Born the tenth son of a humble family of puritan candle-makers, Franklin’s rise to the front ranks of science, engineering, and invention was as unexpected as it was meteoric. In this 2-part program Richard Bell examines many of Franklin’s ideas to make life simpler, cheaper, and easier for himself and everyone else. It turns out that those ideas encompassed not only natural science and engineering, but also public works, civic improvements, political trail-blazing, and new business ideas.


Richard Bell is a professor of history at the University of Maryland. He is the author of the new book Stolen: Five Free Boys Kidnapped into Slavery and Their Astonishing Odyssey Home. He is the recipient of more than a dozen teaching awards and the National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar Award. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.