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What did Ben Franklin mean when he said "we must all hang together or most assuredly we...

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bonny15 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 5, 2009 at 12:54 PM via web

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What did Ben Franklin mean when he said "we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang seperately"?

What did Ben Franklin mean when he said "we must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang seperately"

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 5, 2009 at 1:17 PM (Answer #1)

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Benjamin Franklin said this famous line at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776.  The meaning of the quote was that the signers of the Declaration, as well as colonists in general, had to help each other and support each other or they were doomed.

The line is, of course, a pun.  Franklin is using the figure of speech "hang together" to mean "stick together" or "support one another."  He puns that with the phrase "hang separately."  By this, he means being executed by hanging.

So he is saying that if they do not support each other, they will be executed.  By extension, he is saying that if they colonies as a whole do not support one another they will all be defeated by England.

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krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted December 5, 2009 at 6:05 PM (Answer #2)

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During signing of the Declaration of independence in 1776, Benjamin Franklin spoke these famous words - "Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we will all hang seperately" - in reply to a comment by Hancock that they must all together.

Hancock's comment was intended to convey the need for the different American colonies that joined in the signing of the declaration of independence to, remain united. Franklin's reply expressed his agreement with the views of Hancock, and extended his statement to point out the dire consequences of not remaining united. The first part of statement of Franklin used the hang in the sense of being or remaining, while the second part of the statement used the word in the sense of hanging a person by the rope to cause death. Thus, by this statement, Benjamin Franklin emphasized that unless all the colonies signing the declaration of independence continue to remain united and support each other, they will not be able to maintain their status as independent state free of British domination.

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