Welcome. I'm Ezekiel Emanuel, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and you're here with us to take the course on Benjamin Franklin. When you think about Benjamin Franklin, what image comes into your mind's eye? Now, take a minute. Maybe even pause this video to consider it. What picture of Benjamin Franklin pops into your head when I say his name? Is it an old man flying a kite? Maybe a statue you've seen of him wearing his bifocals. If you visited the University of Pennsylvania campus maybe you recall the statue of him sitting on a bench reading a newspaper or maybe you think of his likeness on $100 bill. Or do you imagine him from his time in France wearing a humble outfit and that fur cap on his head. Are you a basketball fan? And do you think of the 76 years logo with him on it? Or maybe this question conscious of painting you've seen of the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Independence Hall and Franklin sitting there in the middle. I'm sure if we got together there would be a variety of answers to the question of what visual comes to mind when you think of Benjamin Franklin but in all the images he would be older, maybe even frail, maybe sitting with his cane but pretty surely, sitting. Funny, isn't it? We rarely think of Benjamin Franklin as a young man. Why is that? Well, because we've never ever seen an image of him as a young man. In the countless works of art and depictions we have of him there is not one of him as a youth, a young printer, or a young parent. Why do we only see him as an older gentleman? Surely, he once was young. In fact, Franklin was a robust physical specimen. He stood about 5'11 tall and quite physically fit and strong, not at all frail or weak. He wasn't a man sitting in a chair or needing a cane to walk. He was a strong swimmer and very conscientious about his diet. Interestingly enough he was also a ladies man yet almost no one thinks of Benjamin Franklin as a young, fit, attractive man about town. Some examples of his youthful strength are described in his autobiography. When reflecting on his time as a printer in London he describes how "On occasion I carried up and downstairs a large form of types in each hand when others carry but one in both hands. They wonder to see from this and several instances that the water American, as they called me, was stronger than themselves who drink strong beer." Now, consider that each of those letters and the type trays were made out of lead so they were incredibly heavy, often 30 pounds or more and Franklin carried not one but two at a time up and down the stairs of the printing office. This is not the typical image we have of Benjamin Franklin. Referencing his impressive swimming exploits he boasts that "And I return from Chelsea on the Thames River at the request of the company, whose curiosity my friend, why gate had excited. I stripped and let into the river and swam from near Chelsea all the way to Blackfriars performing on the way many feats of activity both upon and underwater that surprise and please those to whom they were witness." To put that event in context, the distance from Chelsea to Blackfriars by way of the Thames River is about 3.5 miles. That's nearly 250 lengths of a 25 yard swimming pool. Feats, appalling loads of heavy type and swimming 250 pool lengths are testaments the Benjamin Franklin's energy and physical fitness. Notably at a time when few people swam regularly at all. He was tall for the era, very fit and strong. Benjamin Franklin most certainly was not a frail man, always sitting in a chair resting on his cane. Here we see the first portrait of Benjamin Franklin. Look closely. When you look at it, what do you see? Well, he's wearing a wig, a velvet coat, and a clean white shirt. His hands aren't blackened by printing ink, he does not look like a mere printer. The image is quite regal or at least of the upper classes, not the working classes. Indeed, before this time Franklin was just an average person. He came from humble beginnings. His father was a candle maker. Candle making is near the bottom of the hierarchy of crafts and children of candle makers did not have their portraits painted. In addition, the portrait means Franklin is not a mere printer. Printers were of the middling sort and having a portrait painted was a status symbol like owning a fine set of china or an entire set of silverware, a sign you had made it. In this first portrait Benjamin Franklin is about 40 or 43 years old. It was painted by Robert Feke sometime between 1746 and 1749. Today it hangs in the Harvard Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The painting tells you Franklin is wealthy enough to spend money on a portrait and it's a portrait that hides his profession. Franklin was a wildly successful printer and this portrait was marking a major life transition for him. He wanted to communicate that he had made it and that he was establishing his new esteem position in society. Indeed, it marked his transition away from being a mere printer. While until 1746 there were no Franklin paintings or statues, he actually became the best-known and pictured person of the 18th century in the entire world. As his envious rival, John Adams said of Franklin, when both were stationed in Paris trying to get