Chautauqua History Comes Alive Festival - Ben Franklin
Create a new nation with Ben Franklin
Portrayed by Larry Bounds
Living in the Age of Enlightenment, Ben Franklin was many things: a printer, a postmaster, an ambassador, an author, a scientist, a founding father. Above all, he was an inventor, creating solutions to common problems, innovating new technology, new governments and even making life a little more musical. Franklin upheld science and intellect and reason – scandalous man!
Franklin helped invent and reinvent the American government as well as himself. He was a Loyalist who transformed into a patriot and founding father. He proposed the Albany Plan, mirroring the Iroquois. He drew up the Articles of Confederation uniting the colonies under the British Crown – and then he signed their Declaration of Independence. As the oldest delegate at the Constitutional Convention, he declared that the new government was a republic – if we can keep it.
Besides his experiments in electricity and inventions of bifocals, swim fins, the Franklin stove and the glass armonica, perhaps Ben Franklin should be best known for helping create a government with the flexibility to reinvent itself.
Performer: Larry Bounds
Larry Bounds has performed on the Chautauqua stage since 2002. Over the years he has portrayed Einstein, Churchill, Disney, Houdini, Crockett, Von Braun, Cronkite, and last year Andrew Jackson to numerous Chautauqua audiences nationwide.
Larry holds a bachelors degree in theatre and a masters in education from The University of Tennessee, and he is a National Board Certified educator. For 35 years he taught public high school. He was awarded his school’s Teacher of the Year in 2003 and was recognized as one of the Upstate’s Most Influential Educators by Parent Magazine in 2018.
He has performed as a professional magician since 1973, including 8 years entertaining with Ripley’s Believe It or Not! The International Brotherhood of Magicians admitted him to the Order of Merlin in 2009. Larry is also an active member of Mensa, the International Churchill Society, and the South Carolina Treasure and Artifact Association.
About Ben Franklin:
When Benjamin Franklin appeared before the British Parliament as a colonial representative in 1757, he dressed in the fine silks and powdered wig that were expected of the dignified Englishman that he was. Twenty-one years later, however, representing the new American republic desperately fighting a revolution for independence, he stepped among the silk clad, powdered, and bewigged French aristocracy in a plain, brown, homespun suit with no wig and wearing a rustic, beaver fur cap – his “Liberty Cap.” Franklin created a new image, singularly American. He represented a new national identity, more enterprising, less refined. He presented the idea of a new nationality that demanded a new nation. His unique style immediately captured the imagination of the French populace, rich and poor, and was the first step in winning over their support.
Ben Franklin became the first American. His life demonstrates the optimism, entrepreneurism, and imagination, that has enabled the America people to reinvent their society for the better throughout its history. Franklin, a distinguished, middle-aged, internationally known celebrity transformed himself from a proud Loyalist into a patriot and Founding Father. Through his personal transformations he also transformed this nation.