2006 Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary Celebration
Press Release · Friday, October 20, 2006

Biographer and Journalist Walter Isaacson Examines Franklin’s Legacy in Relationship Between Technology and Democracy in the United States

Washington, DC. . . On Thursday, November 2, at 7 p.m., the National Archives in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation celebrate the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth with a free program “Inventing America with Walter Isaacson,” hosted by the Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein.  The program will be held in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Building located on Constitution Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets, NW.

America’s founders were optimistic not only about politics but also about the contributions they expected science and technology to make to the success of the fledgling democracy. Join historian Walter Isaacson, author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, and Professor Allen Weinstein as they discuss how Americans have wrestled with the interplay of technology and democracy from Franklin’s time until today. Isaacson will draw on both his knowledge of Franklin and his own experiences in journalism to explore how communications technologies have shaped the practice of democracy.

Walter Isaacson is the President and CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been the Chairman and CEO of CNN and the Managing Editor of Time magazine. He is the author of Benjamin Franklin: An American Life (2003) and of Kissinger: A Biography (1992) and is the coauthor of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made (1986). He is currently writing a biography of Albert Einstein due to be published in April 2007. He is a graduate of Harvard College and of Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He began his career at the Sunday Times of London and then the New Orleans Times-Picayune/States-Item

The National Archives is fully accessible. If you need to request an accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter) for a public program please e-mail or call (202) 357-5000 at least two weeks prior to the event to ensure proper arrangements are secured.

Special Note: The Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center is part of the National Museum of American History and documents, interprets and disseminates information about invention and innovation. The program continues with a Lemelson Center conference November 3-4 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville with sessions devoted to technology and its relationship to democratic values, invention, political economy, and the practice of democracy.  The conference is free and open to the public.  More information about session topics, presenters and the Charlottesville conference location can be found at

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For press information contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.


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