the French to pay for the American Revolution. Adam said he had a face as familiar as the Moon. Indeed, more people knew about Franklin and knew his face than anyone else at the time. There is this small Staffordshire porcelain labeled Washington. But look closely at it. It has the face of Benjamin Franklin. Why? Because the world knew what Franklin looked like but it had no portrait or picture of George Washington. Here's a statue of Franklin on the University of Pennsylvania's campus. Here's another portrait of him flying a kite with his son. A famous bust of Franklin by Houdon, one of 18th century France's preeminent sculptors. In the eyes of the world, Benjamin Franklin represented every American. The historian John William Ward described how Franklin presented himself in his autobiography and noted that ''When Franklin resumed his story, he did so in full self-consciousness that he was offering himself to the world as a representative type, the American.'' After looking at all these old statutes, portraits, and images, why do you think Franklin continues to be important? Franklin was the first American to be world-class, to be recognized by the leading lights of France, and England, and Spain, and Germany, and other countries of Europe as truly outstanding. Everyone was surprised that this man from the wilds of the North American frontier exceeded the accomplishments of even the most highly educated and esteemed Europeans. But even more strikingly, Franklin was world-class, not just in one area, say printing or in another, say electricity. He was world-class in almost everything he did. He did a lot throughout his life. He was a savvy printer and publisher with printing offices from New Haven to South Carolina to the Caribbean. He became one of the world's first media moguls. He was a superb journalist and writer. Indeed, his autobiography remains 250 years after its composition, one of the greatest books of American literature. He was the Postmaster General who developed a number of innovations and mail delivery, such as scheduled delivery of the mail and improved post roads. He was a notable inventor with at least 10 inventions to his name, bifocals, the lightning rod and the Franklin stove, you already know them. But there's also swim fins for the hands that he invented. The musical instrument harmonica, that Mozart composed for, and even the flexible urinary catheter he invented for his brother. He was a scientist whose work on electricity and the conservation of charge won the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the 18th century, which was called the Copley Medal from the Royal Society of Britain. He was a man who invented the symbols of positive and negative charge for electricity that we still use today. No one could believe a pumpkin from the wild frontier could win the esteemed Copley Medal, which also got him honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale, as well as St. Andrews in Scotland and Oxford in England. He was also, of course, a founding father. He was a politician and a diplomat, the representative of many states to the British government before the Revolution, and the American representative to France during the Revolutionary War. In addition, he was a civic leader who founded a myriad of institutions from the first lending library to the fire department, to the insurance company, to the first secular university in North America. Almost everything he did, he was among the best in the world at them. I believe he is the most talented, brilliant person ever born in the North American continent. Now, this course focuses on Benjamin Franklin and his life in the 18th century, and how his life and the time he lived in are relevant to us today. However, this is not a history course, but at least it's not only a history course. A major focus of the course will consider Franklin's achievements and accomplishments. Although we will not have time to cover all of them, they are just so many. More importantly, we'll also confront his faults and deficiencies. Asking questions like when Franklin copied from other authors for his Almanack or other articles, did he commit plagiarism? Was he a racist? How could he own slaves and yet criticize arguments of slave owners and the British or the slave trade? By the end of the course, you'll have greater knowledge of the 18th century in America and the events around its founding and how the life and works of Benjamin Franklin fit in and shape the entire 18th century. I'll address how we grapple with moral evaluations of great historical figures. You can determine whether you think they are great, as well as what that means connecting current public debates such as cancel culture and the 1776 report with the 18th century. Some questions you should consider while watching these videos. How has our study of Franklin affected your understanding of human behavior and society? How do Franklin and his world inform your ideas of citizenship and civic engagement? Does a study of historical figures like Benjamin Franklin challenge or help clarify your ethical commitments and perceptions of ethical dilemmas? In the next few lectures, we'll kick things off by talking about Young Ben Franklin in Boston and his time becoming a printer and journalist.