Few people in history have enjoyed such a symbiotic relationship with their city as Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia. Inventor, scientist, businessman, manager, politician, philosopher, and patron, Franklin embodied the eclectic but directed energy of booming Philadelphia in the mid- and late-18th century. In this 3-hour Ben Franklin tour, in the company of a historian, we'll use Franklin as a lens to discuss the social and political upheaval taking place in the city during the Colonial era. Visiting sites that include Franklin Court, we'll also discover the story of Franklin’s life and career in Philadelphia.
Ben Franklin Tour
We’ll begin our study of Franklin’s life in Old City, the heart of 18th century Philadelphia. Starting in Elfreth's Alley—the oldest continuously-occupied street in America—we’ll become acquainted with Franklin’s early life in Boston as one of seventeen children, understanding the influences that spurred him onto his famous future as a polymath. We’ll spend time looking at the multifaceted life of our subject, including his work as an inventor (beyond the kite-flying story) and as a manager (like his role as Postmaster General).
Man of Many Talents
Continuing towards Market Street, we’ll discuss Franklin’s other interests beyond his now-famous experiment to conduct electricity with a kite and a key. We’ll look at his work as a printer, spending time at Franklin Court and the American Philosophical Society, which Franklin founded in 1743, and discuss his appointment as the first-ever Postmaster General in the US. We may have the opportunity to see how a newspaper was printed during this time, and understand Franklin’s role in founding many of Philadelphia’s institutions still in existence, including the first lending library, Pennsylvania Hospital, and the University of Pennsylvania.
The First American
We’ll finish our time together examining Franklin’s later life and his role in both local and global politics which earned him the nickname “The First American.” His role in the Revolutionary War, participation in the Continental Congress and as signer of the Declaration of Independence firmly cements his name not only into the history of Philadelphia, but into American history.