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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)
QUOTATION: We assemble parliaments and councils, to have the benefit of their collected wisdom; but we necessarily have, at the same time, the inconvenience of their collected passions, prejudices, and private interests. By the help of these, artful men overpower their wisdom, and dupe its possessors; and if we may judge by the acts, arrêts, and edicts, all the world over, for regulating commerce, an assembly of great men is the greatest fool upon earth.
ATTRIBUTION: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, letter to Benjamin Vaughan, July 26, 1784.—The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert H. Smyth, vol. 9, p. 241 (1906).