Five Things You Probably Never Knew About Benjamin Franklin

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Duration 01:00:57

Suffolk University

Robert Allison is a professor of history at Suffolk University and teaches in the Harvard Extension School. He has received the Extension School’s Petra Shattuck Award for teaching and has been awarded the Suffolk’s Student Government Association award for teaching three times. Professor Allison has written books about the American Revolution, the history of Boston, and the Barbary Wars, and is co-editor of The Essential Debate on the Constitution. He is an elected Fellow of the American Antiquarian Society and the Massachusetts Historical Society, and President of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts.




You know about Benjamin Franklin and the kite. But what more do we know about this first self-made man: the quintessential American who spent a quarter of his life abroad; the printer, satirist, inventor, politician, and diplomat who also found time to invent a musical instrument (both Mozart and Beethoven composed pieces for it) and write a string quartet. Did you know that he is in the chess and swimming Halls of Fame, but that when a Hall of Fame for Great Americans was created, a prominent American historian tried to keep Franklin out? Did you know that Franklin was a friend to both George Whitefield, his era’s greatest Christian evangelist, and David Hume, the century’s greatest skeptic? Franklin’s life has been thoroughly examined, but there are still surprising things to learn about Franklin, the world he lived in, and the world he helped create.



8 reviews
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Linda Sainsbury

Fascinating presentation!

Great knowledge of Franklin and presented in a very understandable manner that makes Franklin so relatable! Loved this and would love more presentations on Franklin.

2 years ago


Professor Allison did a fantastic job. He is very knowledgeable and engaging. Benjamin Franklin is an incredibly interesting person, and the professor’s stories about him made Franklin even more interesting.

2 years ago
Hans Bleiker

We would like to have more programs on Benjamin Franklin from Professor Allison.

2 years ago
Jan Potts

Five Things You Never Knew about Benjamin Franklin

Franklin was even more fascinating than I knew. This was an excellent talk.

2 years ago
barbara ann.fields

Full Life

Franklin used his time here well. He followed his curiosity wherever it took him. You showed the inventive and creative soul of Ben.

1 year ago
Eric Jay Dolin

Entertaining and informative! Lived up to its title–I learned a few new things.

1 year ago
Kylie Knudsen


Our Senior residents LOVED this lecture. We had a full house. They thoroughly enjoyed the speaker as well as the topic.

7 months ago
Maggie Olmstead


This will definitely add to my appreciation of the man, and of the limited series now streaming.

2 months ago
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