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Lave been sold in one year; which must be consi lord as a very large number, especially when we re. fect, that this country was, at that tiine, but thinly peopled. It cannot be doubted that the salutary maxims contained in these almanacs must have made a favourable impression upon many of the rea. ders of them.
It was not long before Franklin entered upon his political career. In the year 1736, he was appointed clerk to the general assenıbly of Pennsylvania; and was re-elected by succeeding assemblies for several years, until he was chosen a representative for the Gity of Philadelphia.
Bradford was possessed of some advantages over Franklin, by being post: master, thereby having an opportunity of circulating nis paper inore extensively, and thus rendering it a belier vehicle for advertise. ments, &c. Franklin, in his turn, enjoyed these advantajes, by being appointed post-master of Philadel. phia, in 1737. Bradford, while in office, bad acted ungenerously toward Frarklin, preventing, as much as possible, the ci :ulation of his paper. He had now an opportunity of retaliating; but his nobleness of soul prevented him from making use of it.
The police of Philadelphia had early appointed watchmen, whose duty it was to guard the citizens against the midnight robber, and to give an jinmediate alarm in case of Ere. This duty is, perhaps, one of the most important that can be committed to any set of men. The regulations, however, were not suitciently strict. Franklin saw the dangers arising from this cause, and suggested an alteration, so as to oblige the guardians of the night to be more watchful over the lives and property of the citizens. The propriety of this was immediately perceived, and a reform was effected.
There is nothing more dangerous to growing cities than fires. Other causes operate slowly, and almost imperceptibly; but these, in a moment, render abortive the labuurs of ayes. On this account there should be, in all cities, ample provisions to prevent fires from spreading. Franklin early saw the necessity of these ; and, about the year 1738, fomied the first fire como pany in this city. This example was soon followed by others; and there are now numerous fire companies in the city and liberties. To these may be attributed, in a great degree, the activity in extinguishing fircs, for which the citizens of Philadelphia are distinguished, and the inconsiderable damage which this city has suscained from this cause. Son.e time after, Franklin suggested the plan of an association for in. suriug houses from losses by fire, which was adopted, and the association contivues to this day. The ad vantages experienced froin it have been great.
From the first establishment of Pennsylvania, a spirit of dispute appears to have prevailed amongst its inhabirants. During the life-time of Williain Penn, the constitution had been three times altered. After this period, the history of Pennsylvania is little else han a recital of the quarrels beiween the proprieta. jes, or their governors, and the Assembly. The pro prietaries contended for the right of exempting their lauds from taxes; to which the Assembly would by no means consent. This subject of dispuie interfered in almost every question, and preventell the most sa. luta, y laws from being enacted. This, at times, sub. Sected the people to great inconveniences. In the yoar 1744, during a war betweer. France and Great Britain, some French and Indians had made inroads upon the frontier inhabitants of the province, who were unprovided for such an attack. It becaine necessary that the citizens should arm for their defence Governor Thomas recomended to the Assembly, who were then sitting, to pass a militia law. To this they would agres, only upon condition that lie should give his assent to certain laws, wbich appeared to thein calculateul to promote the interests of the peo. vle. As he thought these laws would be injurious te the proprietaries, he refused his assent to them; and The Assembly broke up without passing a militia law. The situation of the province was, at this time, truly alarming; exposed to the continual inroad of an ene my, destitute of every means of defence. At this srisis, Franklin stepped forth, and proposed to a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, a plan of a voluntary association for the defence of the provinca
This was approved of, and signed by twelve hundred persons immediately. Copies were instantly circu. lated throughout the province; and, in a short time, the number of signers amounted to ten thousand. Franklin was chosen colonel of the Philadelphia regiinent; but he did not think proper to accept of the honour.
