Urinary Catheterization

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In urinary catheterization a latex, polyurethane, or silicone tube known as a urinary catheter is inserted into a patient’s bladder via the urethra. Catheterization allows the patient’s urine to drain freely from the bladder for collection. It may be used to inject liquids used for treatment or diagnosis of bladder conditions. A clinician, often a nurse, usually performs the procedure, but self-catheterization is also possible. The catheter may be a permanent one (indwelling catheter), or an intermittent catheter removed after each catheterization.

Catheter Types


Catheters come in several basic designs:

  • A Foley catheter (indwelling urinary catheter) is retained by means of a balloon at the tip that is inflated with sterile water. The balloons typically come in two different sizes: 5 cm3 and 30 cm3. They are commonly made in silicone rubber or natural rubber.
  • An intermittent catheter/Robinson catheter is a flexible catheter used for short term drainage of urine. Unlike the Foley catheter, it has no balloon on its tip and therefore cannot stay in place unaided. These can be non-coated or coated (e.g., hydrophilic coated and ready to use).
  • Intermittent self catheterization in males is best performed with a flexible catheter to drain the bladder periodically. The procedure should not be attempted by a patient without guidance in maintaining cleanliness of the catheter and surrounding area and specific instruction regarding catheter insertion from meatus to bladder entry.
  • A coudé catheter, including Tiemann’s catheter, is designed with a curved tip that makes it easier to pass through the curvature of the prostatic urethra.
  • A hematuria (or haematuria) catheter is a type of Foley catheter used for Post-TURP hemostasis. This is useful following endoscopic surgical procedures, or in the case of gross hematuria. There are both two-way and three-way hematuria catheters (double and triple lumen).
  • An condom catheter is used for incontinent males and carries a lower risk of infection than an indwelling catheter.
  • Catheter diameters are sized by the French catheter scale (F). The most common sizes are 10 F (3.3mm) to 28 F (9.3mm). The clinician selects a size large enough to allow free flow of urine, and large enough to control leakage of urine around the catheter. A larger size is necessary when the urine is thick, bloody, or contains large amounts of sediment. Larger catheters, however, are more likely to damage the urethra. Some people develop allergies or sensitivities to latex after long-term latex catheter use making it necessary to use silicone or Teflon types.

Evidence does not support an important decrease in the risk of urinary tract infections when silver-alloy catheters are used.

Sex Differences


In males, the catheter tube is inserted into the urinary tract through the penis. A condom-type catheter (also known as a ‘Texas catheter’), if used, fits around the tip of the penis, rather than being inserted. In females, the catheter is inserted into the urethral meatus, after a cleansing using povidone-iodine. The procedure can be complicated in females due to varying layouts of the genitalia (due to age, obesity, female genital cutting, childbirth, or other factors), but a good clinician would rely on anatomical landmarks and patience when dealing with such a patient. In the UK it is generally accepted that cleaning the area surrounding the urethral meatus with 0.9% sodium chloride solution is sufficient for both male and female patients as there is no reliable evidence to suggest that the use of antiseptic agents reduces the risk of urinary tract infection.

Males may have a slightly higher incidence of bladder spasms. If bladder spasms occur, or there is no urine in the drainage bag, the catheter may be blocked by blood, thick sediment, or a kink in the catheter or drainage tubing. Sometimes spasms are caused by the catheter irritating the bladder, prostate, or penis. Such spasms can be controlled with medication such as butylscopolamine, although most patients eventually adjust to the irritation and the spasms go away.

Common indications to catheterize a patient include acute or chronic urinary retention (which can damage the kidneys), orthopedic procedures that may limit a patient’s movement, the need for accurate monitoring of input and output (such as in an ICU), benign prostatic hyperplasia, incontinence, and the effects of various surgical interventions involving the bladder and prostate.

For some patients the insertion and removal of a catheter causes excruciating pain, so a topical anesthetic is used. Catheterization would be performed as a sterile medical procedure by trained, qualified personnel, using equipment designed for this purpose, except in the case of intermittent self-catheterization where patients have been trained to perform the procedure themselves.

Intermittent self-catheterization is performed by the patient four to six times a day, using a clean technique in most cases. Nurses use a sterile technique to perform intermittent catheterization in hospital settings. Incorrect technique may cause trauma to the urethra or prostate (male), urinary tract infection, or a paraphimosis in the uncircumcised male. For patients with spinal cord lesions and neurogenic bladder dysfunction, intermittent catheterisation (IC) is a standard method for bladder emptying. The technique is safe and effective and results in improved kidney and upper urinary tract status, lessening of vesicoureteral reflux and amelioration of continence. In addition to the clinical benefits, patient quality of life is enhanced by the increased independence and security offered by self-catheterization.

Illustrations

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Foley catheter

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Condom catheter

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Male Self-Catheterization

Female_Self-Catheterization

Female Self-Catheterization

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Male foley catheter

Catheter Maintenance


A catheter that is left in place for more than a short period of time is generally attached to a drainage bag to collect the urine. This also allows for measurement of urine volume. There are three types of drainage bags: The first is a leg bag, a smaller drainage device that attaches by elastic bands to the leg. A leg bag is usually worn during the day, as it fits discreetly under pants or skirts, and is easily emptied into a toilet. The second type of drainage bag is a larger device called a down drain that may be used overnight. This device is hung on a hook under the patient’s bed—never placed on the floor, due to risk of bacterial infection. The third is called a belly bag, and is secured around the waist. This bag can be worn at all times. It can be worn under the patient’s underwear to provide a totally undetectable look.

During long-term use, the catheter may be left in place all the time, or a patient may be instructed on a procedure for placing a catheter just long enough to empty the bladder and then removing it (known as intermittent self-catheterization). Patients undergoing major surgery are often catheterized and may remain so for some time. The patient may require irrigation of the bladder with sterile saline injected through the catheter to flush out clots or other matter that does not drain.

Maintenance

Condom_Cather_Drainage

How to properly drain a condom catheter.

Foley_Catheter_Drainage

How to properly drain a Foley catheter.

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Illustration of a closed urinary drainage method.

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Illustration of how to empty a urinary drainage bag.

Effects of long term use


The duration of catheterization can have significance. Incontinent patients commonly are catheterized to reduce their cost of care. However, long-term catheterization carries a significant risk of urinary tract infection.   Because of this risk catheterization is a last resort for the management of incontinence where other measures have proved unsuccessful. Other long term complications may include blood infections (sepsis), urethral injury, skin breakdown, bladder stones, and blood in the urine (hematuria). After many years of catheter use, bladder cancer may also develop.

Preventing infection


Everyday care of catheter and drainage bag is important to reduce the risk of infection. Such precautions include:

  • Cleansing the urethral area (area where catheter exits body) and the catheter itself.
  • Disconnecting drainage bag from catheter only with clean hands
  • Disconnecting drainage bag as seldom as possible.
  • Keeping drainage bag connector as clean as possible and cleansing the drainage bag periodically.
  • Use of a thin catheter where possible to reduce risk of harming the urethra during insertion.
  • Drinking sufficient liquid to produce at least two liters of urine daily
  • Sexual activity is very high risk for urinary infections, especially for catheterized women.
  • There is no clear evidence that any one catheter type or insertion technique is superior than another in preventing infection.

Recent developments in the field of the temporary prostatic stent have been viewed as a possible alternative to indwelling catheterization and the infections associated with their use.

Bifocals

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Bifocals are eyeglasses with two distinct optical powers. Bifocals are commonly prescribed to people with presbyopia who also require a correction for myopia, hyperopia, and/or astigmatism.

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Bifocals with separate lenses

History


Benjamin Franklin is generally credited with the invention of bifocals. Historians have produced some evidence to suggest that others may have come before him in the invention; however, a correspondence between George Whatley and John Fenno, editor of The Gazette of the United States, suggested that Franklin had indeed invented bifocals, and perhaps 50 years earlier than had been originally thought. Since many inventions are developed independently by more than one person, it is possible that the invention of bifocals may have been such a case. Nonetheless, Benjamin Franklin was among the first to wear bifocal lenses, and Franklin’s letters of correspondence suggest that he invented them independently, regardless of whether he was the first to invent them.

John Isaac Hawkins, the inventor of trifocal lenses, coined the term bifocals in 1824 and credited Dr. Franklin.

In 1955, Irving Rips of Younger Optics created the first seamless or “invisible” bifocal, a precursor to all progressive lenses.

Construction

Original bifocals were designed with the most convex lenses (for close viewing) in the lower half of the frame and the least convex lenses on the upper. Up until the beginning of the 20th century two separate lenses were cut in half and combined together in the rim of the frame. The mounting of two half lenses into a single frame led to a number of early complications and rendered such spectacles quite fragile. A method for fusing the sections of the lenses together was developed by Louis de Wecker at the end of the 19th century and patented by Dr. John L. Borsch, Jr. in 1908. Today most bifocals are created by molding a reading segment into a primary lens and are available with the reading segments in a variety of shapes and sizes.The most popular is the D-segment, 28 mm wide. While the D-segment bifocal offers superior optics, an increasing number of people opt for progressive bifocal lenses.

Problems


Bifocals can cause headaches and even dizziness in some users. Acclimation to the small field of view offered by the reading segment of bifocals can take some time, as the user learns to move either the head or the reading material rather than the eyes. Computer monitors are generally placed directly in front of users and can lead to muscle fatigue due to the unusual straight and constant movement of the head. This trouble is mitigated by the use of trifocal lenses or by the use of monofocal lenses for computer users.

In an interesting legal case reported in the UK in 1969, the plaintiff’s ability to use bifocals was impaired by accident.

Future


Research continues in an attempt to eliminate the limited field of vision in current bifocals. New materials and technologies may provide a method which can selectively adjust the optical power of a lens. Researchers have constructed such a lens using a liquid crystal layer sandwiched between two glass substrates.

Bifocals in the animal world


The aquatic larval stage of the diving beetle Thermonectus marmoratus has, in its principal eyes, two retinas and two distinct focal planes that are substantially separated (in the manner of bifocals) to switch their vision from up-close to distance, for easy and efficient capture of their prey, mostly mosquito larvae. This is the first ever recorded use of bifocal technology in the animal world.

Franklin Stove

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Franklin stove is a metal-lined fireplace named after Benjamin Franklin, who invented it in 1741. It had a hollow baffle near the rear (to transfer more heat from the fire to a room’s air) and relied on an “inverted siphon” to draw the fire’s hot fumes around the baffle. It was intended to produce more heat and less smoke than an ordinary open fireplace. It is also known as a “circulating stove” or the “Pennsylvania fireplace”.

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A Franklin stove

History


The two distinguishing features of Franklin’s stove were a hollow baffle (i.e., a metal panel that directed the flow of the fire’s fumes) and a flue that acted as an upside-down siphon.

Franklin_stove,_cross-sectional_diagram

The Franklin stove. Cool air enters the baffle through a duct under the floor. Smoke exits through a U-shaped duct in the floor.

Baffles in fireplaces

Baffles were used to lengthen the path that either a room’s air or a fire’s fumes had to flow through ductwork, thereby allowing more heat to be transferred to the room’s air or from the fire’s fumes. Specifically, ducts could be installed within the brickwork around a hearth; cool room air would then enter the lower end of a duct, be heated by the hot walls of the duct, rise, and finally exit from the duct’s upper end and return to the room. The longer the path through which the air flowed, the more heat would be transferred from the fire to the air. Similarly, the longer the duct through which a fire’s fumes had to flow before reaching the chimney, more heat would be transferred from the fumes to the room’s air.

The use of baffles to extract more heat from a fire and its fumes was not new. In 1618, Franz Kessler (ca. 1580–1650) of Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany published Holzsparkunst (The Art of Saving Wood), featuring a stove in which the fumes from a fire were forced to snake through five chambers, one above the other, before entering the chimney. Kessler also documented an enclosed heating stove that, like Franklin’s stove, had a baffle directly behind the fire, thereby lengthening the path that the fire’s fumes had to travel before reaching the chimney.

In 1624, a French physician, Louis Savot (1579–1640), described a fireplace that he had built in the Louvre. Ducts passed under, behind, and above the fire in the hearth. Cool air in the room entered the lower opening of a duct, was warmed, rose, and returned to the room through the duct’s upper opening. In 1713, Frenchman Nicolas Gauger (ca. 1680–1730) published a book, La Mécanique du Feu… (The Mechanics of Fire), in which he presented novel designs for fireplaces. Gauger surrounded the hearth with hollow spaces. Inside these spaces were baffles. Cool room air entered the spaces through lower openings, was warmed as it snaked around the baffles in the spaces, and returned to the room through upper openings.

In Franklin’s stove, a hollow baffle was positioned inside and near the rear of the stove. The baffle was a wide but thin cast-iron box, which was open to the room’s air at its bottom and at two holes on its sides, near its top. Air entered the bottom of the box and was heated both by the fire and by the fumes flowing over the front and back of the box. The warmed air then rose inside the baffle and exited through the holes in the baffle’s sides. Franklin’s baffle thus performed at least two functions: like Kessler’s heating stove, it lengthened the path that the fire’s fumes had to follow before reaching the chimney, allowing more heat to be extracted from the fumes; and like Gauger’s fireplace, it placed a duct near the fire, which heated the room’s air via convection.

Inverted siphons in fireplaces

Some early experimenters reasoned that if a fire in a fireplace were connected by a U-shaped duct to the chimney, the hot gases ascending through the chimney would draw the fire’s smoke and fumes first downwards through one leg of the U and then upwards through the other leg and the chimney. This was what Franklin called an “aerial syphon” or “syphon revers’d”. This inverted siphon was used to draw the fire’s hot fumes up the front and down the back of the Franklin stove’s hollow baffle, in order to extract as much heat as possible from the fumes.

The earliest known example of such an inverted siphon was the 1618 fireplace of Franz Kessler. The fire burned in a ceramic box. Inside the box and behind the fire was a baffle. The baffle forced the fire’s fumes to descend behind the baffle before exiting to the chimney. The intention was to extract as much heat as possible from the fumes by extending the path that the fumes had to follow before they reached the chimney.

The 1678 fireplace of Prince Rupert (1619–1682) also included an inverted siphon. Rupert placed a hanging iron door between the fire grate and the chimney. In order to exit through the chimney, the fire’s fumes and smoke first had to descend below the edge of the door before rising through the chimney.

Another early example of an inverted siphon was a stove that was exhibited in 1686 at the annual Foire Saint-Germain, Paris. Its inventor, André Dalesme (1643–1727), called it a smokeless stove (furnus acapnos). The stove consisted of an iron bowl in which the fuel was burned. A pipe extended from the bowl’s bottom and then upwards into a chimney. Shortly after starting a fire in the bowl, hot air would begin to rise through the pipe and then up the chimney; this created a downward draft through the bowl, which drew the fire and its fumes down into the bowl. Once the draft was initiated, it was self-sustaining as long as the fire burned. Dalesme’s stove could burn wood, incense, and even “coal steept in cats-piss” yet produce very little smoke or smell. These results showed that fires could be used inside a room, without filling the house with smoke.

Franklin’s stove contained a baffle directly behind the fire, which forced the fire’s fumes to flow downward before they reached the chimney. This required a U-shaped duct in the floor behind the stove, so that the fumes could flow from the stove into the chimney. Thus Franklin’s stove incorporated an inverted siphon.

