Benjamin Franklin is one of the giants among the Founding Fathers.  He is certainly not a minor character.  Although I use him in my current manuscript in progress, he is a secondary character, not a minor one.

This current story is set in London at the end of 1773, just prior to the American Revolution’s start.  Franklin was the colonial representative to England at the time, trying to mediate the Americans’ concerns to Parliament.  The Boston Tea Party occurs, which angers the English.  Franklin’s offer to personally reimburse for the tea is rejected—a little known fact that I mention in my manuscript.

There are lots of little known facts about Franklin.  My brother told me about discovering Franklin’s son Francis died of smallpox when four years old.  This was his only legitimate son.  He did have an illegitimate son who became the Royal Governor of New Jersey during the Revolution.  The child’s death haunted Franklin for the rest of his life because the smallpox vaccination was available.  Should he have had the child vaccinated?  We may think these debates are new, but actually, they’ve been going on for centuries.

Another recently discovered Franklin fact came to light when renovations were done on the house at 36 Craven Street, London where he had lived for almost 20 years.  In the basement, parts of 15 bodies were dug up—and they dated from Franklin’s time period.  A serial killer?  No, the most likely explanation was his friend ran a medical school in the basement.  Because there weren’t enough bodies for the students to use, grave robbers supplied the rest.  These bodies were likely used for learning and then buried there when done, since they couldn’t be returned to the grave sites.  The link below takes you to the Smithsonian Institute’s discussion of the bodies, but an internet search for Franklin bodies in the basement will reveal more.

One thing I have learned, there is so much more to Franklin, he could never be a minor character.