1/ The folks who keep sharing this quote in protest of the stay at home orders are really, really wrong regarding the meaning of the quote. When understood in context, this quote supports the state governments and their obligation to protect the public welfare. Let me explain.
2/ The quote is from a 1755 letter Franklin wrote on behalf of the PA Assembly to the colonial governor during the French & Indian War. There was a power struggle between the governor & the PA Assembly over funding for security on the PA frontier.
3/ The PA Assembly wanted to impose a tax on land owned by the Penn family to raise money to fund the French & Indian War. The governor, a friend of the Penn's kept vetoing the tax. So Franklin wasn't writing as a citizen being required to surrender his liberty to government.
4/ He was writing as a legislator being asked to surrender his power to tax. The “essential liberty” to which Franklin refers was the right of a legislature to act in the interests of collective security. The phrase “purchase a little temporary safety...” (continued)
5/ ...was in response to the Penn family who offered money to fund a defense against attacks, but only if the Assembly would state that it lacked the power to tax the family’s lands. So Franklin wasn't describing a battle between government power and individual liberty.
6/ Rather he was saying that trading away self government & government power to protect the social welfare (the ability to tax the Penn land to fund a defense) in the service of short term security (taking the cash but giving up power) was unacceptable.
7/ In the present context, Franklin's words could well mean that those who would sacrifice a state's obligation to protect social welfare in exchange for short term economic benefit deserve neither the liberty to make money nor the safety provided to them by the state. End
As a quick aside, during the 2nd Bush Administration in was the Left who consistently used this quote out of context to protest the War on Terror. The same protection of social welfare obligation could've been cited.