Franklin’s research and development

Gauger’s book on his innovative fireplace designs was translated into English – Fires Improv’d: Being a New Method of Building Chimneys, So as to Prevent their Smoaking (1715) – by a French immigrant to England, Jean Théophile Desaguliers (1683–1744). In a postscript to Desaguliers’ book A Course in Experimental Philosophy (1744), Desaguliers again briefly described Gauger’s fireplaces and mentioned his own work on the subject. Franklin read both of Desaguliers’ books and developed his own designs for a stove that could provide more heat with less smoke.

In 1742, Franklin finished his first design which implemented new scientific concepts about heat which had been developed by the Dutch physician Herman Boerhaave (1668–1738), a proponent of Isaac Newton’s ideas. Two years later, Franklin wrote a pamphlet describing his design and how it operated in order to sell his product. Around this time, the deputy governor of Pennsylvania, George Thomas, made an offer to Franklin to patent his design, but Franklin never patented any of his designs and inventions. He believed “that as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously”. As a result, many others were able to use Franklin’s design and improve it. Although his stove was intended to have the double purpose of cooking and heating a room, as time progressed and new stove designs became available, the Franklin stove’s main use became to heat a room. Many others improved on the Franklin stove design, but to this day, most American fireplaces are box-shaped, similar to the Franklin stove. The exception is the Rumford fireplace, developed by Benjamin Thompson.

Stove Design


The stove was about 30 inches (76 cm) tall, with a box shape. The front was open, except for a decorative panel in the upper part of the box. The back of the box was to be placed a few inches away from the flue (chimney). On the bottom panel there were several holes to allow the smoke to escape; these were connected to the chimney. The panels were bolted together with iron screws through pre-cast ears. Inside there was a small, thin rectangular prism that would force the smoke into the holes. The plates were all made from iron.

Franklin’s stove sold poorly. The problem lay with the inverted siphon: the smoke had to pass through a cold flue (which was set in the floor) before the smoke could enter the chimney; consequently, the smoke cooled too much and the stove did not have a good draft. The inverted siphon would operate properly only if the fire burned constantly, so that the temperature in the flue was high enough to produce a draft.

A later version, designed by David Rittenhouse, solved many of the problems Franklin’s original stove had and became popular. Franklin’s fame outweighed Rittenhouse’s, though, so history remembers the Franklin Stove rather than the Rittenhouse Stove.

Glass Harmonica

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

800px-ThomasBlochHandsGlassharmonica_low_notes_on_left_and_high_notes_on_right

Spinning glass disks (bowls) on a common shaft are arranged with the lower notes (larger disks) to the left and higher notes (smaller disks) to the right.

The glass harmonica, also known as the glass armonica, glass harmonium, bowl organ, hydrocrystalophone, or simply the armonica or harmonica (derived from ἁρμονία, harmonia, the Greek word for harmony), is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones by means of friction (instruments of this type are known as friction idiophones).

Names


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A glass harp, an ancestor of the glass armonica, being played in Rome. The rims of wine glasses filled with water are rubbed by the player’s fingers to create the notes.

The name “glass harmonica” (also “glass armonica”, “glassharmonica”; harmonica de verre, harmonica de Franklin, armonica de verre, or just harmonica in French; Glasharmonika in German; harmonica in Dutch) refers today to any instrument played by rubbing glass or crystal goblets or bowls. The alternate instrument consisting of a set of wine glasses (usually tuned with water) is generally known in English as “musical glasses” or the “glass harp”.

When Benjamin Franklin invented his mechanical version of the instrument in 1761, he called it the armonica, based on the Italian word armonia, which means “harmony”. The unrelated free-reed wind instrument aeolina, today called the “harmonica”, was not invented until 1821, sixty years later.

The word “hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica” is also recorded, composed of Greek roots to mean something like “harmonica to produce music for the soul by fingers dipped in water” (hydro- for “water”, daktul- for “finger”, psych- for “soul”). The Oxford Companion to Music mentions that this word is “the longest section of the Greek language ever attached to any musical instrument, for a reader of The Times wrote to that paper in 1932 to say that in his youth he heard a performance of the instrument where it was called a hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica.” The Museum of Music in Paris displays a hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica.

Forerunners


Because its sounding portion is made of glass, the glass harmonica is a type of crystallophone. The phenomenon of rubbing a wet finger around the rim of a wine goblet to produce tones is documented back to Renaissance times; Galileo considered the phenomenon (in his Two New Sciences), as did Athanasius Kircher.

The Irish musician Richard Pockrich is typically credited as the first to play an instrument composed of glass vessels (glass harp) by rubbing his fingers around the rims. Beginning in the 1740s, he performed in London on a set of upright goblets filled with varying amounts of water. His career was cut short by a fire in his room, which killed him and destroyed his apparatus.

Edward Delaval, a friend of Benjamin Franklin and a fellow of the Royal Society, extended the experiments of Pockrich, contriving a set of glasses better tuned and easier to play. During the same decade, Christoph Willibald Gluck also attracted attention playing a similar instrument in England.

Franklin’s armonica


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A modern glass armonica built using Benjamin Franklin’s design

Benjamin Franklin invented a radically new arrangement of the glasses in 1761 after seeing water-filled wine glasses played by Edmund Delaval at Cambridge in England in May 1761. Franklin worked with London glassblower Charles James to build one, and it had its world premiere in early 1762, played by Marianne Davies.

Writing to his friend Giambatista Beccaria in Turin, Italy, Franklin wrote from London in 1762 about his musical instrument: “The advantages of this instrument are, that its tones are incomparably sweet beyond those of any other; that they may be swelled and softened at pleasure by stronger or weaker pressures of the finger, and continued to any length; and that the instrument, being well tuned, never again wants tuning. In honour of your musical language, I have borrowed from it the name of this instrument, calling it the Armonica.”

In Franklin’s treadle-operated version, 37 bowls were mounted horizontally on an iron spindle. The whole spindle turned by means of a foot pedal. The sound was produced by touching the rims of the bowls with water-moistened fingers. Rims were painted different colors according to the pitch of the note: A (dark blue), B (purple), C (red), D (orange), E (yellow), F (green), G (blue), and accidentals were marked in white. With the Franklin design, it is possible to play ten glasses simultaneously if desired, a technique that is very difficult if not impossible to execute using upright goblets. Franklin also advocated the use of a small amount of powdered chalk on the fingers, which under some acidic water conditions helped produce a clear tone.

Some attempted improvements on the armonica included adding keyboards, placing pads between the bowls to reduce sympathetic vibrations, and using violin bows. Another supposed improvement claimed in ill-informed post-period observations of non-playing instruments was to have the glasses rotate into a trough of water. However, William Zeitler put this idea to the test by rotating an armonica cup into a basin of water; the water has the same effect as putting water in a wine glass – it changes the pitch. With several dozen glasses, each a different diameter and thus rotating with a different depth, the result would be musical cacophony. This modification also made it much harder to make the glass “speak”, and muffled the sound.

In 1975, an original armonica was acquired by the Bakken Museum in Minneapolis and put on display, albeit without its original glass bowls (they were destroyed during shipment). It was purchased through a musical instrument dealer in France, from the descendants of Mme. Brillon de Jouy, a neighbor of Benjamin Franklin’s from 1777 to 1785, when he lived in the Paris suburb of Passy. Some 18th- and 19th-century specimens of the armonica have survived into the 21st century. Franz Mesmer also played the armonica and used it as an integral part of his Mesmerism.

An original Franklin armonica is in the archives at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, having been donated in 1956 by Franklin’s descendants after “the children took great delight in breaking the bowls with spoons” during family gatherings. It is only placed on display for special occasions, such as Franklin’s birthday. The Franklin Institute is also the home of the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial.

A website has attempted to catalog publicly known Franklin-era glass armonicas. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has an early 19th-century instrument on display, which is occasionally used for public performances and recordings.

Musical works


Carnaval_aquarium

Part of the original manuscript score of “Aquarium” from The Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saëns. The top staff was written for the (glass) “Harmonica”. About this sound Play (help·info)

Composers including J. G. Naumann, Padre Martini, Johann Adolph Hasse, Baldassare Galuppi, and Niccolò Jommelli, and more than 100 others composed works for the glass harmonica;   some pieces survive in the repertoire through transcriptions for more conventional instruments. European monarchs indulged in playing it, and even Marie Antoinette took lessons as a child from Franz Anton Mesmer.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his 1791 K. 617 and K.356 (K.617a) for the glass harmonica. Ludwig van Beethoven used the instrument in an 1814 melodrama Leonore Prohaska. Gaetano Donizetti used the instrument in the accompaniment to Amelia’s aria “Par che mi dica ancora” in Il castello di Kenilworth, premiered in 1829. He also originally specified the instrument in Lucia di Lammermoor (1835) as a haunting accompaniment to the heroine’s “mad scenes”, though before the premiere he was required by the producers to rewrite the part for two flutes. Camille Saint-Saëns used this instrument in his 1886 The Carnival of the Animals (in movements 7 and 14). Richard Strauss used the instrument in his 1917 Die Frau ohne Schatten.

For a while the instrument was “extraordinarily popular,” its “‘ethereal” qualities characteristic, along with instruments such as the nail violin and Aeolian harp, of Empfindsamkeit, but “the instrument fell into oblivion,” around 1830. Since the armonica’s performance revival during the 1980s, composers have again written for it (solo, chamber music, opera, electronic music, popular music) including Jan Erik Mikalsen, Regis Campo, Etienne Rolin, Philippe Sarde, Damon Albarn, Tom Waits, Michel Redolfi, Cyril Morin, Stefano Giannotti, Thomas Bloch, Jörg Widmann (Armonica 2006), and Guillaume Connesson.

The music for the 1997 ballet Othello by American composer Elliot Goldenthal opens and closes with the glass harmonica. The ballet was performed at San Francisco Ballet, the American Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Ballet, and on tour in Europe including at the Opera Garnier with Dennis James performing with his historical replica instrument.

George Benjamin’s opera Written on Skin, which premiered at the 2012 Aix-en-Provence Festival, includes a prominent and elaborate part for the glass harmonica..

Purported dangers


The instrument’s popularity did not last far beyond the 18th century. Some claim this was due to strange rumors that using the instrument caused both musicians and their listeners to go mad. It is a matter of conjecture how pervasive that belief was; all the commonly cited examples of this rumor seems to be German, if not confined to Vienna. One example of alleged effects from playing the glass harmonica was noted by a German musicologist Friedrich Rochlitz in the Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung:

The harmonica excessively stimulates the nerves, plunges the player into a nagging depression and hence into a dark and melancholy mood that is apt method for slow self-annihilation. If you are suffering from any kind of nervous disorder, you should not play it; if you are not yet ill you should not play it; if you are feeling melancholy you should not play it.

Marianne Davies, who played flute and harpsichord – and was a young woman said to be related to Franklin – became proficient enough at playing the armonica to offer public performances. After touring for many years in duo performances with her celebrated vocalist sister, she was also said to have been afflicted with a melancholia attributed to the plaintive tones of the instrument. Marianne Kirchgessner was an armonica player; she died at the age of 39 of pneumonia or an illness much like it. However many others, including Franklin, lived long lives.

For a time the armonica achieved a genuine vogue, but like most fads, that for the armonica eventually passed. It has been claimed the sound-producing mechanism did not generate sufficient power to fill the large halls that were becoming home to modern stringed instruments, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. That the instrument was made with glass, and subject to easy breakage, perhaps did not help either. By 1820, the armonica had mostly disappeared from frequent public performance, perhaps because musical fashions were changing.

A modern version of the “purported dangers” claims that players suffered lead poisoning because armonicas were made of lead glass. However, there is no known scientific basis for the theory that merely touching lead glass can cause lead poisoning. Lead poisoning was common in the 18th and early 19th centuries for both armonica players and non-players alike; doctors prescribed lead compounds for a long list of ailments, and lead or lead oxide was used as a food preservative and in cookware and eating utensils. Trace amounts of lead that armonica players in Franklin’s day received from their instruments would likely have been dwarfed by lead from other sources, such as the lead-content paint used to mark visual identification of the bowls to the players.

Historical replicas by Eisch use so-called “White Crystal” developed in the 18th c. replacing the lead with a higher potash content; many modern newly invented devices, such as those made by Finkenbeiner, are made from so-called Quartz “pure silica glass” – a glass formulation developed in the early 20th c. for scientific purposes.

Perception of the sound


The somewhat disorienting quality of the ethereal sound is due in part to the way that humans perceive and locate ranges of sounds. Above 4 kHz people primarily use the loudness of the sound to differentiate between left and right ears and thus triangulate, or locate the source. Below 1 kHz, they use the phase differences of sound waves arriving at their left and right ears to identify location. The predominant pitch of the armonica is in the range of 1–4 kHz, which coincides with the sound range where the brain is “not quite sure”, and thus listeners have difficulty locating it in space (where it comes from), and discerning the source of the sound (the materials and techniques used to produce it).

Benjamin Franklin himself described the armonica’s tones as “incomparably sweet”. The full quotation, written in a letter to Giambattista Beccaria, an Italian priest and electrician, is: “The advantages of this instrument are that its tones are incomparably sweet beyond those of any other; that they may be swelled and softened at pleasure by stronger or weaker pressures of the finger, and continued to any length; and that the instrument, once well tuned, never again wants tuning.”

A music critic for the Morning Chronicle, writing of a performance by Kirchgessner in 1794, said, “Her taste is chastened and the dulcet notes of the instrument would be delightful indeed, were they more powerful and articulate; but that we believe the most perfect execution cannot make them. In a smaller room and an audience less numerous, the effect must be enchanting. Though the accompaniments were kept very much under, they were still occasionally too loud.”

Modern revival


800px-Glass_Harmonica_at_Poncan_Theatre

Dennis James plays the armonica at the Poncan Theatre in Ponca City, Oklahoma, on April 2, 2011.

Music for glass harmonica was all-but-unknown from 1820 until the 1930s (although Gaetano Donizetti intended for the aria “Il dolce suono” from his 1835 opera Lucia di Lammermoor to be accompanied by a glass armonica, and Richard Strauss specified use of the instrument in his 1919 opera Die Frau ohne Schatten), when German virtuoso Bruno Hoffmann began revitalizing interest in his individual goblet instrument version that he named the glass harp for his stunning performances. Playing his “glass harp” (with Eisch manufactured custom designed glasses mounted in a case designed with underlying resonance chamber) he transcribed or rearranged much of the literature written for the mechanized instrument, and commissioned contemporary composers to write new pieces for his goblet version.

Franklin’s glass armonica design was reworked yet again without patent credit by master glassblower and musician, Gerhard B. Finkenbeiner (1930–1999) in 1984. After thirty years of experimentation, Finkenbeiner’s imitative prototype consisted of clear glasses and glasses later equipped with gold bands mimicking late 18th-century designs. The historical instruments with gold bands indicated the equivalent of the black keys on the piano, simplifying the multi-hued painted bowl rims with white accidentals as specified by Franklin. Finkenbeiner Inc., of Waltham, Massachusetts, continues to produce versions of these instruments commercially as of 2014, featuring glass elements made of scientific formulated fused-silica quartz.