Pursuits of a different nature now occupied the greatest part of his attention for some years. He engaged in a course of electrical experiments, with al The ardour and thirst for discovery which character ized the philosophers of that day. Of all the branches of experimental philosophy, electricity had been least explored. The attraciive power of aniber is mcn. tioned by Theop::rastus and Plity, and from them, by later naturalists. In the year 1600, Gilhert, an Eng. lish physician, enlarged, considerably, the catalogue of substances which have the property of attracting light bodies. Boyle, Otto Guericke, a burgomaster of Magdeburg, celebrated as the inventor of the airpump, Dr. Wall, and Sir Isaac Newton, added some facts. Guericke first observed the repulsive power of electricity, and the light and noise produced by it. In 1709, Hawkesbec communicated some important observacions and experin:ents to the world. For se. veral years, electricity was entirely neglected, until Mr. Grey applied himself to it, in 1728, with great as. siduity. He and his friend, Mr. Wlieeier, made a great variety of experiments; in which liey demonstrated. that electricity may be communicated from one body to another, even without being in contacı, and in this way may be conducted to a great distance. Mr. Grey
sterivards found, that, by suspending rods of iron oj elk or hair lines, and bringing an excited tube undo tiem, sparks might be drawn, and a light perceived at the extreinities in the dark. M. Du Faje, inten elant of the French king's gardens, made a number of experiments, which added not a little to the science He made the discovery of two kinds of electricity, which he called vitrcons and resinous; the formes produced by rubbing glass, the latter from excited sulphur, sealing-wax, &c. But this idea he after wards gave up as erroneous, . Between the years 1739 and 1742, Desauguliers made a number of experis mients, but added little of importance. He first used the terms conductors and electrics per se. In 1742, several ingenious Germans engaged in this suhject; of these the principal were, professor Boze, of Wittemberg, professor Winkler, of Leipsic, Gordon, a Scotch Beverlictinc monk, professor of philosophy at Erfurt, and Dr. Ludolf, of Berlin. The result of their researches astonished the philosophers of Europe, Their apparatus was large, and by means of it they were enabled to collect large quantities of the electrio fuit, and thus to produce phenou:ena which has been hitherto unobserved. They killed smalt birds, and set spirits on fire. Their experiments excited the cu. riosiiy of other philosop'iers. Collinson, about the year 1745, sent to the Library Company of Philadel. phia, an account of these experiments, together with à tube, and directions how to use it. Franklin, with some of his friends, immediately engaged in a course of experinieris; the result of which is well known.. He was enabled to make a number of iniportant discoveries, and to propose theories to account for various phenomena, which have been universally: adopted, and which bid fair to endure for ages. His observations he communicated, in a series of letters, to his friend Coliinson); the first of which is dated March 28, 1747. In these he shows the power of points in drawing and throwing off the electrical matter, which had hitherto escaped the notice of electricians. He also made the grand discovery of a plus and minus, or of a positive and negative state of électricity. We give him the honour of this, without hesitation; although the English have claimed it for their countryman, Dr. Watson. Watson's paper is dated January 21, 1748 ; Franklin's, July 11, 1747 ; several monihs prior. Shortly after, Franklin, from his principles of ihe plus and minus state, explained, in a satisfactory manner, the phenomena of the Ley. den pnial, firei observed by Mr. Cuneus, or by professor Muscheubroeck, of Legden, which had much perplexed philosophers. He showed clearly, that tho botile, when charged, contained no more electricity than before, but that as much was taken from ono side us was thrown on the other; and that, to die charge it, nothing was necessary but to prounce a conimunication between the two sides by which the equilibrium might be restored, and that then no signs of electricity would remain. He afterwards dernonstrated, by experiments, that the electricity did not reside in the coating, as had been supposed, but in the pores of the glass itself. After a phíal was charged, he removed the coating, and found that upon applying a new coating, the shock might still be received. In the year 1749, he first suggested his idea of explaining the phenomena of thundergusts, and of the auroraborealis, upon electrical principles. He points out many particulars in which lightning and electricity agree ; and he adduses many facts, and reasonings froin facts, in support of his positions. In the same year he conceived the astonishingly bold and grand idea of ascertaining the truth of his doctrine, by actually drawing down the lightning, by means of sharp pointed iron rods raised into the region of the clouds. Even in this uncertain state, his passion to be useful to mankind displays itself in a powerful manner. Alle mitting the identity of electricity and lightning, and knowing the power of points in rejielling bodies charged with electricity, and in conducting their fires silently and imperceptibly, ha suggested the idea of secaring houses, ships, &c. from being damaged by lightning, by erecting pointed rods, that should rise some feet above the niost elevated part, and descend some feet into tho grourd or the water. The effect of these, he concluded, would be either to prevent a stroke, by repelling the cloud beyond the striking distance, or by drawing off the electrical fire which it contained; or, if they could not effect this, they would at leasi con duct the electric matter to the carth, without any in jury to the building.
It was not until the summer of 1752, that he was enabled to coinplete his grand and unparalleled discovery by experiment. The plan which he had originally proposed, was to erect on some high tower, or other elevated place, a sentry.box, from which should rise a pointed iron cod, insulated by being fixed in a cake of resin. Electrified clouds passing over this