Central Institute of American Historical Studies

Franklin was known as a renaissance man that strongly engaged the ever growing popular thought of the European enlightenment thinkers. He was a friend of Voltaire and talked with Him regularly during his journeys to France. Voltaire was a phenomenon, a humorist, an iconoclast, and a humanitarian, with a love of science and astronomy.[1] It was nothing shy of a natural friendship for them both to interact and share the world of philosophy and science they both were experiencing.  

He was very captivated by the esoteric movement of his day. His personal preferences and tastes were often in question, some of what was because he was an active member of many of the fraternal lodges we know today, including the Free and Accepted Masons. Franklin often boasted in his communications to others that he had only missed a handful of masonic lodge meetings in his entire life. He was also easily identified with the Rosicrucian movement and many believe he was involved to some extent in the Illuminati, which was founded in Germany on May 1, 1776 by a university professor named Adam Weishaupt.

Benjamin Franklin was asked by the Continental Congress to go Paris in December 1776 to solicit money, arms and personnel from the French government for the colonist’s Revolutionary War efforts. It is highly probable that during this trip he was introduced to Weishaupt and the newly formed Illuminati society. Franklin’s social and philosophical lifestyle would have placed him in an optimum relationship with those who were in such circles of fellowship. Such a list of members would be just as unavailable as the agenda of such secretive Illuminati society meetings would be. No one really knows who exactly comprised the membership of this order except Weishaupt himself. But there is little or no doubt at all that Franklin was connected directly to the Illuminati in some way or another.

The Illuminati would have provided Franklin with support and assurance in his quest to build the American revolutionary forces against the vast strength of the British Empire. Weishaupt inspired much of his Illuminati constituency by putting forth such language as; “To return to man his fundament rights of equality and liberty. We shall begin by destroying every religion and every civil society. And finish, abolishing property.”(Adam Weishaupt) [2]        

His darker side was often more noticeable while he was in England. He was known to be a member of a so called gentlemen’s club referred to in London as the “Hellfire Club”. This was a very private club that met regularly to participate in most every kind of debauchery. The Hellfire Club had great disdain for Christianity.[3] Thus, it followed well with the enlightenment philosophy that Mr. Franklin typically subscribed to.

A few months before Franklin died he received a letter regarding his faith and what his views were concerning the Christian faith. This was not uncommon in his day. Many of the leading Pastors and theologians would attempt to obtain a positive Christian testimony or statement of Christian belief from the founding fathers as they drew nearer to their death. This was so that their response could be used as an example to the general public of the influence Christianity had played in the founding of America.   

The following is from a letter that Benjamin Franklin wrote to Ezra Styles who was then president of Yale University. “As to Jesus of Nazareth, my opinion of whom you particularly desire; I think the system of morals of his religion as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see, but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have with most of the present dissenters in England, some doubts as to his divinity.”[4] In essence Franklin appreciates the morality of Jesus Christ, but does not accept His divine authority.

Mr. Franklin was a very talented and creative personality. He played the guitar, the harp and violin[5]. More notable, his inventions include the “Franklin Stove” for heating and for cooking, a musical instrument called the “Glass Armonica”, bifocal glasses and the first flexible urinary catheter. He never patented any of his inventions.   

He discovered the elementary attributes of electricity and began the various processes of harnessing electricity for productive use.  In 1750 Franklin recommended the use of grounded lightning rods for houses ships and even towers and churches. The practice of grounding buildings to protect them from dangerous lightning strikes is still used today[6].

Franklin also established an organization titled “Junto” – a self-improvement society for artisans[7]. It was a compilation of some of the most creative people in the city of Philadelphia and its closely surrounding community. Many of its members combined their knowledge and abilities to carry out the various plans that Benjamin Franklin would discuss with them.    

Benjamin Franklin’s political contributions to the forming of the United States of America as a recognized nation are numerous. Congress appointed a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman to draft what we know as the Declaration of Independence[8]. When asked, Franklin declined to be the primary writer of the Declaration of independence. He quickly and graciously moved the authorship of that document into the skilled penmanship of Thomas Jefferson.

Mr. Franklin was more than happy to help edit the language as he felt the need. Franklin crossed out part of chief author Jefferson’s statement “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” in favor of ”We hold these truths to be self evident,” changing their origin from a divine gift to a rational conclusion.[9]

[1] Morgan, Adrian  When Franklin Met Voltaire (, 2010)  p.3

[2] Sagel, Gabriel  Secret Societies : The String Pullers (BFS Media and Entertainment, 2007 DVD) narration

[3] Pinto, Christian J. Secret Mysteries of America’s Beginnings (Antiquities Research Films, 2010 DVD) narration

[4] Pinto, Christian J. The Hidden Faith of the Founding Fathers (Adullam Films, 2012 DVD) narration

[5] Fleming, Thomas Liberty! The American Revolution (New York, Viking Press, 1997) p. 24

[6] Randolph, Ryan P. Benjamin Franklin Inventor Writer and Patriot (New York, Rosen Publishing, 2003) p.44

[7] Boyer, Paul S. United States History (New York, Oxford Press, 2001) p.290

[8] Boyer, Paul S. United States History (New York, Oxford Press, 2001) p.176

[9] Knauer, Kelly America An Illustrated History (New York, Time Books,, 2007) p. 12

Central Institute of  American Historical Studies
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