Benjamin Franklin was a founding father of the United States. Ken Burns’ two-part, four-hour documentary, which airs Tuesday, delves into the life and career of one of America’s most influential leaders. “Join or Die (1706-1774),” the first episode, examines Franklin’s early achievements and how he sought to keep England and America united.
What is the best way to watch the documentary? When and where can you see it?
Benjamin Franklin Documentary
Benjamin Franklin will be voiced by Mandy Patinkin in the documentary, which PBS describes as “exploring the life and work of one of the most consequential figures in American history—a prolific writer and publisher, a groundbreaking scientist and inventor, a world-renowned diplomat and a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution.”
Franklin is played by Mandy Patinkin in Ken Burns’ documentary. Adams will be spoken by Paul Giamatti, who played John Adams in HBO’s John Adams.
- The first section follows Franklin as he leaves his Boston boyhood behind to recreate himself in Philadelphia, where he marries Deborah and starts a new life. He also turns to science in this chapter, where his experiments with electricity garnered him worldwide acclaim. He also enters politics at this time and spends a number of years in London attempting to keep Britain and America together.
- The second section shows Benjamin Franklin leaving London to return to Philadelphia during the American Revolutionary War, where he enters Congress and assists Thomas Jefferson in drafting the Declaration of Independence. While negotiating a peace settlement with Britain, he dedicated his life to helping the American Revolution. He worked on the Constitution and advocated for the eradication of slavery during his final days in the fledgling United States.
Benjamin Franklin Contradictions
Much of the on-screen conflict revolves around slavery, mirroring the current national debate about the founding fathers. The film’s inclusion of Franklin and slavery as a major issue is commendable, although the facts are occasionally presented in an unbalanced manner.
Franklin did own or purchase roughly seven slaves and profited from slavery (particularly by publishing fugitive advertising in his newspapers), but he was far from the most heinous (or even above average) slave owner. Franklin was not the same as Jefferson.
He eventually recognized African Americans’ importance, financed the Bray School for Black children, and served as president of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery, the world’s first such organization.
He even asked Congress to “design ways for eradicating the inconsistency from the American People’s Character.” Franklin was the only big founder who took such an outspoken and public role.
“Before the Revolution, slavery was never a huge public problem,” says recently deceased two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bernard Bailyn (whom Burns deems his “favorite talking head ever”). There was never a time after the Revolution when it wasn’t.”
Franklin and the other founding fathers began the movement toward liberty, the fall of monarchy and aristocracy, as well as the birth of abolitionism.
Benjamin Franklin Documentary Streaming Platform
On the 4th and 5th of April, PBS will broadcast two portions of a documentary about Benjamin Franklin. The first half, named Join or Die, will debut on April 4, 2022, followed by the second part, titled An American, the next day. The documentary will air on PBS and the free PBS Video App from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Only the United States has access to PBS.
Benjamin Franklin Career Growth
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath who worked as a writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, diplomat, printer, publisher, and political philosopher from January 17, 1706 to April 17, 1790. Franklin was a founding father of the United States, a drafter and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence, and the first postmaster general of the United States.
Benjamin Franklin, the youngest of his father’s many children, quickly realized that he would be responsible for his own education. This did not stop the youngster who would go on to become a world-famous scientist and a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution from following his impulses to study at all costs, devour books, and get up extra early to read.
We learn that he began reading the Bible at the age of five. Such is the portrayal of young Ben in Ken Burns’ two-part documentary “Benjamin Franklin,” which is strengthened by its ability to maintain a hint of sensitivity with its screaming vigor. It’s a strong combination exemplified by Mandy Patinkin’s portrayal of the grownup Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin Founded Three Philadelphia Institutions
Ben was the driving force behind a slew of local businesses, including:
- The first volunteer fire company in Philly
- The Library Company of Philadelphia
- The University of Pennsylvania
Benjamin Franklin In the White House
Andrew Jackson, whose legacy has sunk in recent decades, is thought to be a huge fan of Donald Trump. When Trump was elected president, he had his designer order a portrait of the seventh president, who was a white nationalist. And what did Joe Biden do once he was seated at that colossal desk?
He ejected Jackson from the Oval Office and replaced him with a 1785 painting of Ben by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, a French painter.
Ken Burns’ latest documentary, Benjamin Franklin, is a fascinating look at the life and times of the mysterious ground-breaking inventor whose work helped to solve the mystery of electricity and shape the United States as a nation-state.
The two-part, four-hour documentary explores Franklin’s incredible life, who was unquestionably one of the most influential and intriguing figures of the 18th century, having taken the world by storm with his enigma.
Benjamin Franklin is still regarded as one of the most important figures in government, science, religion, and even literature. Franklin made significant contributions to these subjects throughout his 84-year life and even pledged to make a lifelong commitment to societal and self-improvement.
The man, who was born to working-class parents, defied all odds and rose up the ranks of the professional and social ladders to become the most popular man in Paris, France.