The Rattlesnake Strategy That Went Viral

250 YEARS AGO, BEN FRANKLIN WROTE UP SOME CONTENT. IT WENT VIRAL... AND ACHIEVED THE IMPOSSIBLE.

Beloved for his wisdom and ideas, Ben Franklin was also a brilliant strategist. He learned early that much can be accomplished simply by out-thinking your enemies.

One practice by Great Britain that Franklin despised was the dumping of convicted criminals in the American colonies. So in 1751, Franklin wrote an essay comparing this heinous practice to releasing venomous rattlesnakes into our communities (which was a fair analogy).

But Franklin didn’t stop there. He also knew that Britain didn’t have much in the way of poisonous snakes.

So Franklin’s essay proposed that because Britain was engaging in commerce by sending us convicts (who acted like rattlesnakes once released) that we should at least reciprocate by sending Britain actual American rattlesnakes (which he said could be easily collected by the thousands early in the Spring). One rattlesnake for every felon, he suggested.

But that wasn’t all. To make sure his point was made, Franklin further proposed that these rattlesnakes should be released into the private gardens of British nobility and government ministers throughout London and Great Britain, plus revered public areas like St. James and Hyde Park.

His was a simple essay that well… went viral for its time. And guess what happened? Within a few years, Britain ended their practice of dumping their criminals in our colonies.

No threats of war. No shots fired. Just a sarcastic essay… which history proved to be a brilliant strategy.

Read excerpts of Franklin’s essay.

 

Thanks to my 13-year old historian for bringing this story to my attention.

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