The American Philosophical Society, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1743, proudly bears the title of the nation's oldest learned society.  Our founders participated in the birth of American democracy. It pains us greatly that all these years later, our nation's promise has yet to be fulfilled.  We join all Americans of good will in deploring the senseless murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Over these past months the Society has hosted a number of virtual programs.  Even as we now resume our work with the offering of new programs, our attention remains focused on the senseless loss of innocent lives and our commitment to the difficult, necessary conversations and actions we must all take to begin to ensure that such tragedies end. Read more about virtual programming and resources that can be accessed remotely. Read more about the APS response to COVID-19.

Franklin, Jefferson, and America's First Institutions

John Van Horne

The final episode of season one of Great Talks at the APS departs slightly from the format of featuring an APS Meeting talk, instead featuring a conversation about paper appearing in a recent issue of Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. We thought it appropriate to close out the season by having a conversation about two figures who loom large in the history of the APS and in the national imagination—Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

On this episode, Dr. Patrick Spero and Dr. John Van Horne discuss Franklin, Jefferson, and their contributions to the founding and early growth of the American Philosophical Society and other Philadelphia institutions. Dr. Van Horne is Director Emeritus of the Library Company of Philadelphia. His essay, "Two Chips off the Same Block: Benjamin Franklin's Library Company and Philosophical Society and the Saga of Their 275-Year Relationship," was published in the December 2018 issue of the Proceedings.