Ben Franklin's Sexploits


Benjamin Franklin, oil on canvas by Joseph Siffred Duplessis. (VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images)

We often assume America's founding fathers were paragons of morality, but the United States was born a century after the Puritan era, and the times were a-changing. Perhaps the wildest founding father was Benjamin Franklin, who was known to let loose, especially in the bedroom.

He Liked Older (And Younger) Women

Before he was helping to establish a new nation, Franklin was a newspaper publisher and journalist who authored one of the first advice columns in the colonies. In one particularly juicy response to a letter from a young man looking for advice on controlling his sex drive, Franklin penned an essay titled "Advice To A Young Man On The Choice Of A Mistress," extolling the benefits of taking older women as lovers. Ol' Ben Frank liked younger women too, though. In 1754, when he was 48, Franklin was smitten with a young lady named Catherine Ray who was less than half his age, and in 1767, his friend Charles Wilson Peale wrote about catching Franklin kissing a young woman who was sitting on his lap.

He Bedded A Mother And Daughter

In 1757, Franklin rented a room in a London apartment building run by a widow named Margaret Stevenson who lived with her 18-year-old daughter, Peggy. During his 15-year residency, he indulged in the charms of both mother and daughter and even remained in contact with them after he moved back to the States. In his final year of life, Peggy moved to Philadelphia to care for him.

William Franklin (1730-1813), son of Benjamin Franklin. (David A Schorsch - Eileen M. Smiles/WIkimedia Commons)

A Naughty Letter Writer

Franklin penned hundreds of love letters to his current and previous lovers, many of which have survived, giving historians a glimpse into the often-dirty mind of this great American founding father. His letters contained reminiscences of past encounters, details of Franklin's plans for future encounters, and naughty poems and verses.

He May Have Fathered 15 Illegitimate Kids

Franklin had two children with his common-law wife, Deborah, but he also raised his illegitimate son, William, in his Philadelphia home. The true identity of William's mother is unknown, but some suggest she was the family's housekeeper. William was not Franklin's only illegitimate child, either. Historians contend that Franklin fathered at least 15 children with just as many women. His infidelities were well known, even to his wife, who turned a blind eye to her husband's extracurricular activities.

Deborah Read Franklin (c. 1759). (American Philosophical Society Library & Museum/Wikimedia Commons)

He Probably Belonged To An Orgy Club

Franklin spent nearly two decades living in Europe performing diplomatic work on behalf of the new nation, but it wasn't all business. In London, he was a frequent visitor to the Hellfire Club, an infamous club where the upper crust went to forget about social, religious, and moral restrictions. There were orgies, threesomes, same-sex encounters, and even pedophilia, as well as copious amounts of drinking, lavish banquets, and plays and skits that mocked Christianity.

He Took Paris By Storm

Franklin was already 70 years old when he took a diplomatic post in Paris in 1776, where he was, by all accounts, the toast of the town. He soon embarked on several affairs with married society women as well as a young musician and composer, Anne-Louise d'Hardancourt, though most researchers believe the latter was a one-way infatuation.