The Age of Benjamin Franklin

Watch The Age of Benjamin Franklin

  • 2018
  • 1 Season

The Age of Benjamin Franklin from The Great Courses Signature Collection is a fascinating and informative series of lectures that explores the life and legacy of one of America's most important historical figures. Presented by acclaimed historian Robert J. Allison, this course provides a comprehensive look at the man who helped shape the course of American history.

The series is divided into 24 lectures, each approximately 30 minutes in length. Over the course of the series, Allison delves into every aspect of Franklin's life, from his humble beginnings as the son of a candlemaker in Boston, to his rise to become one of the most prominent figures of the American Revolution and beyond.

Allison's approach is both engaging and informative, blending historical narrative with insightful analysis and commentary. Offering a wealth of detail and context, he paints a vivid picture of Franklin's life, times, and impact in a way that is both accessible and engaging.

One of the key strengths of The Age of Benjamin Franklin is its attention to detail. Allison's research is impeccable, and he provides a wealth of information about not only Franklin himself, but also the broader historical context in which he lived. The series includes detailed discussions of the American Revolution, the founding of the United States, and the many social, political, and cultural changes that shaped the early years of the republic.

Throughout the course, Allison explores some of the key themes that define Franklin's legacy, including his commitment to science and innovation, his passion for civic engagement and public service, and his unwavering commitment to the ideals of the Enlightenment. One of the recurring themes of the series is the way in which Franklin's life and work embodied these ideals and helped to define them for generations to come.

Another notable feature of The Age of Benjamin Franklin is its focus on the ways in which Franklin's life and legacy continue to resonate in the modern world. Allison shows how many of the issues and challenges that Franklin faced in his own time - from political polarization to economic inequality - continue to be relevant today. By exploring these themes in depth, the series offers a fresh and compelling perspective on both Franklin's life and the broader historical context in which he lived.

Overall, The Age of Benjamin Franklin is a first-rate production that offers a thought-provoking and engaging look at one of America's most important historical figures. Whether you are a history buff or simply interested in learning more about the roots of American culture and identity, this series is sure to engage and inspire. Highly recommended!

The Age of Benjamin Franklin is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (24 episodes). The series first aired on March 2, 2018.

