14 Horrifying Facts About The Founding Fathers They Purposely Cut Out Of History Books

Everyone grows up learning about George Washington's apple tree and Benjamin Franklin's kite-and-the-key experiment. It turns out that a lot of the things "everyone knows" about our Founding Fathers are either slightly or completely wrong, and the things most people don't know are actually terrifying. There are a lot of strange and shocking details about the Founding Fathers that were probably left out of your history textbooks on purpose. 

Who were the Founding Fathers? They were some of the most influential people in American history, and almost all of them were way more drunk and morally questionable than most people can remember. And while we often look back at the American Revolution through rose-colored glasses, the truth is that these men weren't always so noble. It's not easy creating a nation from scratch, and nothing proves it quite like the dark American history surrounding these Founding Fathers. 

  • The Bones Found In Benjamin Franklin's London Home

    The phrase "skeletons in the closet" takes on a very literal meaning when used in reference to Benjamin Franklin. In 1998, renovators working on Franklin's London home uncovered 1,200 pieces of human bone. The pieces came from different parts of the body and from about 15 specimens - six of whom were children.

    While on the surface it appears Ben Franklin started off as the original Jack the Ripper, experts say it's far more likely the Founding Father assisted an underground anatomy school by helping sneak bodies from the graveyard and gallows. Back in the day, studying bodies was considered morally reprehensible, and early pioneers in the field often had to acquire them in secret to do their studies.

  • The Urinary Tract Blockage That Ended A New York Senator

    Many Founding Fathers finished their lives poor, ill, and/or in any number of tragic ways, but few passed on as awfully as New York Senator Gouverneur Morris. During his life, Morris helped draft the preamble of the Constitution and walked on a peg leg. Rumor says he got this peg leg by leaping out of the bedroom window of a married woman he was sleeping with to avoid her angry husband.  

    Morris perished in 1816 at the age of 64 after trying to cure a urinary tract blockage.

  • George Washington Abused Legal Loopholes In Order To Permanently Enslave People

    George Washington, who inherited ownership of his first enslaved people at the age of 10, used legal loopholes to keep people enslaved throughout his life, even as abolition took hold throughout the North. While living in Philadelphia, he found a way to get around the Gradual Abolition Act of 1780, which stated any enslaved person who lived in the state of Pennsylvania for more than six months was free.

    Washington would secretly send enslaved people on trips outside state borders every six months to constantly reset the clock and ensure they would not be legally free.

  • They Drank More Than Double The Alcohol That The Modern Person Drinks

    A modern day American averages about two gallons of alcohol per year. Back then, your average colonist guzzled seven gallons per year and was a few beers into the day by lunch.    

    number of theories attempt to explain the Founding Fathers' extreme proclivity for alcohol, other than the fact that starting a country is stressful business. These theories range from the scarcity of clean water to a widespread belief that water was bad for you to the idea that only poor people drank water. Back in the day, beer and cider were also not considered alcohol. And no one stopped them, because what timing is worse for an intervention than a freaking revolution?

  • The Oldest Founder Hid From The British By Living Outside In The New Jersey Winter

    The Oldest Founder Hid From The British By Living Outside In The New Jersey Winter
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    As the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence, 65-year-old "Honest John" Hart faced especially terrible consequences for his patriotism. In 1776, he began to lose everything. Within months of signing the Declaration, his wife of 36 years passed while British forces forced him and his 13 children from their New Jersey home. He sent the youngest children to live with neighbors.

    According to legend, Hart spent a long time hiding from the British by living in caves, open fields, and the forest. As this elderly man toiled in the elements, the British looted his property, slew all of his livestock, and partially destroyed his home. 

  • Dr. Benjamin Rush Tried Treating Yellow Fever With Forced Vomiting And Bloodletting, Making Philly's Epidemic Worse

    In the summer of 1793, yellow fever swept the city of Philadelphia, taking out thousands of people. Though the city's doctors ranked among the best in the world, they lacked the knowledge of how to treat the disease or prevent its contraction. Signer of the Declaration of Independence Dr. Benjamin Rush, among the most respected medical pioneers of his day, believed purging the body through bloodletting and forced vomiting would cure patients. As it turns out, these fluid-based treatments failed to help patients; if anything, they likely made their situations worse.

    His peers harshly criticized his efforts, and to this day, historians still debate whether or not he qualifies as a hero or villain of Philadelphia history. Despite a large community of physicians openly critiquing his practices, Dr. Rush wouldn't stop bleeding his sick patients and forcing them to vomit.