French instrument makers and artists Bernard and François Baschet invented a modern variation of the Chladni Euphone in 1952, the “crystal organ” or Cristal di Baschet, which consists of up to 52 chromatically tuned resonating metal rods that are set into motion by attached glass rods that are rubbed with wet fingers. The Cristal di Baschet differs mainly from the other glass instruments in that the identical length and thickness glass rods are set horizontally, and attach to the tuned metal stems that have added metal blocks for increasing resonance. The result is a fully acoustic instrument, and impressive amplification obtained using fiberglass or metal cones fixed on wood and by a tall cut-out multi-resonant metal part in the shape of a flame. Some thin added metallic wires resembling cat whiskers are placed under the instrument, supposedly to increase the sound power of high-pitched frequencies.

Dennis James recorded an album of all glass music, Cristal: Glass Music Through the Ages co-produced by Linda Ronstadt and Grammy Award-winning producer John Boylan. James plays the glass harmonica, the Cristal di Baschet, and the Seraphim on the CD in original historical compositions and new arrangements for glass by Mozart, Scarlatti, Schnaubelt, and Fauré and collaborates on the recording with the Emerson String Quartet, operatic soprano Ruth Ann Swenson, and Ronstadt. James played glass instruments on Marco Beltrami’s film scores for The Minus Man (1999) and The Faculty (1998). “I first became aware of glass instruments at about the age of 6 while visiting the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I can still recall being mesmerized by the appearance of the original Benjamin Franklin armonica then on display in its own showcase in the entry rotunda of the city’s famed science museum.” James Horner used a glass harmonica and pan flute for Spock’s theme in the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Notable players


Historical

  • Marie Antoinette
  • Marianne Davies
  • Benjamin Franklin (United States)
  • Franz Mesmer
  • Marianne Kirchgessner
  • Mrs. Philip Thicknesse (born Anne Ford), 1775, United Kingdom)

Contemporary

  • Thomas Bloch (France)
  • Cecilia Brauer (United States)
  • Bill Hayes (New York City) Broadway Musician and Percussionist, Barbra Streisand Orchestra 1994, 2006, 2007
  • Martin Hilmer (Germany)
  • Bruno Hoffmann (Germany)
  • Dennis James (United States)
  • Alasdair Malloy (United Kingdom)
  • David Mauldin (United States)
  • Gloria Parker (United States) glass harp
  • Gerald Schönfeldinger (Austria)
  • Dean Shostak (United States)
  • Ed Stander (United States)
  • William Zeitler (United States)

Related instruments


Glassharmonica

An armonica

Another instrument that is also played with wet fingers is the hydraulophone.   The hydraulophone sounds similar to a glass armonica but has a darker, heavier sound, that extends down into the subsonic range. The technique for playing the hydraulophone is similar to that used for playing the armonica.

Lightning Rod

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lightning-rod-diagram.svg

Diagram of a simple lightning protection system

A lightning rod (US, AUS) or lightning conductor (UK) is a metal rod mounted on a structure and intended to protect the structure from a lightning strike. If lightning hits the structure, it will preferentially strike the rod and be conducted to ground through a wire, instead of passing through the structure, where it could start a fire or cause electrocution. Lightning rods are also called finials, air terminals or strike termination devices.

In a lightning protection system, a lightning rod is a single component of the system. The lightning rod requires a connection to earth to perform its protective function. Lightning rods come in many different forms, including hollow, solid, pointed, rounded, flat strips or even bristle brush-like. The main attribute common to all lightning rods is that they are all made of conductive materials, such as copper and aluminum. Copper and its alloys are the most common materials used in lightning protection.

History


The principle of the lightning rod was first detailed by Benjamin Franklin in Pennsylvania in 1749, who in the subsequent years developed his invention for household application (published in 1753) and further improvements towards a reliable system around 1760.

450px-Nevjansk_tower_ground_upwards_view

Nevyansk Tower in Russia crowned with a metallic rod grounded through a complex system of rebars (some are seen at the basement)

267px-Prokop_Divis_rodny_domek_edit

“Machina meteorologica” invented by Diviš worked like a lightning rod

Franklin_-_Sentry-Box_Experiment

Franklin’s earliest papers on electricity

As buildings become taller, lightning becomes more of a threat. Lightning can damage structures made of most materials, such as masonry, wood, concrete and steel, because the huge currents and voltages involved can heat materials to high temperature, causing a potential for fire.

Russia

A lightning conductor may have been intentionally used in the Leaning Tower of Nevyansk. The spire of the tower is crowned with a metallic rod in the shape of a gilded sphere with spikes. This lightning rod is grounded through the rebar carcass, which pierces the entire building.

The Nevyansk Tower was built between 1721 and 1745, on the orders of industrialist Akinfiy Demidov. The Nevyansk Tower was built 28 years before Benjamin Franklin’s experiment and scientific explanation. However, the true intent behind the metal rooftop and rebars remains unknown.

Europe

The church tower of many European cities, which was usually the highest structure in the city, was likely to be hit by lightning. Early on, Christian churches tried to prevent the occurrence of the damaging effects of lightning by prayers. Peter Ahlwardts (“Reasonable and Theological Considerations about Thunder and Lightning”, 1745) advised individuals seeking cover from lightning to go anywhere except in or around a church.

There is an ongoing debate over whether a “metereological machine”, invented by Premonstratensian priest Prokop Diviš and erected in Přímětice near Znojmo, Moravia (now Czech Republic) in June 1754, does count as an individual invention of the lightning rod. Diviš’s apparatus was, according to his private theories, aimed towards preventing thunderstorms altogether by constantly depriving the air of its superfluous electricity. The apparatus was, however, mounted on a free-standing pole and probably better grounded than Franklin’s lightning rods at that time, so it served the purpose of a lightning rod. After local protests, Diviš had to cease his weather experiments around 1760.

America

In what later became the United States, the pointed lightning rod conductor, also called a lightning attractor or Franklin rod, was invented by Benjamin Franklin in 1749 as part of his groundbreaking exploration of electricity. Although not the first to suggest a correlation between electricity and lightning, Franklin was the first to propose a workable system for testing his hypothesis. Franklin speculated that, with an iron rod sharpened to a point,

“The electrical fire would, I think, be drawn out of a cloud silently, before it could come near enough to strike….”

Franklin speculated about lightning rods for several years before his reported kite experiment. This experiment, it is said, took place because he was tired of waiting for Christ Church in Philadelphia to be completed so he could place a lightning rod on top of it.  

In the 19th century, the lightning rod became a decorative motif. Lightning rods were embellished with ornamental glass balls (now prized by collectors). The ornamental appeal of these glass balls has been used in weather vanes. The main purpose of these balls, however, is to provide evidence of a lightning strike by shattering or falling off. If after a storm a ball is discovered missing or broken, the property owner should then check the building, rod, and grounding wire for damage.

Balls of solid glass occasionally were used in a method purported to prevent lightning strikes to ships and other objects. The idea was that glass objects, being non-conductors, are seldom struck by lightning. Therefore, goes the theory, there must be something about glass that repels lightning. Hence the best method for preventing a lightning strike to a wooden ship was to bury a small solid glass ball in the tip of the highest mast. The random behavior of lightning combined with observers’ confirmation bias ensured that the method gained a good bit of credence even after the development of the marine lightning rod soon after Franklin’s initial work.

The first lightning conductors on ships were supposed to be hoisted when lightning was anticipated, and had a low success rate. In 1820 William Snow Harris invented a successful system for fitting lightning protection to the wooden sailing ships of the day, but despite successful trials which began in 1830, the British Royal Navy did not adopt the system until 1842, by which time the Imperial Russian Navy had already adopted the system.

In the 1990s, the ‘lightning points’ were replaced as originally constructed when the Statue of Freedom atop the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. was restored. The statue was designed with multiple devices that are tipped with platinum. The Washington Monument also was equipped with multiple lightning points, and the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor gets hit by lightning, which is shunted to ground.

Lightning Protection System


A lightning protection system is designed to protect a structure from damage due to lightning strikes by intercepting such strikes and safely passing their extremely high currents to ground. A lightning protection system includes a network of air terminals, bonding conductors, and ground electrodes designed to provide a low impedance path to ground for potential strikes.

Lightning protection systems are used to prevent or lessen lightning strike damage to structures. Lightning protection systems mitigate the fire hazard which lightning strikes pose to structures. A lightning protection system provides a low-impedance path for the lightning current to lessen the heating effect of current flowing through flammable structural materials. If lightning travels through porous and water-saturated materials, these materials may literally explode if their water content is flashed to steam by heat produced from the high current. This is why trees are often shattered by lightning strikes.

Because of the high energy and current levels associated with lightning (currents can be in excess of 150,000 amps), and the very rapid rise time of a lightning strike, no protection system can guarantee absolute safety from lightning. Lightning current will divide to follow every conductive path to ground, and even the divided current can cause damage. Secondary “side-flashes” can be enough to ignite a fire, blow apart brick, stone, or concrete, or injure occupants within a structure or building. However, the benefits of basic lightning protection systems have been evident for well over a century.

Laboratory-scale measurements of the effects of [any lightning investigation research] do not scale to applications involving natural lightning. Field applications have mainly been derived from trial and error based on the best intended laboratory research of a highly complex and variable phenomenon.

The parts of a lightning protection system are air terminals (lightning rods or strike termination devices), bonding conductors, ground terminals (ground or “earthing” rods, plates, or mesh), and all of the connectors and supports to complete the system. The air terminals are typically arranged at or along the upper points of a roof structure, and are electrically bonded together by bonding conductors (called “down conductors” or “downleads”), which are connected by the most direct route to one or more grounding or earthing terminals. Connections to the earth electrodes must not only have low resistance, but must have low self-inductance.

An example of a structure vulnerable to lightning is a wooden barn. When lightning strikes the barn, the wooden structure and its contents may be ignited by the heat generated by lightning current conducted through parts of the structure. A basic lightning protection system would provide a conductive path between an air terminal and earth, so that most of the lightning’s current will follow the path of the lightning protection system, with substantially less current traveling through flammable materials.

A controversy over the assortment of operation theories dates back to the 18th century, when Benjamin Franklin himself stated that his lightning protectors protected buildings by dissipating electric charge. He later retracted the statement, stating that the device’s exact mode of operation was something of a mystery at that point.  

Originally, scientists believed that such a lightning protection system of air terminals and “downleads” directed the current of the lightning down into the earth to be “dissipated”. However, high speed photography has clearly demonstrated that lightning is actually composed of both a cloud component and an oppositely charged ground component. During “cloud-to-ground” lightning, these oppositely charged components usually “meet” somewhere in the atmosphere well above the earth to equalize previously unbalanced charges. The heat generated as this electric current flows through flammable materials is the hazard which lightning protection systems attempt to mitigate by providing a low-resistance path for the lightning circuit. No lightning protection system can be relied upon to “contain” or “control” lightning completely (nor thus far, to prevent lightning strikes entirely), but they do seem to help immensely on most occasions of lightning strikes.

Steel framed structures can bond the structural members to earth to provide lightning protection. A metal flagpole with its foundation in the earth is its own extremely simple lightning protection system. However, the flag(s) flying from the pole during a lightning strike may be completely incinerated.

The majority of lightning protection systems in use today are of the traditional Franklin design. The fundamental principle used in Franklin-type lightning protections systems is to provide a sufficiently low impedance path for the lightning to travel through to reach ground without damaging the building. This is accomplished by surrounding the building in a kind of Faraday cage. A system of lightning protection conductors and lightning rods are installed on the roof of the building to intercept any lightning before it strikes the building.

Structure Protectors


Lightingrodplacement

Landscape suited for purpose of explanation: (1) Represents Lord Kelvin’s “reduced” area of the region; (2) Surface concentric with the Earth such that the quantities stored over it and under it are equal; (3) Building on a site of excessive electrostatic charge density; (4) Building on a site of low electrostatic charge density. (Image via U.S. Patent 1,266,175.)

Lightning arrester

335px-Statue_auf_dem_Bayerischen_Landtag_3427

Lightning rod on a statue.

In telegraphy and telephony, a lightning arrester is a device placed where wires enter a structure, in order to prevent damage to electronic instruments within and ensuring the safety of individuals near the structures. Lightning arresters, also called surge protectors, are devices that are connected between each electrical conductor in a power or communications system, and the ground. They help prevent the flow of the normal power or signal currents to ground, but provide a path over which high-voltage lightning current flows, bypassing the connected equipment. Arresters are used to limit the rise in voltage when a communications or power line is struck by lightning or is near to a lightning strike.

Protection of electric distribution systems

In overhead electric transmission (high-tension) systems, one or two lighter gauge conductors may be mounted to the top of the pylons, poles, or towers not specifically used to send electricity through the grid. These conductors, often referred to “static”, “pilot” or “shield” wires are designed to be the point of lightning termination instead of the high-voltage lines themselves. These conductors are intended to protect the primary power conductors from lightning strikes.

These conductors are bonded to earth either through the metal structure of a pole or tower, or by additional ground electrodes installed at regular intervals along the line. As a general rule, overhead power lines with voltages below 50 kV do not have a “static” conductor, but most lines carrying more than 50 kV do. The ground conductor cable may also support fibre optic cables for data transmission.

In some instances, these conductors are insulated from direct bonding with earth and may be used as low voltage communication lines. If the voltage exceeds a certain threshold, such as during a lightning termination to the conductor, it “jumps” the insulators and passes to earth.

Protection of electrical substations is as varied as lightning rods themselves, and is often proprietary to the electric company.

Lightning protection of mast radiators

Radio mast radiators may be insulated from the ground by a gap at the base. When lightning hits the mast, it jumps this gap. A small inductivity in the feed line between the mast and the tuning unit (usually one winding) limits the voltage increase, protecting the transmitter from dangerously high voltages. The transmitter must be equipped with a device to monitor the antenna’s electrical properties. This is very important, as a charge could remain after a lightning strike, damaging the gap or the insulators. The monitoring device switches off the transmitter when the antenna shows incorrect behavior, e.g. as a result of undesired electrical charge. When the transmitter is switched off, these charges dissipate. The monitoring device makes several attempts to switch back on. If after several attempts the antenna continues to show improper behavior, possibly as result of structural damage, the transmitter remains switched off.

Lightning conductors and grounding precautions

Ideally, the underground part of the assembly should reside in an area of high ground conductivity. If the underground cable is able to resist corrosion well, it can be covered in salt to improve its electrical connection with the ground. While the electrical resistance of the lightning conductor between the air terminal and the Earth is of significant concern, the inductive reactance of the conductor could be more important. For this reason, the down conductor route is kept short, and any curves have a large radius. If these measures are not taken, lightning current may arc over a resistive or reactive obstruction that it encounters in the conductor. At the very least, the arc current will damage the lightning conductor and can easily find another conductive path, such as building wiring or plumbing, and cause fires or other disasters. Grounding systems without low resistivity to the ground can still be effective in protecting a structure from lightning damage. When ground soil has poor conductivity, is very shallow, or non-existent, a grounding system can be augmented by adding ground rods, counterpoise (ground ring) conductor, cable radials projecting away from the building, or a concrete building’s reinforcing bars can be used for a ground conductor (Ufer ground). These additions, while still not reducing the resistance of the system in some instances, will allow the [dispersion] of the lightning into the earth without damage to the structure.