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Benjamin Franklin's Remarkable Legacy
24. Benjamin Franklin's Remarkable Legacy
March 2, 2018
Franklin lived an extraordinary life, but what's just as extraordinary is his legacy. Why has he been remembered so fondly when so many of his contemporaries have been forgotten? In this final lecture, consider why Franklin's legacy has endured, and examine the many ways he has been remembered by posterity.
Benjamin Franklin's Critics and Enemies
23. Benjamin Franklin's Critics and Enemies
March 2, 2018
In his Autobiography, Franklin wrote a blueprint for how to win friends, but as you have discovered, he was much more complicated than the persona he created. From his beginnings as a ruthless businessman to his half-century as a political player, he developed numerous critics and even enemies.
Benjamin Franklin: Framing the Constitution
22. Benjamin Franklin: Framing the Constitution
March 2, 2018
When he returned to America, he hoped to spend his remaining years enjoying life as a private citizen, but public duty called once again. Although America had won its independence, many challenges - from paying debts to establishing a government - remained. Delve into the debates and trials of a new nation.
Benjamin Franklin: Making Peace
21. Benjamin Franklin: Making Peace
March 2, 2018
Although Franklin enjoyed himself in France, his primary mission was one of complicated diplomacy - first, to bring France into a military alliance with the United States; second, to negotiate with other European powers to support the American cause; and finally, to negotiate a peace treaty with Great Britain. Witness his strategy for achieving these ends.
Benjamin Franklin: Acclaimed in France
20. Benjamin Franklin: Acclaimed in France
March 2, 2018
In December 1776, with independence declared and the American Revolution underway, Franklin traveled to Paris as an ambassador and was met with great acclaim. Journey with him through France over the next nine years, and learn how he adapted to French politics and culture, and cultivated an image of himself as a representative of the New World.
Benjamin Franklin and the Age of Revolution
19. Benjamin Franklin and the Age of Revolution
March 2, 2018
The late 18th century was an age of political revolution, and an era of philosophical revolution, as Enlightenment values spread across Europe and the Americas. As you'll learn in this lecture, Franklin was the American counterpart of his friends David Hume and Voltaire, all viewing the world with reason and skepticism.
Benjamin Franklin and Colonial Independence
18. Benjamin Franklin and Colonial Independence
March 2, 2018
At 70 years old, Franklin played a central role in America's declaration of independence, the formation of a new government in Pennsylvania, and in diplomatic forays to Canada and France. Find out what lessons the reluctant politician had learned that would help him navigate the entirely new world being created around him.
Benjamin Franklin and the Crisis of 1773
17. Benjamin Franklin and the Crisis of 1773
March 2, 2018
Continue your study of the tensions between Americans and the British. In the wake of the Tea Act and Boston Tea Party, Franklin in London as an agent for the American colonies struggled to patch the relationship and salvage the empire, but by 1775, a break is imminent.
Benjamin Franklin and Colonies vs. Empire
16. Benjamin Franklin and Colonies vs. Empire
March 2, 2018
As with slavery, Franklin's attitudes toward the British Empire also shifted as Parliament struggled to govern far-flung colonies. Here, you will review Franklin's role as an American agent to London while tensions rose between Britain and the colonies. A steady drumbeat of war began to be heard.
Benjamin Franklin and Slavery in America
15. Benjamin Franklin and Slavery in America
March 2, 2018
Franklin's attitudes toward race and slavery changed over the course of his long life. During his life he owned four slaves, yet he came to despise the institution for the way it contradicted Enlightenment values. After surveying the institution of American slavery, Professor Allison walks you through Franklin's life as he wrestled with slavery.
Benjamin Franklin and the American Indians
14. Benjamin Franklin and the American Indians
January 1, 1970
It might be strange to consider, but Franklin knew more about Native Americans than modern historians do. The Iroquois, Delaware, and other natives loomed large in his world and held the balance of power in North America. Witness his negotiations with these groups and reflect on his views toward American Indians.
Benjamin Franklin: A Reluctant Politician
13. Benjamin Franklin: A Reluctant Politician
March 2, 2018
Franklin loved science and ideas, but disliked controversy, a disposition that made him reluctant to enter politics. It is one of history's greatest ironies that this hesitant politician would become one of the most important political figures in the English-speaking world. Survey Franklin's entry into politics and consider his style as a politician.
Benjamin Franklin: Ladies' Man?
12. Benjamin Franklin: Ladies' Man?
March 2, 2018
Franklin has been called everything from a "babe magnet" to a "high-flying ladies' man" to "the founding flirt." Although he was conventionally married and had a family, he also had a number of unconventional liaisons around the world. Here, you will consider the many women in Franklin's life, and his relationships with them.
The Musical Benjamin Franklin
11. The Musical Benjamin Franklin
March 2, 2018
Among Franklin's lesser known abilities are his musical talents, which made effective use of his rational mind and his quest for understanding the world. After surveying the world of 18th century music, Professor Allison reveals Franklin's musical prowess, including the invention of a new musical instrument.
Benjamin Franklin: American Satirist
10. Benjamin Franklin: American Satirist
June 1, 2020
The 18th century was also the golden age of satire, which provided an excellent way to question authority and challenge received wisdom. As you will learn in this lecture, Franklin was among peers with Swift, Defoe, and Voltaire, and he used personas like Silence Dogood to offer blistering critiques of society.
Benjamin Franklin's Religious Beliefs
9. Benjamin Franklin's Religious Beliefs
March 2, 2018
Franklin lived during a great age of rationality and questioning, but also through one of the greatest religious revivals in world history. Franklin himself was a close friend of both George Whitefield, a famous evangelist, and David Hume, a powerful skeptic. Find out what Franklin made of these divergent intellectual movements.
Benjamin Franklin and Electricity
8. Benjamin Franklin and Electricity
March 2, 2018
Unpack Franklin's greatest scientific contributions, which were in the field of electricity. As one of his biographers put it, Franklin found electricity as merely a curiosity but he left it a science. Review his most important discoveries, experiments, and contributions, and reflect on the lasting legacy of Franklin as a scientist.
Benjamin Franklin: Scientist
7. Benjamin Franklin: Scientist
March 2, 2018
In addition to the print revolution, the 18th century saw scientific paradigms shift with the triumph of empirical knowledge. Franklin was a scientist - or, as he would have termed it, a "natural philosopher" - and his scientific contributions alone would have earned him a place in the history books. Examine some of his major inventions and ideas.
Benjamin Franklin: Printer and Postmaster
6. Benjamin Franklin: Printer and Postmaster
March 2, 2018
The world was experiencing a major revolution in the 18th century thanks to the printing press. The rise in literacy, the spread of ideas, and the creation of communities across oceans and colonial boundaries re-shaped the world's intellectual landscape. Delve into Franklin's career as a printer, where he was at the center of this revolution.
Benjamin Franklin in London
5. Benjamin Franklin in London
March 2, 2018
If Philadelphia was one of the British Empire's leading cities, London itself was becoming the metropolis of the Western world: the largest city in Europe, the financial center of the British Empire, and the nexus of global trade. From the royal exchange to the gambling dens, get to know this great city, and examine some of Franklin's pastimes.
Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia
4. Benjamin Franklin and Philadelphia
March 2, 2018
Shift your attention to the next stop on Franklin's life voyage, the City of Brotherly Love. Not only was 18th century Philadelphia one of the leading cities in British America, it was one of the leading cities in the British Empire. Find out what made this city so important, and discover how the city shaped Franklin - and how Franklin shaped the city.
Benjamin Franklin's Boston Beginnings
3. Benjamin Franklin's Boston Beginnings
March 2, 2018
We may associate Franklin with Philadelphia, but his roots lie in Boston. As you will find out in this lecture, many of the virtues Franklin would cultivate throughout his life grew from the values of the Boston Puritans. Delve into the Boston of the time to meet some of the people and witness the events that Franklin experienced in his youth.
Meet the Franklins
2. Meet the Franklins
March 2, 2018
In many ways, the Franklins were a typical 18th century family - extended across space (New England, the West Indies, and Europe), and filled with comedy and tragedy, wealth and poverty. Here, you will meet his parents and siblings, learn the story of his wife and first-born son, and accompany Franklin on his travels as his family grew.
Benjamin Franklin and the American Dream
1. Benjamin Franklin and the American Dream
March 2, 2018
Begin your course with a look at Franklin's unfinished autobiography, a book in which he consciously created a persona for himself as a role model others may follow. Although there is more to Franklin than he showed on the page, surveying the Autobiography offers some foundational insights into his life, his worldview, and the times in which he lived. #History
Where to Watch The Age of Benjamin Franklin
The Age of Benjamin Franklin is available for streaming on the The Great Courses Signature Collection website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch The Age of Benjamin Franklin on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon and Kanopy.
  • Premiere Date
    March 2, 2018