The Franklin "Prophecy"
Modern Anti-Semitic Myth Making

Introduction
The "Prophecy"
The Uses of the "Prophecy"
Documenting a Fraud


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Introduction

This article, which thoroughly documents the history of the transparent fraud known as the Franklin "Prophecy", appeared almost forty-five years ago in the April-May 1954 issue of Facts, a publication of the Anti-Defamation League. At the time, the authors wrote "This 20-year-old anti-Semitic hoax is circulating again." Today, more than sixty-five years after it was manufactured, the "Prophecy" it is still circulating, a staple of anti-Semitic propaganda. It can be found on a number of web sites maintained by haters and hate-groups. The article is, therefore, still timely and instructive

Another anti-Semitic hoax on history, of a piece with that incredible forgery, The Protocols of The Learned Elders of Zion, but not as widely distributed nor as successful in creating the pogrom atmospheres that were the achievements of the Protocols, is a speech attributed to Benjamin Franklin during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The anti-Semitic movement, which founded the hoax, calls it the Franklin Prophecy — ascribing to Franklin a dire warning that unless Jews were expelled from the new nation by Constitutional decree they would ultimately immigrate in great numbers to the detriment of the Christian population.

Of course, no such speech was ever made. But the hoaxers sought to impart an aura of historical credibility to the fake by claiming that the speech is quoted in a "private diary" of Charles Pinckney, Revolutionary leader who was delegate from South Carolina to the Constitutional Convention. They also maintain that the diary is now in the possession of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a bald lie which Henry Butler Allen, director of the Institute, has often refuted. Allen says that "historians and librarians have not been able to find [the diary] or any record of it having existed."

A copy of the forgery was anonymously circulated through the mails this month [May 1954] on stationery captioned WAR DEPARTMENT, OFFICE OF THE CHIEF OF STAFF. The envelope bore a May 3 postmark from Atlanta, Ga. This is the latest in a series of recent incidents that suggest another revival of the Prophecy. A copy was picked up earlier this year at a Tampa, Fla., bus stop, and there have been recent distributions of it in Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Alabama.



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This report originally appeared in the April-May 1954 issue of Facts, a publication of the Anti-Defamation League

2000 Anti-Defamation League