|Benjamin Franklin Gates|
January 7, 1964
|Behind the scenes|
- "I'm going to steal the Declaration of Independence."
- ―Benjamin Gates[src]
Dr. Benjamin Franklin Gates BA., MEng., PhD., is an American treasure hunter and cryptologist, famous for finding the Templar Treasure.
Ben was born on January 7, 1964, to Patrick Henry Gates and his wife, Emily. Grandson of John Adams Gates. In 1974, Ben was told by his grandfather, John Gates, about a treasure that goes back to the Freemasons and the Knights Templar which was so large that no one man could claim it. The story was a family legend which came from Ben's ancestor, Thomas Gates in the 1830s. This story permanently impacted Ben, starting him upon a lifelong journey to find the Templar Treasure. After high-school, Ben went on to recieve a Bachelors degree in archeology and cryptology at the University of Philadelphia, a Masters degree in mechanical engineering degree from MIT and a Doctorate in American History from Georgetown University. While in Georgetown, Ben also enlisted in the US Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps for the next four years and recieved official certification from their Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center before continuing the six generation family tradition of treasure hunting.
The Templar Treasure
When Ben's grandfather told him the legend of the Templar Treasure, he also told Ben about the first clue in the puzzle - “The secret lies with Charlotte.”
30 years later, Ben's passion to find the Templar Treasure is strong as ever. He relentlessly searches for more clues, and finally finds one…
The Charlotte turns out to be an ancient boat buried in ice and snow. Ben's colleague, Ian Howe, funds a trip to find the ship, so Ben Gates, Ian Howe, Riley Poole, and a couple of Ian's friends take a trip and find the Charlotte. They all dig the ship up and explore it, expecting to find the treasure itself - but all they find is barrels and barrels of gunpowder. One of the gunpowder barrels hid a 200-year-old Meerschaum Pipe with another clue built into the carvings. The clue points Ben towards the Declaration of Independence, leading him to believe there's a map on the back of the document written in invisible ink. Ian suggests they should steal the Declaration in order to examine the back of it, but Ben is against that plan immediately.
Ian, corrupted by the urge to find the treasure, betrays Ben and Riley. One of Ian's henchmen prepares to shoot Ben and Riley if he doesn't give them the next clue. Ben distracts them by lighting and tossing an emergency flare at his new enemies. Ian catches it but it lights his coat on fire, so he drops it. The burning flare ignites the spilt gunpowder all over the floor and the flame travels to the barrels full of the explosive powder. Ian and his friends flee before the ship blows up, but they trap Ben and Riley in the cargo hold. Ben and Riley hide in the smuggler's compartment and when the ship blows up, they are unharmed. Ian and his friends do not know this, and carry on their plan to steal the Declaration of Independence, thinking Ben and Riley are out of the picture.
When Ben and Riley tell Homeland Security and the FBI that someone wants to steal the Declaration of Independence they both write them off as lunatics. Ben Gates makes an appointment under an alias Paul Brown with a Dr. Abigail Chase. Abigail doesn't believe them, telling them that she has personally inspected the Declaration itself and never saw a map. Ben visits the National Archives and reads aloud a part of the Declaration that inspires him to take action to protect the Declaration from Ian. Ben Gates decides to steal the Declaration of Independence.
Riley doesn't believe anyone could ever possibly steal the Declaration of Independence. He shows Ben blueprints of the National Archives from the Library of Congress to show that the Declaration has some of the best security possible, including guards, heat sensors, and bulletproof glass. And even when the document isn't on display, it's in a password-protected vault. Ben then pulls out a book of his own, showing Riley the preservation room of the National Archives. This is where the documents are sent for cleaning to better preserve them. When Riley asks how Ben intends to break in, Ben shows Riley a pamphlet he picked up at Dr. Chase's office, advertising a gala at the Archives. Since security will be focused on the VIP guests, breaking into the preservation room should be much easier.