Additional precautions must be taken to prevent side-flashes between conductive objects on or in the structure and the lightning protection system. The surge of lightning current through a lightning protection conductor will create a voltage difference between it and any conductive objects that are near it. This voltage difference can be large enough to cause a dangerous side-flash (spark) between the two that can cause significant damage, especially on structures housing flammable or explosive materials. The most effective way to prevent this potential damage is to ensure the electrical continuity between the lightning protection system and any objects susceptible to a side-flash. Effective bonding will allow the voltage potential of the two objects to rise and fall simultaneously, thereby eliminating any risk of a side-flash.

Lightning protection system design

Considerable material is used to make up lightning protection systems, so it is prudent to consider carefully where an air terminal will provide the greatest protection. Historical understanding of lightning, from statements made by Ben Franklin, assumed that each lightning rod protected a cone of 45 degrees. This has been found to be unsatisfactory for protecting taller structures, as it is possible for lightning to strike the side of a building.

A modeling system based on a better understanding of the termination targeting of lightning, called the Rolling Sphere Method, was developed by Dr Tibor Horváth. It has become the standard by which traditional Franklin Rod systems are installed. To understand this requires knowledge of how lightning ‘moves’. As the step leader of a lightning bolt jumps toward the ground, it steps toward the grounded objects nearest its path. The maximum distance that each step may travel is called the critical distance and is proportional to the electric current. Objects are likely to be struck if they are nearer to the leader than this critical distance. It is standard practice to approximate the sphere’s radius as 46 m near the ground.

An object outside the critical distance is unlikely to be struck by the leader if there is a solidly grounded object within the critical distance. Locations that are considered safe from lightning can be determined by imagining a leader’s potential paths as a sphere that travels from the cloud to the ground. For lightning protection, it suffices to consider all possible spheres as they touch potential strike points. To determine strike points, consider a sphere rolling over the terrain. At each point, a potential leader position is simulated. Lightning is most likely to strike where the sphere touches the ground. Points that the sphere cannot roll across and touch are safest from lightning. Lightning protectors should be placed where they will prevent the sphere from touching a structure. A weak point in most lightning diversion systems is in transporting the captured discharge from the lightning rod to the ground, though. Lightning rods are typically installed around the perimeter of flat roofs, or along the peaks of sloped roofs at intervals of 6.1 m or 7.6 m, depending on the height of the rod. When a flat roof has dimensions greater than 15 m by 15 m, additional air terminals will be installed in the middle of the roof at intervals of 15 m or less in a rectangular grid pattern.

Rounded versus pointed ends

Pointed_Lightning_Rod

Pointed lightning rod on a building

The optimal shape for the tip of a lightning rod has been controversial since the 18th century. During the period of political confrontation between Britain and its American colonies, British scientists maintained that a lightning rod should have a ball on its end, while American scientists maintained that there should be a point. As of 2003, the controversy had not been completely resolved. It is difficult to resolve the controversy because proper controlled experiments are nearly impossible, but work performed by Charles B. Moore, et al., in 2000 has shed some light on the issue, finding that moderately rounded or blunt-tipped lightning rods act as marginally better strike receptors. As a result, round-tipped rods are installed on most new systems in the United States, though most existing systems still have pointed rods. According to the study,

[c]alculations of the relative strengths of the electric fields above similarly exposed sharp and blunt rods show that while the fields are much stronger at the tip of a sharp rod prior to any emissions, they decrease more rapidly with distance. As a result, at a few centimeters above the tip of a 20-mm-diameter blunt rod, the strength of the field is greater than over an otherwise similar, sharper rod of the same height. Since the field strength at the tip of a sharpened rod tends to be limited by the easy formation of ions in the surrounding air, the field strengths over blunt rods can be much stronger than those at distances greater than 1 cm over sharper ones.

The results of this study suggest that moderately blunt metal rods (with tip height to tip radius of curvature ratios of about 680:1) are better lightning strike receptors than sharper rods or very blunt ones.

In addition, the height of the lightning protector relative to the structure to be protected and the Earth itself will have an effect.

Charge Transfer theory

The Charge Transfer theory states that a lightning strike to a protected structure can be prevented by reducing the electrical potential between the protected structure and the thundercloud. This is done by transferring electric charge (such as from the nearby Earth to the sky or vice versa). Transferring electric charge from the Earth to the sky is done by installing engineered products composed of many points above the structure. It is noted that pointed objects will indeed transfer charge to the surrounding atmosphere and that a considerable electric current can be measured through the conductors as ionization occurs at the point when an electric field is present, such as happens when thunderclouds are overhead.

In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) does not currently[when?] endorse a device that can prevent or reduce lightning strikes. The NFPA Standards Council, following a request for a project to address Dissipation Array[tm] Systems and Charge Transfer Systems, denied the request to begin forming standards on such technology (though the Council did not foreclose on future standards development after reliable sources demonstrating the validity of the basic technology and science were submitted).

Early streamer emission (ESE) theory

376px-Lightning_Rod_Meteora

ESE lightning rod mounted at the Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas (Μονή του Αγίου Νικολάου), Meteora, Greece

The theory of early streamer emission proposes that if a lightning rod has a mechanism producing ionization near its tip, then its lightning capture area is greatly increased. At first, small quantities of radioactive isotopes (radium-226 or americium-241) were used as sources of ionization between 1930 and 1980, later replaced with various electrical and electronic devices. According to an early patent, since most lightning protectors’ ground potentials are elevated, the path distance from the source to the elevated ground point will be shorter, creating a stronger field (measured in volts per unit distance) and that structure will be more prone to ionization and breakdown.

AFNOR, the French national standardization body, issued a standard, NF C 17-102, covering this technology. The NFPA also investigated the subject and there was a proposal to issue a similar standard in the USA. Initially, an NFPA independent third party panel stated that “the [Early Streamer Emission] lightning protection technology appears to be technically sound” and that there was an “adequate theoretical basis for the [Early Streamer Emission] air terminal concept and design from a physical viewpoint”.) The same panel also concluded that “the recommended [NFPA 781 standard] lightning protection system has never been scientifically or technically validated and the Franklin rod air terminals have not been validated in field tests under thunderstorm conditions.”

In response, the American Geophysical Union concluded that “[t]he Bryan Panel reviewed essentially none of the studies and literature on the effectiveness and scientific basis of traditional lightning protection systems and was erroneous in its conclusion that there was no basis for the Standard.” AGU did not attempt to assess the effectiveness of any proposed modifications to traditional systems in its report. The NFPA withdrew its proposed draft edition of standard 781 due to a lack of evidence of increased effectiveness of Early Streamer Emission-based protection systems over conventional air terminals.

Members of the Scientific Committee of the International Conference on Lightning Protection (ICLP) have issued a joint statement stating their opposition to Early Streamer Emission technology. ICLP maintains a web page with information related to ESE and related technologies. Still, the number of buildings and structures equipped with ESE lightning protection systems is growing as well as the number of manufacturers of ESE air terminals from Europe, Americas, Middle East, Russia, China, South Korea, ASEAN countries, and Australia.

Analysis of Strikes


Lightning strikes to a metallic structure can vary from leaving no evidence, except perhaps, a small pit in the metal, to the complete destruction of the structure. When there is no evidence, analyzing the strikes is difficult. This means that a strike on an uninstrumented structure must be visually confirmed, and the random behavior of lightning renders such observations difficult. There are also inventors working on this problem, such as through a lightning rocket. While controlled experiments may be off in the future, very good data is being obtained through techniques which use radio receivers that watch for the characteristic electrical ‘signature’ of lightning strikes using fixed directional antennas. Through accurate timing and triangulation techniques, lightning strikes can be located with great precision, so strikes on specific objects often can be confirmed with confidence.

The energy in a lightning strike is typically in the range of 1 to 10 billion joules. This energy is released usually in a small number of separate strokes, each with duration of a few tens of microseconds (typically 30 to 50 microseconds), over a period of about one fifth of a second. The great majority of the energy is dissipated as heat, light and sound in the atmosphere.

Aircraft Protectors


Lightning protection for aircraft is provided by mounting devices on the aircraft structure. The protectors are provided with extensions through the structure of the aircraft’s outer surface and within a static discharger. Protection systems for use in aircraft must protect critical and non-critical electronic equipment. Aircraft lightning protection provides an electrical path having a plurality of conductive segments, continuous or discontinuous, that upon exposure to a high voltage field form an ionization channel due to the system’s breakdown voltage. Various lightning protection systems must reject the surge currents associated with the lightning strikes. Lightning protection means for aircraft include components which are dielectrics and metallic layers applied to the ordinarily lightning-accessible surfaces of composite structures. Various ground connection means to the layers comprises a section of wire mesh fusing the various layers to an attachment connecting the structure to an adjacent ground structure. Composite-to-metal or composite-to-composite structural joints are protected by making the interface areas conductive for transfer of lightning current.

Some aircraft lightning protection systems use a shielded cable system. These systems consist of one or more conductors enclosed by a conductive shield. The cable has both conductors of one end connected to a grounding element. This is intended to provide protection from electromagnetic interference. Such systems reduce the electromagnetically induced voltage in a shielded conductor. This is intended to provide protection against induced electromagnetic interference from lightning. This network provides a normally-high impedance which breaks down to a very low impedance in response to a momentary voltage surge electromagnetically induced in the shield. This establishes a conductive path between the shield and ground. Any surge voltage from lightning creates a current through the cable. This results in an electromagnetic field of the opposite direction, which cancels or reduces the magnitude of the electromagnetic field within the shielded cable.

Watercraft Protectors


A lightning protection installation on a watercraft comprises a lightning protector mounted on the top of a mast or superstructure, and a grounding conductor in contact with the water. Electrical conductors attach to the protector and run down to the conductor. For a vessel with a conducting (iron or steel) hull, the grounding conductor is the hull. For a vessel with a non-conducting hull, the grounding conductor may be retractable, attached to the hull, or attached to a centerboard.

Risk Assessment


Some structures are inherently more or less at risk of being struck by lightning. The risk for a structure is a function of the size (area) of a structure, the height, and the number of lightning strikes per year per mi² for the region. For example, a small building will be less likely to be struck than a large one, and a building in an area with a high density of lightning strikes will be more likely to be struck than one in an area with a low density of lightning strikes. The National Fire Protection Association provides a risk assessment worksheet in their lightning protection standard.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) lightning risk-assessment comprises four parts: loss of living beings, loss of service to public, loss of cultural heritage, and loss of economic value. Loss of living beings is rated as the most important and is the only loss taken into consideration for many nonessential industrial and commercial applications.

Standards


Several lightning protection masts can be seen in the background of this photo of a rocket launch site.

The introduction of lightning protection systems into standards allowed various manufactures to develop protector systems to a multitude of specifications. There are multiple international, national, corporate and military lightning protection standards.

  • NFPA-780: “Standard for the Installation of Lightning Protection Systems” (2014)
  • M440.1-1, Electrical Storms and Lightning Protection, Department of Energy
  • AFI 32-1065 – Grounding Systems, U. S. Air Force Space Command
  • FAA STD 019e, Lightning and Surge Protection, Grounding, Bonding and Shielding Requirements for Facilities and Electronic Equipment
  • UL standards for lightning protection
    • UL 96: “Standard of Lightning Protection Components” (5th Edition, 2005)
    • UL 96A: “Standard for Installation Requirements for Lightning Protection Systems” (Twelfth Edition, 2007)
    • UL 1449: “Standard for Surge Protective Devices” (Fourth Edition, 2014)
  • IEC standards
    • EN 61000-4-5/IEC 61000-4-5: “Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) – Part 4-5: Testing and measurement techniques – Surge immunity test”
    • EN 62305/IEC 62305: “Protection against lightning”
    • EN 62561/IEC 62561: “Lightning Protection System Components (LPSC)”
  • ITU-T K Series recommendations: “Protection against interference”
  • IEEE standards for grounding
    • IEEE SA-142-2007: “IEEE Recommended Practice for Grounding of Industrial and Commercial Power Systems.” (2007)
    • IEEE SA-1100-2005: “IEEE Recommended Practice for Powering and Grounding Electronic Equipment” (2005)
  • AFNOR NF C 17-102: “Lightning protection – Protection of structures and open areas against lightning using early streamer emission air terminals” (1995)

Benjamin Franklin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Benjamin Franklin FRS, FRSE (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was a renowned polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, freemason, postmaster, scientist, inventor, humorist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He founded many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and the University of Pennsylvania.

Franklin earned the title of “The First American” for his early and indefatigable campaigning for colonial unity, initially as an author and spokesman in London for several colonies. As the first United States Ambassador to France, he exemplified the emerging American nation. Franklin was foundational in defining the American ethos as a marriage of the practical values of thrift, hard work, education, community spirit, self-governing institutions, and opposition to authoritarianism both political and religious, with the scientific and tolerant values of the Enlightenment. In the words of historian Henry Steele Commager, “In a Franklin could be merged the virtues of Puritanism without its defects, the illumination of the Enlightenment without its heat.” To Walter Isaacson, this makes Franklin “the most accomplished American of his age and the most influential in inventing the type of society America would become.”

Franklin became a successful newspaper editor and printer in Philadelphia, the leading city in the colonies, publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette at the age of 23. He became wealthy publishing this and Poor Richard’s Almanack, which he authored under the pseudonym “Richard Saunders”. After 1767, he was associated with the Pennsylvania Chronicle, a newspaper that was known for its revolutionary sentiments and criticisms of the British policies.

He pioneered and was first president of Academy and College of Philadelphia which opened in 1751 and later became the University of Pennsylvania. He organized and was the first secretary of the American Philosophical Society and was elected president in 1769. Franklin became a national hero in America as an agent for several colonies when he spearheaded an effort in London to have the Parliament of Great Britain repeal the unpopular Stamp Act. An accomplished diplomat, he was widely admired among the French as American minister to Paris and was a major figure in the development of positive Franco-American relations. His efforts proved vital for the American Revolution in securing shipments of crucial munitions from France.

He was promoted to deputy postmaster-general for the British colonies in 1753, having been Philadelphia postmaster for many years, and this enabled him to set up the first national communications network. During the Revolution, he became the first United States Postmaster General. He was active in community affairs and colonial and state politics, as well as national and international affairs. From 1785 to 1788, he served as governor of Pennsylvania. He initially owned and dealt in slaves but, by the 1750s, he argued against slavery from an economic perspective and became one of the most prominent abolitionists.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and his status as one of America’s most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored more than two centuries after his death on coinage and the $100 bill, warships, and the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, and corporations, as well as countless cultural references.

Ancestry


Benjamin Franklin’s father, Josiah Franklin, was a tallow chandler, a soap-maker and a candle-maker. Josiah was born at Ecton, Northamptonshire, England on December 23, 1657, the son of Thomas Franklin, a blacksmith-farmer, and Jane White. Benjamin’s mother, Abiah Folger, was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on August 15, 1667, to Peter Folger, a miller and schoolteacher, and his wife, Mary Morrell Folger, a former indentured servant.

Benjamin’s father and all four of his grandparents were born in England.

Josiah had seventeen children with his two wives. He married his first wife, Anne Child, in about 1677 in Ecton and immigrated with her to Boston in 1683; they had three children before immigrating, and four after. Following her death, Josiah was married to Abiah Folger on July 9, 1689 in the Old South Meeting House by Samuel Willard. Benjamin, their eighth child, was Josiah Franklin’s fifteenth child and tenth and last son.

