The Ben Franklin biography you read in school probably only emphasized the dry, political and scientific accomplishments of this founding father. What you may not know is that Franklin was not only our most notable Founding Father, he could out-pimp James Bond, and scheme better than P.T. Barnum.
Born in Boston in 1706, Ben Franklin's father wanted him to enter the clergy. Luckily for the future lothario, his father could only afford two years of schooling. Instead, Ben was apprenticed to a printer. When Franklin was fifteen, his older brother founded Boston's first newspaper, and Ben pulled his first scheme. Knowing his brother wouldn't let him write for the paper, he became "Silence Dogood", a sassy woman who mocked culture in general, and the treatment of women in particular, and would slip these under the newspaper's door. They were an instant hit, but after sixteen letters, Ben confessed to his brother James, making him both angry and jealous. Ben, tired of the beatings, finally decided to run away, which was illegal, at age seventeen.
Ben Franklin eventually landed in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, he used the last of his money to buy some rolls and, soaking wet, his future wife, Deborah Read, first saw him. He ended up staying with the Reads, but his unwillingness to marry resulted in her rejecting him. He soon found work as an apprentice printer and was so successful, the Governor sent him on his first trip abroad to pick up supplies in exchange for funding his own business. But he reneged on the deal, stranding Ben in London for two years as he worked to earn money for his trip back.
Once back in Philadelphia, at age twenty , he soon earned enough to open his own print shop and quickly garner Government contracts for his thriving business. Ben Franklin fathered his first child in 1728 with a prostitute. With Ben in need of a mother for his child, and Debroah's husband having run off, they married and had two children. In 1729, Franklin bought the "Pennsylvania Gazette", which he used not only to get a rise out of people while writing under pseudonyms, but drew the first political cartoons, and spread political ideals.
Ben Franklin worked as hard as he partied, and founded the "Farmer's Almanac" in 1733. He used this publication not only to predict weather and coin wise sayings, but to spite his enemies as well, such as using an alias to predict a competitor's death. When he didn't die, Franklin went ahead and published that he did anyway, and that some imposter was printing as the deceased. When the man actually died, he took the joke to the obvious conclusion: he congratulated the "imposter" on finally ending the charade. Franklin spent the 1730's and 1740's founding the first fire department, library, and fire insurance company. He also experimented with electricity, though no lightning struck his kite, and created many inventions.
From the 1750's onward, Ben Franklin would spend much of his time overseas, working on behalf of colonists, and later, revolutionaries. Estranged from his wife, who refused to join him, Franklin took "comfort" in the beds of many women, and joined the Hellfire Club, which centered around mocking the religion and planning rocking orgies, and had a self-confessed weakness for "low" ladies. Somehow, in all of this, he managed to become notorious in France for his partying while never contracting an STD. He managed to convince the French king to support the American revolution and defeat the British.
Ben Franklin returned permanently to America in the 1780's. Now in his 70's, he continued to write, including an anti-slavery treatise, while still flirting with the ladies. He finally passed away at the age of 84, with the simple epitaph, "A Printer", instead of the far more appropriate Franklin quote, "wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy."
What Others Are Reading Right Now.
Acting, comedy and strong spirits converge in Speakeasy. When host Paul F. Tompkins interviews entertainers—Key and Peele, Alison Brie, Rob Delaney, Zach Galifianakis—about all sor …
Made Man Food Shows
We all love great food—and the people who make it! Our culinary video series introduces you to the country's best chefs and experts, so you can become one yourself. Pull up a chair …