The Wind Beneath His Wigs: Franklin’s Hilarious Homage to Farting

In the annals of history, there are few figures as revered and beloved as Benjamin Franklin. Founding Father, inventor, diplomat, writer, and connoisseur of flatulence. Yes, you read that correctly. Among Franklin’s many contributions to society, there lies an essay so bold, so audacious, it makes one question why it isn’t celebrated with fireworks and parades. I speak, of course, of Franklin’s magnum opus, “Fart Proudly.”

It was 1781, and Franklin was ensconced in the glittering salons of Paris, serving as the American ambassador to France. The city was a whirlwind of powdered wigs, philosophical debates, and the clinking of crystal glasses filled with the finest wines. Franklin, ever the polymath, navigated these circles with ease, his charm and wit endearing him to the French elite. It was during this period, amidst negotiations and diplomacy, that Franklin decided to pen his infamous essay, originally titled “A Letter to a Royal Academy.”

Imagine, if you will, a meeting of the American Philosophical Society. The air is thick with the smell of powdered wigs, and the gentlemen are droning on about electricity and bifocals. Suddenly, Franklin, ever the iconoclast, stands up and declares, “Gentlemen, I propose we discuss the noble art of flatulence!”

A Revolutionary Rumble

The room falls silent. Alexander Hamilton raises an eyebrow; George Washington’s wooden teeth clack together in astonishment. This is the same Franklin who flew a kite in a thunderstorm, the same Franklin who negotiated peace with the British, and now he wants to talk about farts? The absurdity of it all is enough to make one choke on their snuff.

Franklin, with a twinkle in his eye and a smile playing on his lips, begins to read. His essay, written with all the gravitas of a state constitution, argues that society should embrace and even celebrate the act of passing gas. He critiques the vanity of perfume makers who attempt to mask natural odors and laments the lack of scientific endeavor in improving the smell of our bodily emissions. After all, if man can harness the power of lightning, why not the power of a well-timed fart?

The essay is a masterpiece of satire. Franklin employs his sharp wit to mock the prudish sensibilities of his time, suggesting that a “farting contest” might be a more fitting pursuit for the learned gentlemen of the Royal Academy. He envisions a world where people could gather at salons not to discuss politics or art, but to sample and judge each other’s flatulence like fine wine.

In the audience, Thomas Jefferson is trying to maintain his composure, but his shoulders are shaking with suppressed laughter. John Adams, ever the curmudgeon, is muttering under his breath about the degradation of moral standards. But Franklin is undeterred. He presses on, suggesting that if such a contest were to take place, it would surely be the highlight of any social calendar.

Franklin’s essay, though humorous, was not without purpose. He was a man who delighted in challenging societal norms and encouraging others to think outside the box—no matter how unconventional the subject. His humor was a tool, a means to provoke thought and inspire change. And what better way to shake people out of their complacency than to talk about something everyone does but no one wants to discuss?

Franklin’s love for humor and satire was well-known among his contemporaries. He was the man who wrote under the pseudonym of Silence Dogood and Poor Richard, crafting witty and wise aphorisms that still resonate today. Yet, “Fart Proudly” remains one of his lesser-known works, perhaps because it strikes a chord too close to home for many.

Imagine the scene: a candlelit room filled with the most prominent figures of the day, their faces red from laughter and embarrassment. Franklin, standing at the center, a gleam of mischief in his eye, relishing the chaos he has wrought. For him, this was not just a joke, but a statement. A reminder that no matter how grand our achievements, we are all still human. And sometimes, the best way to remind people of that is with a good, old-fashioned fart joke.

The Perils of Rich French Cuisine

Franklin’s tenure in Paris was not just filled with diplomatic triumphs and scientific discussions. His time in the City of Light was also marked by interactions with some of the greatest minds of the Enlightenment, including the legendary Voltaire. One can’t help but wonder if, during one of their many encounters, Franklin ever broached the subject of flatulence with the famed philosopher. Did Voltaire, with his razor-sharp wit and penchant for challenging societal norms, engage in a spirited debate on the virtues of the humble fart? It’s a tantalizing thought, imagining these two intellectual giants sparring over the social and scientific implications of breaking wind.

Franklin’s essay “Fart Proudly” was written as a letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels, and it circulated among his friends and acquaintances rather than being formally published in his lifetime. This clandestine dissemination only added to its allure, making it a delightful secret shared among the enlightened few. It wasn’t until many years later that “Fart Proudly” found its way into print, ensuring that future generations could appreciate Franklin’s humor and insight.

So the next time you find yourself in polite company, and you feel that familiar rumble in your belly, remember Benjamin Franklin. Remember his courage to speak the unspeakable, and take heart. You are part of a grand tradition, one that dates back to the very founding of this great nation. Fart proudly, my friends. Fart proudly.