Benjamin’s mother, Abiah, was born into a Puritan family that was among the first Pilgrims to flee to Massachusetts for religious freedom, when King Charles I of England began persecuting Puritans. They sailed for Boston in 1635. Her father was “the sort of rebel destined to transform colonial America.” As clerk of the court, he was jailed for disobeying the local magistrate in defense of middle-class shopkeepers and artisans in conflict with wealthy landowners. Ben Franklin followed in his grandfather’s footsteps in his battles against the wealthy Penn family that owned the Pennsylvania Colony.

Ancestors of Benjamin Franklin


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Early life in Boston


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Franklin’s birthplace on Milk Street, Boston, Massachusetts

Franklin’s birthplace site directly across from Old South Meeting House on Milk Street is commemorated by a bust above the second floor facade of this building.
Benjamin Franklin was born on Milk Street, in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706, and baptized at Old South Meeting House. He was one of seventeen children born to Josiah Franklin, and one of ten born by Josiah’s second wife, Abiah Folger; the daughter of Peter Foulger and Mary Morrill. Among Benjamin’s siblings were his older brother James and his younger sister Jane.

Josiah wanted Ben to attend school with the clergy, but only had enough money to send him to school for two years. He attended Boston Latin School but did not graduate; he continued his education through voracious reading. Although “his parents talked of the church as a career” for Franklin, his schooling ended when he was ten. He worked for his father for a time, and at 12 he became an apprentice to his brother James, a printer, who taught Ben the printing trade. When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies.

When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of “Silence Dogood”, a middle-aged widow. Mrs. Dogood’s letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courant’s readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother. Franklin was an advocate of free speech from an early age. When his brother was jailed for three weeks in 1722 for publishing material unflattering to the governor, young Franklin took over the newspaper and had Mrs. Dogood (quoting Cato’s Letters) proclaim: “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.” Franklin left his apprenticeship without his brother’s permission, and in so doing became a fugitive.

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Franklin’s birthplace site directly across from Old South Meeting House on Milk Street is commemorated by a bust above the second floor facade of this building.

Philadelphia


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La scuola della economia e della morale (1825)

At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city. When he first arrived, he worked in several printer shops around town, but he was not satisfied by the immediate prospects. After a few months, while working in a printing house, Franklin was convinced by Pennsylvania Governor Sir William Keith to go to London, ostensibly to acquire the equipment necessary for establishing another newspaper in Philadelphia. Finding Keith’s promises of backing a newspaper empty, Franklin worked as a typesetter in a printer’s shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in the Smithfield area of London. Following this, he returned to Philadelphia in 1726 with the help of Thomas Denham, a merchant who employed Franklin as clerk, shopkeeper, and bookkeeper in his business.

Junto and Library

In 1727, Benjamin Franklin, then 21, created the Junto, a group of “like minded aspiring artisans and tradesmen who hoped to improve themselves while they improved their community.” The Junto was a discussion group for issues of the day; it subsequently gave rise to many organizations in Philadelphia. The Junto was modeled after English coffeehouses that Franklin knew well, and which had become the center of the spread of Enlightenment ideas in Britain.

Reading was a great pastime of the Junto, but books were rare and expensive. The members created a library initially assembled from their own books after Franklin wrote:

A proposition was made by me that since our books were often referr’d to in our disquisitions upon the inquiries, it might be convenient for us to have them altogether where we met, that upon occasion they might be consulted; and by thus clubbing our books to a common library, we should, while we lik’d to keep them together, have each of us the advantage of using the books of all the other members, which would be nearly as beneficial as if each owned the whole.

This did not suffice, however. Franklin conceived the idea of a subscription library, which would pool the funds of the members to buy books for all to read. This was the birth of the Library Company of Philadelphia: its charter was composed by Franklin in 1731. In 1732, Franklin hired the first American librarian, Louis Timothee. The Library Company is now a great scholarly and research library.

Newspaperman

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Benjamin Franklin (center) at work on a printing press. Reproduction of a Charles Mills painting by the Detroit Publishing Company.

Upon Denham’s death, Franklin returned to his former trade. In 1728, Franklin had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredith; the following year he became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations. Over time, his commentary, and his adroit cultivation of a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man, earned him a great deal of social respect. But even after Franklin had achieved fame as a scientist and statesman, he habitually signed his letters with the unpretentious ‘B. Franklin, Printer.’

In 1732, Ben Franklin published the first German-language newspaper in America – Die Philadelphische Zeitung – although it failed after only one year, because four other newly founded German papers quickly dominated the newspaper market. Franklin printed Moravian religious books in German. Franklin often visited Bethlehem, Pennsylvania staying at the Moravian Sun Inn. In a 1751 pamphlet on demographic growth and its implications for the colonies, he called the Pennsylvania Germans “Palatine Boors” who could never acquire the “Complexion” of the English settlers and to “Blacks and Tawneys” as weakening the social structure of the colonies. Although Franklin apparently reconsidered shortly thereafter, and the phrases were omitted from all later printings of the pamphlet, his views may have played a role in his political defeat in 1764.

Franklin saw the printing press as a device to instruct colonial Americans in moral virtue. Frasca argues he saw this as a service to God, because he understood moral virtue in terms of actions, thus, doing good provides a service to God. Despite his own moral lapses, Franklin saw himself as uniquely qualified to instruct Americans in morality. He tried to influence American moral life through construction of a printing network based on a chain of partnerships from the Carolinas to New England. Franklin thereby invented the first newspaper chain. It was more than a business venture, for like many publishers since, he believed that the press had a public-service duty.

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Coat of Arms of Benjamin Franklin

When Franklin established himself in Philadelphia, shortly before 1730, the town boasted two “wretched little” news sheets, Andrew Bradford’s The American Weekly Mercury, and Samuel Keimer’s Universal Instructor in all Arts and Sciences, and Pennsylvania Gazette. This instruction in all arts and sciences consisted of weekly extracts from Chambers’s Universal Dictionary. Franklin quickly did away with all this when he took over the Instructor and made it The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette soon became Franklin’s characteristic organ, which he freely used for satire, for the play of his wit, even for sheer excess of mischief or of fun. From the first, he had a way of adapting his models to his own uses. The series of essays called “The Busy-Body”, which he wrote for Bradford’s American Mercury in 1729, followed the general Addisonian form, already modified to suit homelier conditions. The thrifty Patience, in her busy little shop, complaining of the useless visitors who waste her valuable time, is related to the ladies who address Mr. Spectator. The Busy-Body himself is a true Censor Morum, as Isaac Bickerstaff had been in the Tatler. And a number of the fictitious characters, Ridentius, Eugenius, Cato, and Cretico, represent traditional 18th-century classicism. Even this Franklin could use for contemporary satire, since Cretico, the “sowre Philosopher”, is evidently a portrait of Franklin’s rival, Samuel Keimer.

As time went on, Franklin depended less on his literary conventions, and more on his own native humor. In this there is a new spirit—not suggested to him by the fine breeding of Addison, or the bitter irony of Swift, or the stinging completeness of Pope. The brilliant little pieces Franklin wrote for his Pennsylvania Gazette have an imperishable place in American literature.

The Pennsylvania Gazette, like most other newspapers of the period, was often poorly printed. Franklin was busy with a hundred matters outside of his printing office, and never seriously attempted to raise the mechanical standards of his trade. Nor did he ever properly edit or collate the chance medley of stale items that passed for news in the Gazette. His influence on the practical side of journalism was minimal. On the other hand, his advertisements of books show his very great interest in popularizing secular literature. Undoubtedly his paper contributed to the broader culture that distinguished Pennsylvania from her neighbors before the Revolution. Like many publishers, Franklin built up a book shop in his printing office; he took the opportunity to read new books before selling them.

Franklin had mixed success in his plan to establish an inter-colonial network of newspapers that would produce a profit for him and disseminate virtue. He began in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1731. After the second editor died, his widow Elizabeth Timothy took over and made it a success, 1738–46. She was one of the colonial era’s first woman printers. For three decades Franklin maintained a close business relationship with her and her son Peter who took over in 1746. The Gazette had a policy of impartiality in political debates, while creating the opportunity for public debate, which encouraged others to challenge authority. Editor Peter Timothy avoided blandness and crude bias, and after 1765 increasingly took a patriotic stand in the growing crisis with Great Britain. However, Franklin’s Connecticut Gazette (1755–68) proved unsuccessful.

Freemason

In 1731, Franklin was initiated into the local Masonic lodge. He became Grand Master in 1734, indicating his rapid rise to prominence in Pennsylvania. That same year, he edited and published the first Masonic book in the Americas, a reprint of James Anderson’s Constitutions of the Free-Masons. Franklin remained a Freemason for the rest of his life.

Common-law marriage to Deborah Read

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Deborah Read Franklin
(c. 1759). Common-law wife of Benjamin Franklin

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Sarah Franklin Bache (1743–1808). Daughter of Benjamin Franklin and Deborah Read

At age 17 in 1723, Franklin proposed to 15-year-old Deborah Read while a boarder in the Read home. At that time, Read’s mother was wary of allowing her young daughter to marry Franklin, who was on his way to London at Governor Sir William Keith’s request, and also because of his financial instability. Her own husband had recently died, and she declined Franklin’s request to marry her daughter.

While Franklin was in London, his trip was extended, and there were problems with Sir William’s promises of support. Perhaps because of the circumstances of this delay, Deborah married a man named John Rodgers. This proved to be a regrettable decision. Rodgers shortly avoided his debts and prosecution by fleeing to Barbados with her dowry, leaving her behind. Rodgers’s fate was unknown, and because of bigamy laws, Deborah was not free to remarry.

Franklin established a common-law marriage with Deborah Read on September 1, 1730. They took in Franklin’s recently acknowledged young illegitimate son William and raised him in their household. They had two children together. Their son, Francis Folger Franklin, was born in October 1732 and died of smallpox in 1736. Their daughter, Sarah “Sally” Franklin, was born in 1743 and grew up to marry Richard Bache, have seven children, and look after her father in his old age.

Deborah’s fear of the sea meant that she never accompanied Franklin on any of his extended trips to Europe, and another possible reason why they spent so much time apart is that he may have blamed her for preventing their son Francis from being vaccinated against the disease that subsequently killed him. Deborah wrote to him in November 1769 saying she was ill due to “dissatisfied distress” from his prolonged absence, but he did not return until his business was done. Deborah Read Franklin died of a stroke in 1774, while Franklin was on an extended mission to England; he returned in 1775.

William Franklin

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William Franklin

In 1730, 24-year-old Franklin publicly acknowledged the existence of his son William, who was deemed “illegitimate,” as he was born out of wedlock, and raised him in his household. His mother’s identity is unknown. He was educated in Philadelphia. Beginning at about age 30, William studied law in London in the early 1760s. He fathered an illegitimate son, William Temple Franklin, born February 22, 1762. The boy’s mother was never identified, and he was placed in foster care. Franklin later that year married Elizabeth Downes, daughter of a planter from Barbados. After William passed the bar, his father helped him gain an appointment in 1763 as the last Royal Governor of New Jersey.

A Loyalist, William and his father eventually broke relations over their differences about the American Revolutionary War. The elder Franklin could never accept William’s position. Deposed in 1776 by the revolutionary government of New Jersey, William was arrested at his home in Perth Amboy at the Proprietary House and imprisoned for a time. The younger Franklin went to New York in 1782, which was still occupied by British troops. He became leader of the Board of Associated Loyalists—a quasi-military organization, headquartered in New York City. They initiated guerrilla forays into New Jersey, southern Connecticut, and New York counties north of the city. When British troops evacuated from New York, William Franklin left with them and sailed to England. He settled in London, never to return to North America. In the preliminary peace talks in 1782 with Britain, “… Benjamin Franklin insisted that loyalists who had borne arms against the United States would be excluded from this plea (that they be given a general pardon). He was undoubtedly thinking of William Franklin.”

Success as an Author

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Franklin’s The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle (Jan. 1741)

In 1733, Franklin began to publish the noted Poor Richard’s Almanack (with content both original and borrowed) under the pseudonym Richard Saunders, on which much of his popular reputation is based. Franklin frequently wrote under pseudonyms. Although it was no secret that Franklin was the author, his Richard Saunders character repeatedly denied it. “Poor Richard’s Proverbs”, adages from this almanac, such as “A penny saved is twopence dear” (often misquoted as “A penny saved is a penny earned”) and “Fish and visitors stink in three days”, remain common quotations in the modern world. Wisdom in folk society meant the ability to provide an apt adage for any occasion, and Franklin’s readers became well prepared. He sold about ten thousand copies per year—it became an institution. In 1741 Franklin began publishing The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America, the first such monthly magazine of this type published in America.

In 1758, the year he ceased writing for the Almanack, he printed Father Abraham’s Sermon, also known as The Way to Wealth. Franklin’s autobiography, begun in 1771 but published after his death, has become one of the classics of the genre.

Daylight saving time (DST) is often erroneously attributed to a 1784 satire that Franklin published anonymously. Modern DST was first proposed by George Vernon Hudson in 1895.

Inventions and scientific inquiries


Further information: Social contributions and studies by Benjamin Franklin
Franklin was a prodigious inventor. Among his many creations were the lightning rod, glass harmonica (a glass instrument, not to be confused with the metal harmonica), Franklin stove, bifocal glasses and the flexible urinary catheter. Franklin never patented his inventions; in his autobiography he wrote, “… as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously.”

Electricity

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Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky c. 1816 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, by Benjamin West

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Franklin and Electricity vignette engraved by the BEP (c. 1860).

Franklin started exploring the phenomenon of electricity in 1746 when he saw some of Archibald Spencer’s lectures using static electricity for illustrations. Franklin proposed that “vitreous” and “resinous” electricity were not different types of “electrical fluid” (as electricity was called then), but the same “fluid” under different pressures. (The same proposal was made independently that same year by William Watson.) Franklin was the first to label them as positive and negative respectively, and he was the first to discover the principle of conservation of charge. In 1748 he constructed a multiple plate capacitor, that he called an “electrical battery” (not to be confused with Volta’s pile) by placing eleven panes of glass sandwiched between lead plates, suspended with silk cords and connected by wires.

In recognition of his work with electricity, Franklin received the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1753, and in 1756 he became one of the few 18th-century Americans elected as a Fellow of the Society. He received honorary degrees from Harvard and Yale universities (his first). The cgs unit of electric charge has been named after him: one franklin (Fr) is equal to one statcoulomb.

Franklin advised Harvard University in its acquisition of new electrical laboratory apparatus after the complete loss of its original collection, in a fire which destroyed the original Harvard Hall in 1764. The collection he assembled would later become part of the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, now on public display in its Science Center.

Kite experiment and lightning rod

In 1750, he published a proposal for an experiment to prove that lightning is electricity by flying a kite in a storm that appeared capable of becoming a lightning storm. On May 10, 1752, Thomas-François Dalibard of France conducted Franklin’s experiment using a 40-foot-tall (12 m) iron rod instead of a kite, and he extracted electrical sparks from a cloud. On June 15 Franklin may possibly have conducted his well-known kite experiment in Philadelphia, successfully extracting sparks from a cloud. Franklin described the experiment in the Pennsylvania Gazette on October 19, 1752, without mentioning that he himself had performed it. This account was read to the Royal Society on December 21 and printed as such in the Philosophical Transactions. Joseph Priestley published details in his 1767 History and Present Status of Electricity. Franklin was careful to stand on an insulator, keeping dry under a roof to avoid the danger of electric shock. Others, such as Prof. Georg Wilhelm Richmann in Russia, were indeed electrocuted during the months following Franklin’s experiment.