The 'evil plan' is put into action. Riley sets off one of the heat sensors embedded in the Declaration's display case; the entire display with the document is sent to the preservation room for examination. Ben sneaks into the gala as a janitor, which allows him to enter the building with a drill. He takes off and throws away the costume to show he is wearing a suit underneath for the event. He talks to Abigail and hands her a glass, hoping to get her fingerprint. But Ben gives too much of his plan away after a toast, and Abigail begins to suspect Ben isn't who he says he is. With the aid of Riley and high-tech equipment (including a feed to the Archive cameras), Ben breaks into the preservation room (after using Abigail's fingerprint and the password to get into the room). Ben begins to unscrew the document's case when Riley suddenly loses his camera feed (Ian and his men have just tapped into the feed themselves). Ben responds by taking the whole case into the elevator, planning to remove the Declaration in the elevator. However, he runs into Ian who is also after the Declaration. One of Ian's partners shoots at him and Ben has to make a break for it in the elevator back to the main level. On the way, Ben finally removes the Declaration from the case
and hides it in his jacket. But then he has to escape Abigail, who has discovered Ben (or Paul, as she knows him) isn't on the guest list for the gala. Ben hides momentarily in a gift shop, but is stopped by the clerk when she notices a 'copy' of the Declaration. He then has to pay with a visa creditcard after not having enough cash.
When Abigail sees Ben at the Gala, she figures out that something is not right and goes after him. Ian is also after Ben and Riley, and takes Abigail and what he thinks is the Declaration. Ben and Riley save Abigail and now they have to figure out where to go because thanks to the credit card purchase they can not go home.
Ben, now hunted by the FBI and Special agent Peter Sadusky, figures out that the only safe place they can go, now that Abigail is not letting The Declaration of Independence out of her sight, is Ben's Father's house in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Patrick Henry Gates and Ben have been estranged for years over Ben's instance that the treasure is real.
With lemon juice, Abigail, Ben, and Riley, figure out that the next clues involve the Silence Dogood Letters written by Benjamin Franklin. He asks his father for them but Patrick Gates says he donated them to the The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.
Using the numbers on the back of the Declaration as a key to find the next clue, Riley figures out that the next clue is at the Liberty Bell.
It involves the direct spot on Independence Hall that shows a shadow to where the next clue is. At the Centennial Bell (which is where the Liberty Bell originally stood) he finds bifocals that help him figure out that the next place to look is in New York. However Ben is separated from Abigail and Riley so that Ian does not get the map or the glasses.
Unfortunately, he is arrested by Sadusky in the process. Abigail also loses the Document to Ian.
Ben explains to the agents what he was doing and they do not believe him. They say to shorten his sentence (Sadusky gives him the metaphorical two doors option) he will have to help them get the others involved in the heist, meaning Ian. Ian sets up a meeting at the Intrepid in New York City but Ben is double crossed by Ian and he escapes by diving into the Hudson River and fleeing to where the next clue leads: Trinity Church in the Wall Street area. Ian however is also there, and to make sure Ben cooperates, he has kidnapped Patrick Henry Gates. The clues lead all of them to the back of the Church where there is a secret entrance. Walking down the steps Ben has to make a choice when both Abigail and The Declaration are about to fall. He chooses to save the Declaration and Abigail agrees with him. Finding there is nothing at the end of the stairs Ian is ready to kill all of them. Ben and Patrick give him a fake clue that will lead Ian to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian decides to leave Ben, Patrick, Abigail, and Riley down in the basement where no one knows they are.
Once Ian is gone, Ben goes to where the treasure should be but it isn't. He finally accepts the truth that his father was right all along. Patrick Henry Gates says that this room was real therefore Ben was right and he was wrong. While finding a way out of the basement, all four of them find the Treasure.
The FBI is called in to Trinity Church and Sadusky tells Ben that someone has to go to prison after he returns the Declaration to the government and says that the Treasure should be split up throughout all the Worlds great Museums. Ben says that Sadusky can still capture Ian if he can get to Boston before Ian does. Ben is there to see the arrest.
Ben was offered ten percent of the treasure, but he declines and settles on around one percent. Riley is disappointed that he turned down so much money, but Ben is content with what he has. Ben then says to Riley, "Okay, I'll tell you what. The next time we find a treasure that redefines history for all mankind, you make the call on the finder's fee." Riley accepts the offer and drives off in his brand-new Ferrari, saying, "Could've had a bigger house..."
Search for Cíbola
The Booth Diary Page
3 years after discovering the Templar Treasure, Ben becomes semi-famous within the treasure hunting community for discovering what was dubbed the "National Treasure".