Stuck With a Patriotic Name Like Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin

PHOTO: benjamin franlin

Using a credit card at a grocery story is usually uneventful, unless your name is Benjamin Franklin.

"The cashier always does a double take. They never believe me," Benjamin Franklin, 36, of Brooklyn, N.Y., told ABC News. "It's happened ever since I was a kid."

"People never forget me," Franklin added.

Franklin is part of a small group of Americans named after founding fathers. At times they can have a complicated relationship with their larger-than-life monikers.

"If I had a choice, I wouldn't have given myself this name," Thomas Jefferson, 79, a war veteran who lives in Harlem, told ABC News. "But, of course, you don't get to choose your name."

Living with names like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson can be hard, especially for children.

"It wasn't very fun growing up with this name," John Hancock, 49, of Manhattan, told ABC News. "There was a John Hancock jingle that was popular when I was a kid that I hated. But you suck it up and move on."

"People think you're a joke," said George Washington, 53, who lives in Manhattan. "That's something that's hard to deal with when you're young. It's annoying and the hard part is that even when you get older, it doesn't get better."

In some families, naming children after a founding father is a tradition.

"I'm actually Benjamin Franklin IV," Franklin said. "My father, grandfather and great-grandfather are all named after Benjamin Franklin."

Jefferson chose not to give his children his famous name.

"I refused to give any of my seven sons my name," he said. "But I did name my oldest son 'Darryl Thomas Jefferson,' which was sort of my way of winking at tradition."

"The tradition behind the name is definitely important," Hancock said. "There was always a certain amount of pride. My name connects me to my country and not too many people I know can say they have this kind of connection."

But having such a historically significant name can come with some responsibility.

"A surprising number of people think Benjamin Franklin was a president," Franklin said. "I usually have to correct them."

"Growing up in Harlem, I always had to carry photo identification with me. If something happened, and I got stopped by the cops, I couldn't just tell them my name. They would think I was being a wise guy," Jefferson said.

For Washington, who is perhaps named after the most well-known founding father, his name can be difficult to reconcile with his heritage.

"I'm an African-American. President Washington had a complicated relationship with things like slavery, and having his name chips away at my identity. I'm patriotic, but you have to deal with the facts," he said.

"Really all you can do is laugh at it," said Jefferson, who is also African-American. "It is really more fun than anything. I tell people that if they're really nice to me, I'll give them an autograph."

"My name is who I am," Franklin said. "I have a tattoo of a kite and key in a lightning storm on my back. In a way, this will always be mine."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The fake baby a man was carrying as he and another woman tried to sneak into the mother and baby unit at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., hospital officials said.
Dignity Health Security/Mercy Medical Center Merced
Leopard Cub Chills in a Basket
Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection