03) FRANKLIN MORAL: Was Benjamin Franklin a womanizer in France and America? Did he father as many as thirteen illegitimate children?
- Benjamin Franklin Philadelphia home: Franklin Court, (322 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106)
“I am going to bear my testimony to this assembly, if I never do it again in my life, that those men who laid the foundation of this American government and signed the Declaration of Independence were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits, not wicked men. General Washington and all the men that labored for the purpose were inspired of the Lord. . . .
Everyone of those men that signed the Declaration of Independence, with General Washington, called upon me, as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Temple at St. George, two consecutive nights, and demanded at my hands that I should go forth and attend to the ordinances of the House of God for them.” 1
Ezra Taft Benson
“The temple work for the fifty-six signers of the Declaration of Independence and other Founding Fathers had been done. All these appeared to Wilford Woodruff when he was president of the St. George Temple. President George Washington was ordained a high priest at that time. You will also be interested to know that, according to Wilford Woodruff’s journal, John Wesley, Benjamin Franklin, and Christopher Columbus were also ordained high priests at that time. When one casts doubt about the character of these noble sons of God, I believe he or she will have to answer to the God of heaven for it. Yes, with Lincoln I say: ‘To add brightness to the sun or glory to the name of Washington is . . . impossible. Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name and in its deathless splendor, leave it shining on.'” 2
“The Founding Fathers of this nation, those great men, appeared within those sacred walls of the St. George Temple and had their vicarious work done for them. President Wilford Woodruff spoke of it in these words: ‘Before I left St. George, the spirits of the dead gathered around me, wanting to know why we did not redeem them. Said they, ‘You have had the use of the Endowment House for a number of years, and yet nothing has ever been done for us. We laid the foundation of the government you now enjoy, and we never apostatized from it, but we remained true to it and were faithful to God.’
After he became President of the Church, President Wilford Woodruff declared that ‘those men who laid the foundation of this American government were the best spirits the God of heaven could find on the face of the earth. They were choice spirits [and] were inspired of the Lord.'” 3 4
“Carl Van Doren, whose masterful biography of Franklin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, noted that ‘there is no support for the tradition which insists that the philosopher was a lively lecher in France.’ Another historian has asked, ‘Did he really have affairs with French women? There is no shred of evidence. In that age of diaries and memoirs not a single Parisienne ever boasted that she had captured the famous philosopher.’ And a third scholar places the whole matter in perspective: In any sophisticated social gathering at which the name of Benjamin Franklin comes up, somebody is almost sure to remark with a leer, ‘Say, that old boy was quite a man with the ladies,’ or ‘Wasn’t he the old reprobate?’ This concept of the worthy doctor seems to have started many years after his death and to have grown during recent years-there is no reference to it in early writings about him, except for scurrilous political slander regarding his son William’s legitimacy. There is not one iota of evidence in history to justify this image. True, Franklin liked women, and many women adored Franklin. He was closely associated with several, ranging from eleven-year-old Catherine Shipley in England to sixtyish Madame Helvetius in France. He spent much time in their company, and some of his most interesting writing is in correspondence with female friends. But there is nothing to indicate that his relations with any of them were other than gallant and intellectual. No wonder Jefferson wrote in later years: ‘I have seen, with extreme indignation, the blasphemies lately vended against the memory of the father of American philosophy. But his memory will be preserved and venerated as long as the thunder of heaven shall be heard or feared.'” 5
- Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report, April 1989, pp. 89-90 ↩
- Ezra Taft Benson, This Nation Shall Endure, p. 18 ↩
- Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, April 1898, p. 89 ↩
- Ezra Taft Benson, Conference Report, October 1987, Ensign 17 [November 1987]: 6 ↩
- Andrew Allison, The Real Benjamin Franklin, p. 232-233 ↩