"Doing Well by Doing Good"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 13 02:53:05 UTC 2013

Someone has asked me for information on the origin of the expression "do well by doing good" or "doing well by doing good."  Although this is frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin, the earliest citation I can find in 15 minutes of research is Tom Lehrer's 1953 song, "The Old Dope Peddler."  Can anyone supply any earlier evidence than that?

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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