In his writings, Franklin indicates that he was aware of the dangers and offered alternative ways to demonstrate that lightning was electrical, as shown by his use of the concept of electrical ground. Franklin did not perform this experiment in the way that is often pictured in popular literature, flying the kite and waiting to be struck by lightning, as it would have been dangerous. Instead he used the kite to collect some electric charge from a storm cloud, showing that lightning was electrical. On October 19 in a letter to England with directions for repeating the experiment, Franklin wrote:

When rain has wet the kite twine so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it streams out plentifully from the key at the approach of your knuckle, and with this key a phial, or Leyden jar, may be charged: and from electric fire thus obtained spirits may be kindled, and all other electric experiments [may be] performed which are usually done by the help of a rubber glass globe or tube; and therefore the sameness of the electrical matter with that of lightening completely demonstrated.

Franklin’s electrical experiments led to his invention of the lightning rod. He noted that conductors with a sharp rather than a smooth point could discharge silently, and at a far greater distance. He surmised that this could help protect buildings from lightning by attaching “upright Rods of Iron, made sharp as a Needle and gilt to prevent Rusting, and from the Foot of those Rods a Wire down the outside of the Building into the Ground; … Would not these pointed Rods probably draw the Electrical Fire silently out of a Cloud before it came nigh enough to strike, and thereby secure us from that most sudden and terrible Mischief!” Following a series of experiments on Franklin’s own house, lightning rods were installed on the Academy of Philadelphia (later the University of Pennsylvania) and the Pennsylvania State House (later Independence Hall) in 1752.

Population Studies

Franklin had a major influence on the emerging science of demography, or population studies. Thomas Malthus is noted for his rule of population growth and credited Franklin for discovering it. Kammen (1990) and Drake (2011) say Franklin’s “Observations on the Increase of Mankind” (1755) stands alongside Ezra Stiles’ “Discourse on Christian Union” (1760) as the leading works of eighteenth-century Anglo-American demography; Drake credits Franklin’s “wide readership and prophetic insight.”

In the 1730s and 1740s, Franklin began taking notes on population growth, finding that the American population had the fastest growth rates on earth. Emphasizing that population growth depended on food supplies—a line of thought later developed by Thomas Malthus—Franklin emphasized the abundance of food and available farmland in America. He calculated that America’s population was doubling every twenty years and would surpass that of England in a century. In 1751, he drafted “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.” Four years later, it was anonymously printed in Boston, and it was quickly reproduced in Britain, where it influenced the economists Adam Smith and later Thomas Malthus. Franklin’s predictions alarmed British leaders who did not want to be surpassed by the colonies, so they became more willing to impose restrictions on the colonial economy.

Franklin was also a pioneer in the study of slave demography, as shown in his 1755 essay.

Atlantic Ocean Currents

As deputy postmaster, Franklin became interested in the North Atlantic Ocean circulation patterns. While in England in 1768, he heard a complaint from the Colonial Board of Customs: Why did it take British packet ships carrying mail several weeks longer to reach New York than it took an average merchant ship to reach Newport, Rhode Island? The merchantmen had a longer and more complex voyage because they left from London, while the packets left from Falmouth in Cornwall.

Franklin put the question to his cousin Timothy Folger, a Nantucket whaler captain, who told him that merchant ships routinely avoided a strong eastbound mid-ocean current. The mail packet captains sailed dead into it, thus fighting an adverse current of 3 miles per hour (5 km/h). Franklin worked with Folger and other experienced ship captains, learning enough to chart the current and name it the Gulf Stream, by which it is still known today.

Franklin published his Gulf Stream chart in 1770 in England, where it was completely ignored. Subsequent versions were printed in France in 1778 and the U.S. in 1786. The British edition of the chart, which was the original, was so thoroughly ignored that everyone assumed it was lost forever until Phil Richardson, a Woods Hole oceanographer and Gulf Stream expert, discovered it in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in 1980. This find received front-page coverage in the New York Times.

It took many years for British sea captains to adopt Franklin’s advice on navigating the current; once they did, they were able to trim two weeks from their sailing time. In 1853, the oceanographer and cartographer Matthew Fontaine Maury noted that while Franklin charted and codified the Gulf Stream, he did not discover it:

Though it was Dr. Franklin and Captain Tim Folger, who first turned the Gulf Stream to nautical account, the discovery that there was a Gulf Stream cannot be said to belong to either of them, for its existence was known to Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, and to Sir Humphrey Gilbert, in the 16th century.

Wave theory of light

Franklin was, along with his contemporary Leonhard Euler, the only major scientist who supported Christiaan Huygens’s wave theory of light, which was basically ignored by the rest of the scientific community. In the 18th century Newton’s corpuscular theory was held to be true; only after Young’s well-known slit experiment in 1803 were most scientists persuaded to believe Huygens’s theory.

Meteorology

On October 21, 1743, according to popular myth, a storm moving from the southwest denied Franklin the opportunity of witnessing a lunar eclipse. Franklin was said to have noted that the prevailing winds were actually from the northeast, contrary to what he had expected. In correspondence with his brother, Franklin learned that the same storm had not reached Boston until after the eclipse, despite the fact that Boston is to the northeast of Philadelphia. He deduced that storms do not always travel in the direction of the prevailing wind, a concept that greatly influenced meteorology.

After the Icelandic volcanic eruption of Laki in 1783, and the subsequent harsh European winter of 1784, Franklin made observations connecting the causal nature of these two separate events. He wrote about them in a lecture series.

Traction kiting

Though Benjamin Franklin has been most noted kite-wise with his lightning experiments, he has also been noted by many for his using kites to pull humans and ships across waterways. The George Pocock in the book A TREATISE on The Aeropleustic Art, or Navigation in the Air, by means of Kites, or Buoyant Sails noted being inspired by Benjamin Franklin’s traction of his body by kite power across a waterway. In his later years he suggested using the technique for pulling ships.

Concept of cooling

Franklin noted a principle of refrigeration by observing that on a very hot day, he stayed cooler in a wet shirt in a breeze than he did in a dry one. To understand this phenomenon more clearly Franklin conducted experiments. In 1758 on a warm day in Cambridge, England, Franklin and fellow scientist John Hadley experimented by continually wetting the ball of a mercury thermometer with ether and using bellows to evaporate the ether. With each subsequent evaporation, the thermometer read a lower temperature, eventually reaching 7 °F (−14 °C). Another thermometer showed that the room temperature was constant at 65 °F (18 °C). In his letter Cooling by Evaporation, Franklin noted that, “One may see the possibility of freezing a man to death on a warm summer’s day.”

Temperature’s effect on electrical conductivity

According to Michael Faraday, Franklin’s experiments on the non-conduction of ice are worth mentioning, although the law of the general effect of liquefaction on electrolytes is not attributed to Franklin. However, as reported in 1836 by Prof. A. D. Bache of the University of Pennsylvania, the law of the effect of heat on the conduction of bodies otherwise non-conductors, for example, glass, could be attributed to Franklin. Franklin writes, “… A certain quantity of heat will make some bodies good conductors, that will not otherwise conduct …” and again, “… And water, though naturally a good conductor, will not conduct well when frozen into ice.”

Oceanography findings

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An illustration from Franklin’s paper on “Water-spouts and Whirlwinds”

An aging Franklin accumulated all his oceanographic findings in Maritime Observations, published by the Philosophical Society’s transactions in 1786. It contained ideas for sea anchors, catamaran hulls, watertight compartments, shipboard lightning rods and a soup bowl designed to stay stable in stormy weather.

Decision-making

In a 1772 letter to Joseph Priestley, Franklin lays out the earliest known description of the Pro & Con list, a common decision-making technique, now sometimes called a decisional balance sheet:

… my Way is, to divide half a Sheet of Paper by a Line into two Columns, writing over the one Pro, and over the other Con. Then during three or four Days Consideration I put down under the different Heads short Hints of the different Motives that at different Times occur to me for or against the Measure. When I have thus got them all together in one View, I endeavour to estimate their respective Weights; and where I find two, one on each side, that seem equal, I strike them both out: If I find a Reason pro equal to some two Reasons con, I strike out the three. If I judge some two Reasons con equal to some three Reasons pro, I strike out the five; and thus proceeding I find at length where the Ballance lies; and if after a Day or two of farther Consideration nothing new that is of Importance occurs on either side, I come to a Determination accordingly.

Oil on water

While traveling on a ship, Franklin had observed that the wake of a ship was diminished when the cooks scuttled their greasy water. He studied the effects on a large pond in Clapham Common, London. “I fetched out a cruet of oil and dropt a little of it on the water … though not more than a teaspoon full, produced an instant calm over a space of several yards square.” He later used the trick to “calm the waters” by carrying “a little oil in the hollow joint of my cane”.

Musical endeavors


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Glass harmonica

Franklin is known to have played the violin, the harp, and the guitar. He also composed music, notably a string quartet in early classical style. He developed a much-improved version of the glass harmonica, in which the glasses rotate on a shaft, with the player’s fingers held steady, instead of the other way around; this version soon found its way to Europe.

Chess


Franklin was an avid chess player. He was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies. His essay on “The Morals of Chess” in Columbian magazine in December 1786 is the second known writing on chess in America. This essay in praise of chess and prescribing a code of behavior for the game has been widely reprinted and translated. He and a friend also used chess as a means of learning the Italian language, which both were studying; the winner of each game between them had the right to assign a task, such as parts of the Italian grammar to be learned by heart, to be performed by the loser before their next meeting.

Franklin was able to play chess more frequently against stronger opposition during his many years as a civil servant and diplomat in England, where the game was far better established than in America. He was able to improve his playing standard by facing more experienced players during this period. He regularly attended Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in London for chess and socializing, making many important personal contacts. While in Paris, both as a visitor and later as ambassador, he visited the famous Café de la Régence, which France’s strongest players made their regular meeting place. No records of his games have survived, so it is not possible to ascertain his playing strength in modern terms.

Franklin was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1999. The Franklin Mercantile Chess Club in Philadelphia, the second oldest chess club in the U.S., is named in his honor.

Public Life


Early steps in Pennsylvania

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Join, or Die: This political cartoon by Franklin urged the colonies to join together during the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War).

In 1736, Franklin created the Union Fire Company, one of the first volunteer firefighting companies in America. In the same year, he printed a new currency for New Jersey based on innovative anti-counterfeiting techniques he had devised. Throughout his career, Franklin was an advocate for paper money, publishing A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of a Paper Currency in 1729, and his printer printed money. He was influential in the more restrained and thus successful monetary experiments in the Middle Colonies, which stopped deflation without causing excessive inflation. In 1766 he made a case for paper money to the British House of Commons.

As he matured, Franklin began to concern himself more with public affairs. In 1743, he first devised a scheme for The Academy, Charity School, and College of Philadelphia. However, the person he had in mind to run the academy, Rev. Richard Peters, refused and Franklin put his ideas away until 1749, when he printed his own pamphlet, Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pensilvania. He was appointed president of the Academy on November 13, 1749; the Academy and the Charity School opened on August 13, 1751.

In 1743, Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society to help scientific men discuss their discoveries and theories. He began the electrical research that, along with other scientific inquiries, would occupy him for the rest of his life, in between bouts of politics and moneymaking.

In 1747, Franklin (already a very wealthy man) retired from printing and went into other businesses. He created a partnership with his foreman, David Hall, which provided Franklin with half of the shop’s profits for 18 years. This lucrative business arrangement provided leisure time for study, and in a few years he had made discoveries that gave him a reputation with educated persons throughout Europe and especially in France.

Franklin became involved in Philadelphia politics and rapidly progressed. In October 1748, he was selected as a councilman, in June 1749 he became a Justice of the Peace for Philadelphia, and in 1751 he was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly. On August 10, 1753, Franklin was appointed deputy postmaster-general of British North America, (see below). His most notable service in domestic politics was his reform of the postal system, with mail sent out every week.

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Pennsylvania Hospital by William Strickland, 1755

In 1751, Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania legislature to establish a hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital was the first hospital in what was to become the United States of America.

In 1752, Franklin organized the Philadelphia Contributionship, the first homeowner’s insurance company in what would become the United States.

Between 1750 and 1753, the “educational triumvirate” of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, the American Dr. Samuel Johnson of Stratford, Connecticut, and the immigrant Scottish schoolteacher Dr. William Smith built on Franklin’s initial scheme and created what Bishop James Madison, president of the College of William & Mary, called a “new-model” plan or style of American college. Franklin solicited, printed in 1752, and promoted an American textbook of moral philosophy from the American Dr. Samuel Johnson titled Elementa Philosophica to be taught in the new colleges to replace courses in denominational divinity.

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Seal of the College of Philadelphia

In June 1753, Johnson, Franklin, and Smith met in Stratford. They decided the new-model college would focus on the professions, with classes taught in English instead of Latin, have subject matter experts as professors instead of one tutor leading a class for four years, and there would be no religious test for admission. Johnson went on to found King’s College (now Columbia University) in New York City in 1754, while Franklin hired Smith as Provost of the College of Philadelphia, which opened in 1755. At its first commencement, on May 17, 1757, seven men graduated; six with a Bachelor of Arts and one as Master of Arts. It was later merged with the University of the State of Pennsylvania to become the University of Pennsylvania. The College was to become influential in guiding the founding documents of the United States: in the Continental Congress, for example, over one third of the college-affiliated men who contributed the Declaration of Independence between September 4, 1774, and July 4, 1776, were affiliated with the College.

In 1753, both Harvard and Yale awarded him honorary degrees.

In 1754, he headed the Pennsylvania delegation to the Albany Congress. This meeting of several colonies had been requested by the Board of Trade in England to improve relations with the Indians and defense against the French. Franklin proposed a broad Plan of Union for the colonies. While the plan was not adopted, elements of it found their way into the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution.

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Sketch of the original Tun Tavern

In 1756, Franklin organized the Pennsylvania Militia (see “Associated Regiment of Philadelphia” under heading of Pennsylvania’s 103rd Artillery and 111th Infantry Regiment at Continental Army). He used Tun Tavern as a gathering place to recruit a regiment of soldiers to go into battle against the Native American uprisings that beset the American colonies. Reportedly Franklin was elected “Colonel” of the Associated Regiment but declined the honor.

Decades in London

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Franklin in London, 1767, wearing a blue suit with elaborate gold braid and buttons, a far cry from the simple dress he affected at the French court in later years. Painting by David Martin, displayed in the White House.

From the mid 1750s to the mid 1770s, Franklin spent much of his time in London. Officially he was there on a political mission, but he used his time to further his scientific explorations as well, meeting many notable people.

In 1757, he was sent to England by the Pennsylvania Assembly as a colonial agent to protest against the political influence of the Penn family, the proprietors of the colony. He remained there for five years, striving to end the proprietors’ prerogative to overturn legislation from the elected Assembly, and their exemption from paying taxes on their land. His lack of influential allies in Whitehall led to the failure of this mission.

