8:51 AM - 23 Jan 2017

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 • Permalink