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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN - A FILM BY KEN BURNS

Ken Burns’s two-part, four-hour documentary, Benjamin Franklin, explores the revolutionary life of one of the 18th century’s most consequential and compelling personalities, whose work and words unlocked the mystery of electricity and helped create the United States. Franklin’s 84 years (1706-1790) spanned an epoch of momentous change in science, technology, literature, politics, and government—fields he himself advanced through a lifelong commitment to societal and self-improvement. 

He wrote influential essays, coined words and phrases still used today, established enduring institutions in his adopted Philadelphia, introduced groundbreaking theories about the natural world, developed life-saving inventions, and contributed as much as anyone to the foundation of the American Republic. But Franklin’s life was full of contradictions, and his success as a writer, printer, scientist, and statesman came at a cost to his family and to the people enslaved in their home. 

His influence was unmatched in his time, and his impact remains with us today. “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten,” he said in Poor Richard’s Almanack, “either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” Benjamin Franklin did both.

When to watch

Monday, May 16 at 9pm

Watch a special Rhode Island PBS Weeklystory about the Franklin Public Library - the first lending library in the country - and it happens to be in Franklin, Massachusetts. 

More Extras and Clips

Useful Resources

Reading List

Official Trailer

0:31
Published:
Rating: NR

Ken Burns explores the revolutionary life of Benjamin Franklin.

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
1 / 4 Videos
Official Trailer
Benjamin Franklin
Official Trailer
Benjamin Franklin and American Diplomacy
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin and American Diplomacy
Franklin and Innovation
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin and Innovation
Franklin and Writing
Benjamin Franklin
Franklin and Writing