Ben Franklin: Inventor, scientist, diplomat, serious player – You & Me Bench

Ben Franklin: Inventor, scientist, diplomat, serious player

What sparks new relationships? What makes enduring relationships last? What exactly does it mean to BE in a relationship in the first place?

These are some of the questions we asked ourselves this summer when putting together our You & Me Bench project. We found some pretty interesting answers to our questions right here with one of our Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin.

As a young man, Franklin met his first and only wife, Deborah Reed, in Philadelphia when he lodged at her family's home right around the fall of 1723.

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You know, a classic illegitimate family lodge love story.

This is where things begin to get, as current tabloids call it, “juicy”. Reed was Franklin's only wife, but Franklin was NOT Reed's only husband.

When Ben, at age 17 and Deborah, at age 15 first met, Deborah's mother told Ben that he could not marry her daughter due to Franklin's financial insecurity. Haven’t we all been there in our teens?

This is when Deborah went on to marrying a man named John Rodgers. Unfortunately for Deborah's mother, but fortunately for Ben Franklin, John Rodgers turned out to be a liar and a thief so the wedding did not last.

Since Deborah had officially been married to this "thief", the laws at the time prohibited her to ever marry again.

Even this did not stop her and Ben's rekindling relationship. With certain marriage laws in their way, both of them found a way to institute a common-law marriage.

A common-law marriage is defined as, "A form of marriage, available in some jurisdictions, that may be established by meeting certain legal requirements such as declaring the intent to be regarded as married and cohabiting, rather than as a result of obtaining an official license" (

Therefore, Ben Franklin was NEVER ACTUALLY MARRIED. There was no ceremony or reception, just a document signed to maneuver around strict marriage laws.

Ben brought an “illegitimate” son named William into the marriage and together, Deborah and Ben had two children of their own.

Their "marriage" lasted 44 years before Deborah passed away from a stroke in 1774.

Due to Franklin's many travels as a diplomat of the United States, he was apart from Deborah for a total of 18 out of the 44 years of their "marriage".

Deborah, as many reports say, stayed faithful to Ben, while Ben was rumored to sleep around with a lot of "lower women", something E News would feast on now-a-days.

So there it is. One of Philadelphia's most infamous icons had a very odd relationship (or relationships). A man who had ties to so many people throughout the world never was traditionally tied to his wife.

From 1723 to now, we realize that relationships can take on many different shapes and forms. The motivations may vary and truth be told, who’s to judge what a relationship is or isn’t.

The question then presents itself: Are there any modern relationships that you’d describe as revolutionary or downright unconventional? Did someone say Kanye and Kim? Barack and Michelle? Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell? We’d love to hear about them.

"common-law marriage." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 7 July 2016. <>.
"How Many Times Was Benjamin Franklin Married? ." YourDictionary, n.d. Web. 7 July 2016. <>.
Stritof, Sheri. "Deborah and Benjamin Franklin Marriage Profile." Dating & Relationships. About Relationships, 08 Feb. 2016. Web. 07 July 2016.

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