Ben Franklin Slipped an Anti-Big Gov't Phrase Onto US's First Penny


One of our nation’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, is famous for his works in science, politics and business, but he was also a big believer in limited government.

While many may be familiar with Franklin’s contributions to American history, they may not know that he was involved with the creation of the country’s first copper cent.

According to, Franklin suggested the design for the coin, known as the “Fugio cent,” in 1787. In that design, we can see clues of his desire to keep the government out of the lives of Americans.

One side of the penny bears the message “Mind Your Business” below an image of a sun and sundial. An image of the sun above a sundial also appears on the coin, along with the word “fugio.”

“Fugio” is Latin for “I fly,” and the word, along with the image of the sundial, represents the expression “time flies,” according to CoinSite.

Conservative House Republicans Threaten to Sink Biden, McCarthy Deal: 'We're Going to Try'

The other side of the coin shows a chain with 13 links.

They symbolize the newly liberated American states, with the motto “We Are One” encircled with “United States” in the center of the coin.

Take a look:

There are several variations of the Fugio cent.

According to CoinQuest, a well-preserved copy of any of these coins is worth as much as $3,000.

While we often use the phrase, “mind your own business” while referring to nosy busybodies, many believe that the message, “mind your business” was intended for business owners to keep an eye on their affairs.

Keeping the government out of business was at least one way to plan for success for the fledgling country.

Similarly, the phrase, “we are one” seems to encourages people to look out for each other, as well as reminding the citizens of different states that they were all part of one nation, one that was born in the cause of freedom and liberty.

Resident Cheers John Mellencamp's New Song for Portland: 'Land of Plenty Where Nothing Gets Done'

These messages are no surprise to those who are familiar with Franklin’s opinions about limited government and the freedom of the people.

For years, the statesman published Poor Richard’s Almanack, which contained a calendar, weather outlooks, astronomical as well as popular sayings and proverbs, so it is not surprising to see Franklin slip an important message for the people on a coin.

While accepting individual responsibility (“mind your business”), we must stand together and resist an overly oppressive government if we are to enjoy our God-given freedoms.

What better way to remind people of this than to put it on a coin that would circulate through the population?

Share this story on Facebook and Twitter to spread the word about this coin.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.