At this time, many members of the Pennsylvania Assembly were feuding with William Penn’s heirs, who controlled the colony as proprietors. After his return to the colony, Franklin led the “anti-proprietary party” in the struggle against the Penn family, and was elected Speaker of the Pennsylvania House in May 1764. His call for a change from proprietary to royal government was a rare political miscalculation, however: Pennsylvanians worried that such a move would endanger their political and religious freedoms. Because of these fears, and because of political attacks on his character, Franklin lost his seat in the October 1764 Assembly elections. The anti-proprietary party dispatched Franklin to England again to continue the struggle against the Penn family proprietorship. During this trip, events drastically changed the nature of his mission.

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Pennsylvania colonial currency printed by Franklin in 1764

In London, Franklin opposed the 1765 Stamp Act. Unable to prevent its passage, he made another political miscalculation and recommended a friend to the post of stamp distributor for Pennsylvania. Pennsylvanians were outraged, believing that he had supported the measure all along, and threatened to destroy his home in Philadelphia. Franklin soon learned of the extent of colonial resistance to the Stamp Act, and he testified during the House of Commons proceedings that led to its repeal.

With this, Franklin suddenly emerged as the leading spokesman for American interests in England. He wrote popular essays on behalf of the colonies. Georgia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts also appointed him as their agent to the Crown.

Franklin lodged in a house in Craven Street, just off The Strand in central London. During his stays there, he developed a close friendship with his landlady, Margaret Stevenson, and her circle of friends and relations, in particular her daughter Mary, who was more often known as Polly. Their house, which he used on various lengthy missions from 1757 to 1775, is the only one of his residences to survive. It opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House museum in 2006.

Whilst in London, Franklin became involved in radical politics. He belonged to a gentleman’s club (which he called “the honest Whigs”), which held stated meetings, and included members such as Richard Price, the minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church who ignited the Revolution Controversy, and Andrew Kippis.

In 1756, Franklin had become a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce (now the Royal Society of Arts or RSA), which had been founded in 1754 and whose early meetings took place in Covent Garden coffee shops. After his return to the United States in 1775, Franklin became the Society’s Corresponding Member, continuing a close connection. The RSA instituted a Benjamin Franklin Medal in 1956 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his birth and the 200th anniversary of his membership of the RSA.

The study of natural philosophy (what we would call science) drew him into overlapping circles of acquaintance. Franklin was, for example, a corresponding member of the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which included such other scientific and industrial luminaries as Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin; on occasion he visited them.

In 1759, the University of St Andrews awarded Franklin an honorary doctorate in recognition of his accomplishments. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford University in 1762. Because of these honors, Franklin was often addressed as “Dr. Franklin.”

Franklin also managed to secure an appointed post for his illegitimate son, William Franklin, by then an attorney, as Colonial Governor of New Jersey.

While living in London in 1768, he developed a phonetic alphabet in A Scheme for a new Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling. This reformed alphabet discarded six letters Franklin regarded as redundant (c, j, q, w, x, and y), and substituted six new letters for sounds he felt lacked letters of their own. His new alphabet, however, never caught on, and he eventually lost interest.

Travels around Britain and Ireland

Franklin used London as a base to travel. In 1771, he made short journeys through different parts of England, staying with Joseph Priestley at Leeds, Thomas Percival at Manchester and Erasmus Darwin at Lichfield.

In Scotland, he spent five days with Lord Kames near Stirling and stayed for three weeks with David Hume in Edinburgh. In 1759, he visited Edinburgh with his son, and recalled his conversations there as “the densest happiness of my life”. In February 1759, the University of St Andrews awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree. From then he was known as “Doctor Franklin”. In October of the same year he was granted Freedom of the Borough of St Andrews.

He had never been to Ireland before, and met and stayed with Lord Hillsborough, who he believed was especially attentive. Franklin noted of him that “all the plausible behaviour I have described is meant only, by patting and stroking the horse, to make him more patient, while the reins are drawn tighter, and the spurs set deeper into his sides.” In Dublin, Franklin was invited to sit with the members of the Irish Parliament rather than in the gallery. He was the first American to receive this honor. While touring Ireland, he was moved by the level of poverty he saw. Ireland’s economy was affected by the same trade regulations and laws of Britain that governed America. Franklin feared that America could suffer the same effects should Britain’s “colonial exploitation” continue.

Visits to Europe

Franklin spent two months in German lands in 1766, but his connections to the country stretched across a lifetime. He declared a debt of gratitude to German scientist Otto von Guericke for his early studies of electricity. Franklin also co-authored the first treaty of friendship between Prussia and America in 1785.

In September 1767, Franklin visited Paris with his usual traveling partner, Sir John Pringle. News of his electrical discoveries was widespread in France. His reputation meant that he was introduced to many influential scientists and politicians, and also to King Louis XV.

Defending the American cause

One line of argument in Parliament was that Americans should pay a share of the costs of the French and Indian War, and that therefore taxes should be levied on them. Franklin became the American spokesman in highly publicized testimony in Parliament in 1766. He stated that Americans already contributed heavily to the defense of the Empire. He said local governments had raised, outfitted and paid 25,000 soldiers to fight France—as many as Britain itself sent—and spent many millions from American treasuries doing so in the French and Indian War alone.

In 1773, Franklin published two of his most celebrated pro-American satirical essays: “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One”, and “An Edict by the King of Prussia”.

Hutchinson letters leak

In June 1773 Franklin obtained private letters of Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver, governor and lieutenant governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, that proved they were encouraging the Crown to crack down on Bostonians. Franklin sent them to America, where they escalated the tensions. The letters were finally leaked to the public in the Boston Gazette in mid-June 1773, causing a political firestorm in Massachusetts and raising significant questions in England. The British began to regard him as the fomenter of serious trouble. Hopes for a peaceful solution ended as he was systematically ridiculed and humiliated by Solicitor-General Alexander Wedderburn, before the Privy Council on January 29, 1774. He returned to Philadelphia in March 1775, and abandoned his accommodationist stance.

Coming of revolution

In 1763, soon after Franklin returned to Pennsylvania from England for the first time, the western frontier was engulfed in a bitter war known as Pontiac’s Rebellion. The Paxton Boys, a group of settlers convinced that the Pennsylvania government was not doing enough to protect them from American Indian raids, murdered a group of peaceful Susquehannock Indians and marched on Philadelphia. Franklin helped to organize a local militia to defend the capital against the mob. He met with the Paxton leaders and persuaded them to disperse. Franklin wrote a scathing attack against the racial prejudice of the Paxton Boys. “If an Indian injures me”, he asked, “does it follow that I may revenge that Injury on all Indians?”

He provided an early response to British surveillance through his own network of counter-surveillance and manipulation. “He waged a public relations campaign, secured secret aid, played a role in privateering expeditions, and churned out effective and inflammatory propaganda.”

Declaration of Independence

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John Trumbull depicts the Committee of Five presenting their work to the Congress.

By the time Franklin arrived in Philadelphia on May 5, 1775, after his second mission to Great Britain, the American Revolution had begun—with fighting between colonials and British at Lexington and Concord. The New England militia had trapped the main British army in Boston. The Pennsylvania Assembly unanimously chose Franklin as their delegate to the Second Continental Congress. In June 1776, he was appointed a member of the Committee of Five that drafted the Declaration of Independence. Although he was temporarily disabled by gout and unable to attend most meetings of the Committee, Franklin made several “small but important” changes to the draft sent to him by Thomas Jefferson.

At the signing, he is quoted as having replied to a comment by Hancock that they must all hang together: “Yes, we must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

Postmaster

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Benjamin Franklin First US postage stamp Issue of 1847

Well known as a printer and publisher, Franklin was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia in 1737, holding the office until 1753, when he and publisher William Hunter were named deputy postmasters–general of British North America, the first to hold the office. (Joint appointments were standard at the time, for political reasons.) Franklin was responsible for the British colonies from Pennsylvania north and east, as far as the island of Newfoundland. A post office for local and outgoing mail had been established in Halifax, Nova Scotia, by local stationer Benjamin Leigh, on April 23, 1754, but service was irregular. Franklin opened the first post office to offer regular, monthly mail in what would later become Canada, at Halifax, on December 9, 1755. Meantime, Hunter became postal administrator in Williamsburg, Virginia and oversaw areas south of Annapolis, Maryland. Franklin reorganized the service’s accounting system, then improved speed of delivery between Philadelphia, New York and Boston. By 1761, efficiencies led to the first profits for the colonial post office.

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Benjamin Franklin on a Canada Post stamp of 2013, with colonial Quebec City in background

When the lands of New France were ceded to the British under the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the new British province of Quebec was created among them, and Franklin saw mail service expanded between Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec City, and New York. For the greater part of his appointment, Franklin lived in England (from 1757 to 1762, and again from 1764 to 1774)—about three-quarters of his term. Eventually, his sympathies for the rebel cause in the American Revolution led to his dismissal on January 31, 1774.

On July 26, 1775, the Second Continental Congress established the United States Post Office and named Benjamin Franklin as the first United States Postmaster General. Franklin had been a postmaster for decades and was a natural choice for the position. He had just returned from England and was appointed chairman of a Committee of Investigation to establish a postal system. The report of the Committee, providing for the appointment of a postmaster general for the 13 American colonies, was considered by the Continental Congress on July 25 and 26. On July 26, 1775, Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, the first appointed under the Continental Congress. It established a postal system that became the United States Post Office, a system that continues to operate today.

Ambassador to France: 1776–1785

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Franklin, in his fur hat, charmed the French with what they perceived as rustic New World genius.

In December 1776, Franklin was dispatched to France as commissioner for the United States. He took with him as secretary his 16-year-old grandson, William Temple Franklin. They lived in a home in the Parisian suburb of Passy, donated by Jacques-Donatien Le Ray de Chaumont, who supported the United States. Franklin remained in France until 1785. He conducted the affairs of his country toward the French nation with great success, which included securing a critical military alliance in 1778 and negotiating the Treaty of Paris (1783).

Among his associates in France was Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau—a French Revolutionary writer, orator and statesman who in early 1791 would be elected president of the National Assembly. In July 1784, Franklin met with Mirabeau and contributed anonymous materials that the Frenchman used in his first signed work: Considerations sur l’ordre de Cincinnatus. The publication was critical of the Society of the Cincinnati, established in the United States. Franklin and Mirabeau thought of it as a “noble order”, inconsistent with the egalitarian ideals of the new republic.

During his stay in France, Benjamin Franklin was active as a Freemason, serving as Venerable Master of the Lodge Les Neuf Sœurs from 1779 until 1781. He was the 106th member of the Lodge. In 1784, when Franz Mesmer began to publicize his theory of “animal magnetism” which was considered offensive by many, Louis XVI appointed a commission to investigate it. These included the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, the physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, the astronomer Jean Sylvain Bailly, and Benjamin Franklin. In 1781, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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While in France Franklin designed and commissioned Augustin Dupré to engrave the medallion “Libertas Americana” minted in Paris in 1783.

Franklin’s advocacy for religious tolerance in France contributed to arguments made by French philosophers and politicians that resulted in Louis XVI’s signing of the Edict of Versailles in November 1787. This edict effectively nullified the Edict of Fontainebleau, which had denied non-Catholics civil status and the right to openly practice their faith.

Franklin also served as American minister to Sweden, although he never visited that country. He negotiated a treaty that was signed in April 1783. On August 27, 1783, in Paris, Franklin witnessed the world’s first hydrogen balloon flight. Le Globe, created by professor Jacques Charles and Les Frères Robert, was watched by a vast crowd as it rose from the Champ de Mars (now the site of the Eiffel Tower). Franklin became so enthusiastic that he subscribed financially to the next project to build a manned hydrogen balloon. On December 1, 1783, Franklin was seated in the special enclosure for honoured guests when La Charlière took off from the Jardin des Tuileries, piloted by Jacques Charles and Nicolas-Louis Robert.

Constitutional Convention

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Franklin’s return to Philadelphia, 1785, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

When he returned home in 1785, Franklin occupied a position only second to that of George Washington as the champion of American independence. Le Ray honored him with a commissioned portrait painted by Joseph Duplessis, which now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. After his return, Franklin became an abolitionist and freed his two slaves. He eventually became president of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society.

In 1787, Franklin served as a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention. He held an honorary position and seldom engaged in debate. He is the only Founding Father who is a signatory of all four of the major documents of the founding of the United States: the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance with France, the Treaty of Paris and the United States Constitution.

In 1787, a group of prominent ministers in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, proposed the foundation of a new college named in Franklin’s honor. Franklin donated £200 towards the development of Franklin College (now called Franklin & Marshall College).

Between 1771 and 1788, he finished his autobiography. While it was at first addressed to his son, it was later completed for the benefit of mankind at the request of a friend.

Franklin strongly supported the right to freedom of speech:

In those wretched countries where a man cannot call his tongue his own, he can scarce call anything his own. Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech … Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom, and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech, which is the right of every man …

— Silence Dogood no. 8, 1722
President of Pennsylvania

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Franklin autograph check signed during his Presidency of Pennsylvania

Special balloting conducted October 18, 1785, unanimously elected Franklin the sixth president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, replacing John Dickinson. The office was practically that of governor. Franklin held that office for slightly over three years, longer than any other, and served the constitutional limit of three full terms. Shortly after his initial election he was reelected to a full term on October 29, 1785, and again in the fall of 1786 and on October 31, 1787. In that capacity he served as host to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.

Virtue, religion, and personal beliefs


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A bust of Franklin by Jean-Antoine Houdon

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Voltaire blessing Franklin’s grandson, in the name of God and Liberty, by Pedro Américo

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Benjamin Franklin by Hiram Powers

Like the other advocates of republicanism, Franklin emphasized that the new republic could survive only if the people were virtuous. All his life he explored the role of civic and personal virtue, as expressed in Poor Richard’s aphorisms. Franklin felt that organized religion was necessary to keep men good to their fellow men, but rarely attended religious services himself. When Franklin met Voltaire in Paris and asked his fellow member of the Enlightenment vanguard to bless his grandson, Voltaire said in English, “God and Liberty”, and added, “this is the only appropriate benediction for the grandson of Monsieur Franklin.”

Franklin’s parents were both pious Puritans. The family attended the Old South Church, the most liberal Puritan congregation in Boston, where Benjamin Franklin was baptized in 1706. Franklin’s father, a poor chandler, owned a copy of a book, Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good, by the Puritan preacher and family friend Cotton Mather, which Franklin often cited as a key influence on his life. Franklin’s first pen name, Silence Dogood, paid homage both to the book and to a widely known sermon by Mather. The book preached the importance of forming voluntary associations to benefit society. Franklin learned about forming do-good associations from Cotton Mather, but his organizational skills made him the most influential force in making voluntarism an enduring part of the American ethos.

Franklin formulated a presentation of his beliefs and published it in 1728. It did not mention many of the Puritan ideas as regards belief in salvation, the divinity of Jesus, and indeed most religious dogma. He clarified himself as a deist in his 1771 autobiography, although he still considered himself a Christian. He retained a strong faith in a God as the wellspring of morality and goodness in man, and as a Providential actor in history responsible for American independence.

