Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment

By Michael Brian Schiffer; Kacy L. Hollenback et al. | Go to book overview

1
The Franklin Phenomenon

The name of Benjamin Franklin resonates with most Americans. Not only is Franklin prominently mentioned in high-school and college history texts, but many cities and towns also have a Franklin Avenue, Franklin Insurance Company, or Ben Franklin Crafts store. His face is familiar—on postage stamps, busts in museums, and, of course, $100 bills. And Franklin's seemingly timeless sayings still grace calendars, magazine articles, and advice columns. In the pantheon of great Americans, Franklin looms large as a patriot and tireless diplomat, the founding father who, had he not died during Washington's first term, might have succeeded him as president.

Behind today's memorials was a man who led a long and complicated life. Like a brilliant-cut diamond, Franklin had many facets: as printer and publisher, founder of countless public institutions from library to fire department, and even scientist. But did he really snatch lightning from the clouds? Was the famous kite experiment (Fig. 1) merely a myth that padded the already impressive résumé of America's “renaissance man”? In the history of electrical science and technology, did Franklin actually earn any more than a tiny footnote?

Franklin (1706–1790) lived during much of the first age of electricity, which lasted from around 1740 to 1800. Not only did important electrical principles receive their first formulation then, but many people outside science acquired some familiarity with electrical technology, from lightning conductors to medical devices. Franklin, working on electricity in the late 1740s and early 1750s, in fact contributed crucial theoretical insights, ingenious experiments, and new technologies; and, yes, he did fly the kite. By the mid-1750s, Franklin had become a famous scientist whose ideas propelled new experiments and set the agenda for theoretical discussions throughout the West.

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Draw the Lightning Down: Benjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Figures ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Franklin Phenomenon 1
  • 2 - In the Beginning 12
  • 3 - A Coming of Age 33
  • 4 - Going Public 67
  • 5 - Power to the People 91
  • 6 - Life and Death 107
  • 7 - First, Do No Harm 133
  • 8 - An Electrical World 161
  • 9 - Property Protectors 184
  • 10 - A New Alchemy 206
  • 11 - Visionary Inventors 226
  • 12 - Technology Transfer: a Behavioral Framework 257
  • Notes 271
  • References Cited 333
  • Index 365
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 383

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.