Benjamin Franklin is Philadelphia’s most iconic citizen, but how did William Penn’s city shape the man often called “The First American”? This episode follows Franklin from his arrival as a fugitive indentured servant to his emergence as a leader of craftsmen, civic innovator, media pioneer, politician, and the force behind America’s greatest Enlightenment city. But all around Franklin, slavery drives the city’s prosperity. Sampson, enslaved to Governor James Logan, strikes out for freedom, forcing Quaker power brokers to wrestle with the great evil of their times. And soon, Philadelphia’s peaceful charter will face its greatest test, as a violent frontier conflict threatens to explode in the city’s streets.
Philadelphia: The Great Experiment is a multi-format historical documentary television film and Internet project that presents the story of Philadelphia, the single most compelling stage for the unfurling and testing of American ideals. William Penn’s city was the first in the world to codify freedom of religion, individual rights, trial by jury, and a democratic assembly as the pillars of a constitution amendable by the people.