Or, You mean Hate Groups make stuff up?!
First appearing in February 1934 in Liberation, the literary brainchild of one William Dudley Pelley, and with Hitler already well up the ladder of pre-war German government, the Franklin Prophecy was a speech attributed to American statesman Benjamin Franklin. Allegedly given at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, the diatribe outlined Franklin's argument for the expulsion of Jews from the nascent United States. He prophesized a future of highly undesirable and massive immigration of Jews into the country, which would of course threaten or even destroy the Christian ideals upon which the nation had been founded.
This is the version you're most likely to encounter in the wild:
There is a great danger for the United States of America. This great danger is the Jew. Gentlemen, in every land the Jews have settled, they have depressed the moral level and lowered the degree of commercial honesty. They have remained apart and unassimilated; oppressed, they attempt to strangle the nation financially, as in the case of Portugal and Spain.
For more than seventeen hundred years they have lamented their sorrowful fate--namely, that they have been driven out of their homeland; but, gentlemen, if the civilized world today should give them back Palestine and their property, they would immediately find pressing reason for not returning there. Why? Because they are vampires and vampires cannot live on other vampires --they cannot live among themselves. They must live among Christians and others who do not belong to their race.
If they are not expelled from the United States by the Constitution within less than one hundred years, they will stream into this country in such numbers that they will rule and destroy us and change our form of Government for which we Americans shed our blood and sacrificed our life, property and personal freedom. If the Jews are not excluded within two hundred years, our children will be working in the field to feed Jews while they remain in the counting houses, gleefully rubbing their hands.
I warn you, gentlemen, if you do not exclude the Jews forever, your children and your children's children will curse you in their graves. Their ideas are not those of Americans, even when they lived among us for ten generations. The leopard cannot change his spots. The Jews are a danger to this land, and if they are allowed to enter, they will imperil our institutions. They should be excluded by the Constitution.
In the midst of the Great Depression, with anti-semitism growing to towering heights in Europe and discontent brewing at home, the environment was ideal for the inflamation of lingering, undirected anger. The Prophecy circulated through the country with alarming speed. It wasn't long till the speech appeared in the following places and media:
Though many stepped forward to descry the speech as an obvious forgery, just as many lent their credibility to its authenticity. Additional "historical" names were attached to the document to maintain its veracity, including that of Charles Pinckney, delegate to the Convention from South Carolina. Supporters of the Prophecy claimed he had recorded the speech, or made note of it, in a private diary currently in the possession of Philadelphia's Franklin Institute.
As is typically the case with articles such as these, the fervor gradually died away, especially with the arrest and conviction of William Pelley on sedition charges in 1942. However, the Prophecy resurfaced in the 1950s, drawing new life from a fresh wave of anti-Semitism fostered by McCarthyism and the association of Jews with Communism. Copies of the speech turned up in Florida, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Alabama on War Department stationery. Throughout the decade, several organizations and persons associated with anti-semitism put it back on their required reading lists, including:
The speech seemed to be taking hold all over again, though not to the extent that it had in the thirties.
Stemming the Tide
The post-war world was at least a little more prepared to exercise its sense of logic, and a few great minds came out to settle the speech's hash once and for all.
- Charles A. Beard, historian, attacked the document not only from the standpoint of entirely absent supporting evidence and original material, but on the level of diction as well. 18th Century Jews would not have used the word "homeland" in connection with Palestine, and neither would anyone else.
- John Clyde Oswald, of the International Benjamin Franklin Society, noted that in 1787 Franklin was eighty-one years old, and contributed to the proceedings of the convention in writing only. He handed his notes to James Wilson who recorded himself as having kept a complete collection of them--a collection that did not include the Prophecy.
- Carl Van Doren, professor, historian, and Franklin biographer, dismissed the speech as a clear forgery, its provenance based on a non-existent manuscript, a never before seen pamphlet, and a journal lost over a century ago.
In the nineties, the Prophecy naturally found its way to the internet, where many hate groups--call them what you will--post it proudly as evidence of the American forefather's clairvoyant assessment of the imminent Jewish menace to the American Dream.
However, they have practically nothing to back them up.
While the true origin of the Prophecy remains unknown, and many still embrace it as the genuine article, no credible historian has ever come forward to support it, and few if any are currently wasting time trying to discredit it: every sieg-heiling, heel-clicking, swastika-bearing moron who utters it does a much a better job of that than they could.