10 Little-known Facts About the Founding Fathers

Can you name the U.S. document whose preamble begins with those three words penned by the Founding Fathers? (Answer on last page.) Enterline Design Services, LLC/iStock/Thinkstock

If asked to come up with a fact or two about the founders of the United States, we tend to rely on the well-worn tales that have lodged in the collective memory. Many schoolchildren will repeat the (almost certainly bogus) story about Washington's cherry tree, while adults wink at the reputation of Benjamin "Good Time" Franklin and his inveterate womanizing.

But there are a lot more interesting -- and factually accurate -- stories out there about the better-known early patriots. And there's also a sizable population of Founding Fathers who we don't even know. In the following pages, we'll discover why Thomas Jefferson was running an estate poorer than Downton Abbey and why your "John Hancock" is so much less valuable than your "Button Gwinnett."

Let's start by solving the biggest mystery: who the Founding Fathers were.