The 13 Virtues

Needless to say, Benjamin Franklin was a pretty accomplished guy. If you don’t know U.S. history, you can click here and learn a bit more about one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. But decades before becoming a Founding Father, a young Ben Franklin set a personal goal of “arriving at moral perfection.” To achieve this goal, he adopted a list of 13 virtues – a list of moral virtues distilled from his studies. This list would go on to serve him throughout his life.

Ben’s 13 virtues:

  1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. Industry: Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.
  11. Tranquillity: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


If you have the time, you can learn more about Ben’s 13 virtues by reading his autobiography.