Benjamin Franklin

Scientist, inventor, writer of enduring epigrams of homespun wisdom, creator of America’s first subscription library and one of the most prestigious universities, Benjamin Franklin was (with the possible exception of Thomas Jefferson) the nation’s most complex and compelling Founding Father — and certainly its wittiest. During his 84 years, he rose from being a lowly printer’s apprentice to become a central figure in the American story; a man who could guide his fellow colonists in declaring their independence and crafting their Constitution, charm all of Paris as one of our first diplomats, and yet stay true to his guiding principle — a “dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people.”

We will follow his colorful and extremely consequential life, peering into the man behind the bifocals he invented and to a great extent using his own words to get to know him and his times. “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten,” he said, “Either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” Benjamin Franklin did both.