It was Ben Franklin who, at a critical impasse during the Constitutional Convention in June 1787, attempted to introduce the practice of daily common prayer with these words:

… In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. … And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance. I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth—that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: … I therefore beg leave to move—that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.

However, the motion met with resistance and was never brought to a vote.

Franklin was an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical minister George Whitefield during the First Great Awakening. Franklin did not subscribe to Whitefield’s theology, but he admired Whitefield for exhorting people to worship God through good works. Franklin published all of Whitefield’s sermons and journals, thereby earning a lot of money and boosting the Great Awakening.

When he stopped attending church, Franklin wrote in his autobiography:

… Sunday being my studying day, I never was without some religious principles. I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that He made the world, and governed it by His providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue rewarded, either here or hereafter.

Franklin retained a lifelong commitment to the Puritan virtues and political values he had grown up with, and through his civic work and publishing, he succeeded in passing these values into the American culture permanently. He had a “passion for virtue”. These Puritan values included his devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity and community spirit.

The classical authors read in the Enlightenment period taught an abstract ideal of republican government based on hierarchical social orders of king, aristocracy and commoners. It was widely believed that English liberties relied on their balance of power, but also hierarchal deference to the privileged class. “Puritanism … and the epidemic evangelism of the mid-eighteenth century, had created challenges to the traditional notions of social stratification” by preaching that the Bible taught all men are equal, that the true value of a man lies in his moral behavior, not his class, and that all men can be saved. Franklin, steeped in Puritanism and an enthusiastic supporter of the evangelical movement, rejected the salvation dogma, but embraced the radical notion of egalitarian democracy.

Franklin’s commitment to teach these values was itself something he gained from his Puritan upbringing, with its stress on “inculcating virtue and character in themselves and their communities.” These Puritan values and the desire to pass them on, were one of Franklin’s quintessentially American characteristics, and helped shape the character of the nation. Franklin’s writings on virtue were derided by some European authors, such as Jackob Fugger in his critical work Portrait of American Culture. Max Weber considered Franklin’s ethical writings a culmination of the Protestant ethic, which ethic created the social conditions necessary for the birth of capitalism.

One of Franklin’s notable characteristics was his respect, tolerance and promotion of all churches. Referring to his experience in Philadelphia, he wrote in his autobiography, “new Places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary Contribution, my Mite for such purpose, whatever might be the Sect, was never refused.” “He helped create a new type of nation that would draw strength from its religious pluralism.” The evangelical revivalists who were active mid-century, such as Franklin’s friend and preacher, George Whitefield, were the greatest advocates of religious freedom, “claiming liberty of conscience to be an ‘inalienable right of every rational creature.'” Whitefield’s supporters in Philadelphia, including Franklin, erected “a large, new hall, that … could provide a pulpit to anyone of any belief.” Franklin’s rejection of dogma and doctrine and his stress on the God of ethics and morality and civic virtue made him the “prophet of tolerance.” Franklin composed “A Parable Against Persecution”, an apocryphal 51st chapter of Genesis in which God teaches Abraham the duty of tolerance. While he was living in London in 1774, he was present at the birth of British Unitarianism, attending the inaugural session of the Essex Street Chapel, at which Theophilus Lindsey drew together the first avowedly Unitarian congregation in England; this was somewhat politically risky, and pushed religious tolerance to new boundaries, as a denial of the doctrine of the Trinity was illegal until the 1813 Act.

Although Franklin’s parents had intended for him to have a career in the Church, Franklin as a young man adopted the Enlightenment religious belief in deism, that God’s truths can be found entirely through nature and reason. “I soon became a thorough Deist.” As a young man he rejected Christian dogma in a 1725 pamphlet A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, Pleasure and Pain, which he later saw as an embarrassment, while simultaneously asserting that God is “all wise, all good, all powerful.” He defended his rejection of religious dogma with these words: “I think opinions should be judged by their influences and effects; and if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded that he holds none that are dangerous, which I hope is the case with me.” After the disillusioning experience of seeing the decay in his own moral standards, and those of two friends in London whom he had converted to Deism, Franklin turned back to a belief in the importance of organized religion, on the pragmatic grounds that without God and organized churches, man will not be good. Moreover, because of his proposal that prayers be said in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, many have contended that in his later life Franklin became a pious Christian.

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Dr Richard Price, the radical minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, holding a letter from Franklin

According to David Morgan, Franklin was a proponent of religion in general. He prayed to “Powerful Goodness” and referred to God as “the infinite”. John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: “The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker.” Whatever else Franklin was, concludes Morgan, “he was a true champion of generic religion.” In a letter to Richard Price, Franklin stated that he believed that religion should support itself without help from the government, claiming, “When a Religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its Professors are oblig’d to call for the help of the Civil Power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

In 1790, just about a month before he died, Franklin wrote a letter to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University, who had asked him his views on religion:

As to Jesus of Nazareth, my Opinion of whom you particularly desire, I think the System of Morals and his Religion, as he left them to us, the best the world ever saw or is likely to see; but I apprehend it has received various corrupt changes, and I have, with most of the present Dissenters in England, some Doubts as to his divinity; tho’ it is a question I do not dogmatize upon, having never studied it, and I think it needless to busy myself with it now, when I expect soon an Opportunity of knowing the Truth with less Trouble. I see no harm, however, in its being believed, if that belief has the good consequence, as it probably has, of making his doctrines more respected and better observed; especially as I do not perceive that the Supreme takes it amiss, by distinguishing the unbelievers in his government of the world with any particular marks of his displeasure.

On July 4, 1776, Congress appointed a three-member committee composed of Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams to design the Great Seal of the United States. Franklin’s proposal (which was not adopted) featured the motto: “Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” and a scene from the Book of Exodus, with Moses, the Israelites, the pillar of fire, and George III depicted as pharaoh. The design that was produced was never acted upon by Congress, and the Great Seal’s design was not finalized until a third committee was appointed in 1782.

Thirteen Virtues

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Franklin bust in the Archives Department of Columbia University in New York City

Franklin sought to cultivate his character by a plan of 13 virtues, which he developed at age 20 (in 1726) and continued to practice in some form for the rest of his life. His autobiography lists his 13 virtues as:

  • “Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.”
    “Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.”
  • “Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.”
  • “Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
  • “Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.”
  • “Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.”
  • “Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.”
  • “Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.”
  • “Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.”
  • “Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.”
  • “Tranquility. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.”
  • “Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.”
  • “Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.”

Franklin did not try to work on them all at once. Instead, he would work on one and only one each week “leaving all others to their ordinary chance.” While Franklin did not live completely by his virtues, and by his own admission he fell short of them many times, he believed the attempt made him a better man contributing greatly to his success and happiness, which is why in his autobiography, he devoted more pages to this plan than to any other single point; in his autobiography Franklin wrote, “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.”

Slavery


When Franklin was young, African slavery was common and virtually unchallenged throughout the British colonies. During his lifetime slaves were numerous in Philadelphia. In 1750, half the persons in Philadelphia who had established probate estates owned slaves. Dock workers in the city consisted of 15% slaves. Franklin owned as many as seven slaves, two males who worked in his household and his shop. Franklin posted paid ads for the sale of slaves and for the capture of runaway slaves and allowed the sale of slaves in his general store. Franklin profited from both the international and domestic slave trade, even criticizing slaves who had run off to join the British Army during the colonial wars of the 1740s and 1750s. Franklin, however, later became a “cautious abolitionist” and became an outspoken critic of landed gentry slavery. In 1758, Franklin advocated the opening of a school for the education of black slaves in Philadelphia. After returning from England in 1762, Franklin became more anti-slavery. By 1770, Franklin had freed his slaves and attacked the system of slavery and the international slave trade. Franklin, however, refused to publicly debate the issue of slavery at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Franklin tended to take both sides of the issue of slavery, never fully divesting himself from the institution.

In his later years, as Congress was forced to deal with the issue of slavery, Franklin wrote several essays that stressed the importance of the abolition of slavery and of the integration of blacks into American society. These writings included:

  • An Address to the Public (1789)
  • A Plan for Improving the Condition of the Free Blacks (1789)
  • Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the Slave Trade (1790)

In 1790, Quakers from New York and Pennsylvania presented their petition for abolition to Congress. Their argument against slavery was backed by the Pennsylvania Abolitionist Society and its president, Benjamin Franklin.

Death


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The grave of Benjamin Franklin, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Franklin suffered from obesity throughout his middle-aged and later years, which resulted in multiple health problems, particularly gout, which worsened as he aged. In poor health during the signing of the US Constitution in 1787, he was rarely seen in public from then until his death.

Benjamin Franklin died from pleuritic attack at his home in Philadelphia on April 17, 1790, at age 84. His death is described in the book The Life of Benjamin Franklin, quoting from the account of Dr. John Jones:

… when the pain and difficulty of breathing entirely left him, and his family were flattering themselves with the hopes of his recovery, when an imposthume, which had formed itself in his lungs, suddenly burst, and discharged a quantity of matter, which he continued to throw up while he had power; but, as that failed, the organs of respiration became gradually oppressed; a calm, lethargic state succeeded; and on the 17th instant (April 1790), about eleven o’clock at night, he quietly expired, closing a long and useful life of eighty-four years and three months.

Approximately 20,000 people attended his funeral. He was interred in Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia. In 1728, aged 22, Franklin wrote what he hoped would be his own epitaph:

The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.

Franklin’s actual grave, however, as he specified in his final will, simply reads “Benjamin and Deborah Franklin”.

Legacy


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Franklin on the Series 2009 hundred dollar bill

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Marble memorial statue, Benjamin Franklin National Memorial

A signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, Franklin is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. His pervasive influence in the early history of the nation has led to his being jocularly called “the only President of the United States who was never President of the United States.” Franklin’s likeness is ubiquitous. Since 1928, it has adorned American $100 bills, which are sometimes referred to in slang as “Benjamins” or “Franklins.” From 1948 to 1963, Franklin’s portrait was on the half dollar. He has appeared on a $50 bill and on several varieties of the $100 bill from 1914 and 1918. Franklin appears on the $1,000 Series EE Savings bond. The city of Philadelphia contains around 5,000 likenesses [vague] of Benjamin Franklin, about half of which are located on the University of Pennsylvania campus. Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway (a major thoroughfare) and Benjamin Franklin Bridge (the first major bridge to connect Philadelphia with New Jersey) are named in his honor.

In 1976, as part of a bicentennial celebration, Congress dedicated a 20-foot (6 m) marble statue in Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute as the Benjamin Franklin National Memorial. Many of Franklin’s personal possessions are also on display at the Institute, one of the few national memorials located on private property.

In London, his house at 36 Craven Street, which is the only surviving former residence of Benjamin Franklin, was first marked with a blue plaque and has since been opened to the public as the Benjamin Franklin House. In 1998, workmen restoring the building dug up the remains of six children and four adults hidden below the home. The Times reported on February 11, 1998:

Initial estimates are that the bones are about 200 years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from 1757 to 1762 and from 1764 to 1775. Most of the bones show signs of having been dissected, sawn or cut. One skull has been drilled with several holes. Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: “I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest.”

The Friends of Benjamin Franklin House (the organization responsible for the restoration) note that the bones were likely placed there by William Hewson, who lived in the house for two years and who had built a small anatomy school at the back of the house. They note that while Franklin likely knew what Hewson was doing, he probably did not participate in any dissections because he was much more of a physicist than a medical man.

Bequest

Franklin bequeathed £1,000 (about $4,400 at the time, or about $112,000 in 2011 dollars) each to the cities of Boston and Philadelphia, in trust to gather interest for 200 years. The trust began in 1785 when the French mathematician Charles-Joseph Mathon de la Cour, who admired Franklin greatly, wrote a friendly parody of Franklin’s “Poor Richard’s Almanack” called “Fortunate Richard”. The main character leaves a smallish amount of money in his will, five lots of 100 livres, to collect interest over one, two, three, four or five full centuries, with the resulting astronomical sums to be spent on impossibly elaborate utopian projects. Franklin, who was 79 years old at the time, wrote thanking him for a great idea and telling him that he had decided to leave a bequest of 1,000 pounds each to his native Boston and his adopted Philadelphia. By 1990, more than $2,000,000 had accumulated in Franklin’s Philadelphia trust, which had loaned the money to local residents. From 1940 to 1990, the money was used mostly for mortgage loans. When the trust came due, Philadelphia decided to spend it on scholarships for local high school students. Franklin’s Boston trust fund accumulated almost $5,000,000 during that same time; at the end of its first 100 years a portion was allocated to help establish a trade school that became the Franklin Institute of Boston, and the whole fund was later dedicated to supporting this institute.

Franklin on U.S. postage

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Issue of 1861

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Issue of 1895

Benjamin Franklin is a prominent figure in American history comparable to Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, and as such he has been honored on U.S. postage stamps many times. The image of Franklin, the first Postmaster General of the United States, occurs on the face of U.S. postage more than any other notable American save that of George Washington.

Franklin appeared on the first U.S. postage stamp (displayed above) issued in 1847. From 1908 through 1923 the U.S. Post Office issued a series of postage stamps commonly referred to as the Washington-Franklin Issues where, along with George Washington, Franklin was depicted many times over a 14-year period, the longest run of any one series in U.S. postal history. Along with the regular issue stamps Franklin however only appears on a few commemorative stamps. Some of the finest portrayals of Franklin on record can be found on the engravings inscribed on the face of U.S. postage.

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Issue of 1918

Bawdy Ben

“Advice to a Friend on Choosing a Mistress” is a letter written by Benjamin Franklin, dated June 25, 1745, in which Franklin gives advice to a young man about channeling sexual urges. Due to its licentious nature, the letter was not published in collections of Franklin’s papers during the nineteenth century. Federal court decisions from the mid-to-late twentieth century cited the document as a reason for overturning obscenity laws, using it to make a case against censorship.

Exhibitions

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Life-size bronze statue of Benjamin Franklin (seated) in the National Constitution Center, Philadelphia

“The Princess and the Patriot: Ekaterina Dashkova, Benjamin Franklin and the Age of Enlightenment” exhibition opened in Philadelphia in February 2006 and ran through December 2006. Benjamin Franklin and Dashkova met only once, in Paris in 1781. Franklin was 75, and Dashkova was 37. Franklin invited Dashkova to become the first woman to join the American Philosophical Society; she was the only woman so honored for another 80 years. Later, Dashkova reciprocated by making him the first American member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Places and things named after Benjamin Franklin

As a founding father of the United States, Franklin’s name has been attached to many things. Among these are:

  • The State of Franklin, a short-lived independent state formed during the
  • American Revolutionary War
  • Counties in at least 16 U.S. states
  • Several major landmarks in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Franklin’s longtime home, including:
    • Franklin and Marshall College in nearby Lancaster
    • Franklin Field, a football field once home to the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League and the home field of the University of Pennsylvania Quakers since 1895
    • The Benjamin Franklin Bridge across the Delaware River between Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey
  • Several US Navy ships have been named the USS Franklin or the USS Bonhomme Richard, the latter being a French translation of his penname “Poor Richard”. Two aircraft carriers, USS Franklin (CV-13) and USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31), were simultaneously in commission and in operation during World War II, and Franklin therefore had the distinction of having two simultaneously operational US Navy warships named in his honor. The French ship Franklin (1797) was also named in Franklin’s honor.
  • CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin, a Chinese-built French owned Explorer-class container ship