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“Join or Die” (1706-1774)

Season 1 Episode 1 | 1hr 55m 26s

Leaving behind his Boston childhood, Benjamin Franklin reinvents himself in Philadelphia where he builds a printing empire and a new life with his wife, Deborah. Turning to science, Franklin's lightning rod and experiments in electricity earn him worldwide fame. After entering politics, he spends years in London trying to keep Britain and America together as his own family starts to come apart.

Aired: 04/03/22 | Expires: 04/25/22
Corporate funding for BENJAMIN FRANKLIN was provided by Bank of America. Major funding was provided by David M. Rubenstein. Major funding was also provided by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and by The Better Angels Society and its members Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine; University of Pennsylvania; Gilchrist and Amy Berg; Perry and Donna Golkin; Kissick Family Foundation; Deborah and Jon Dawson; Diane and Hal Brierley; McCloskey Family Charitable Trust; Cappy and Janie McGarr; Lavender Butterfly Fund; and Susan and Charles Shanor Charitable Trust.
Benjamin Franklin helps craft the Declaration of Independence and wins French support.
The Treaty of Paris ended a war, secured Independence and created an Empire.
Franklin studied electricity and proved lightning’s electrical nature with a key and kite.
Enslaved Philadelphia residents worked in businesses and homes, including Franklin’s.
A visit to a school for Black children challenged Franklin’s racial prejudices.
As impasse threatened the Constitutional Convention, Franklin appealed for Compromise.
Late in life, Franklin petitioned Congress to end slavery in the United States.
Franklin and Adams frustrated each other in France with opposing approaches to diplomacy.
Franklin’s musical invention, the armonica, became a sensation in Europe.
Franklin’s first published essays were printed under a pseudonym—Silence Dogood.
Benjamin Franklin helps craft the Declaration of Independence and wins French support.
After success as a Philadelphia printer Benjamin Franklin earns worldwide fame in science.