Benjamin Franklin Representative selections, with introduction, bibliograpy, and notes

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 54

Before attempting to appraise the real indebtedness
of Franklin to the physiocrats, it is well to seek to learn how he came
in contact with their ideas, and especially why by the year 1767 he was
acutely susceptible to their doctrine. In the summer of 1767, in the
company of Sir John Pringle, Franklin went to Paris, not an unknown
figure to the French savants, who were acquainted with his scientific
papers already translated into French by D'Alibard. That he was feted by
the Newtons of the physiocrats, Francois Quesnay and the elder Mirabeau,
as "le Savant, le Geometre, le Physicien, l'homme a qui la nature permet
de devoiler ses secrets,"[i-225] we are assured, when to De Nemours
(July 28, 1768) he writes regretfully: "Be so good as to present my
sincere respect to that venerable apostle, Dr. Quesnay, and to the
illustrious Ami des Hommes (of whose civilities to me at Paris I retain
a grateful remembrance)...."[i-226] Having missed Franklin in Paris
(1767), De Nemours had sent Franklin "un recueil des principaux traites
economiques du Docteur Quesnay" and his own _Physiocratie_ (1768), which
cast him in the role "of a propagandist of Physiocratie
doctrines."[i-227] Franklin admitted, "I am perfectly charmed with them,
and wish I could have stayed in France for some time, to have studied
in your school, that I might by conversing with its founders have made
myself quite a master of that philosophy."[i-228] That Franklin was not
before 1767 unacquainted with the Economistes we learn when he tells
Dupont de Nemours that Dr. Templeman had shown him the De
Nemours-Templeman correspondence when the latter was Secretary of the
London Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and
Commerce. A second trip to Paris (in 1769) to confer with Barbeu
Dubourg, an avowed physiocrat, concerning his forthcoming translation of
Franklin's works, served to acquaint him still further with the
doctrines of the new school.

Franklin's agrarianism[i-229] is congruent with physiocracy[i-230] in as
far as he observed that agriculture alone, of the many industries,
produced a surplus of wealth after all of the expenses of production had
been paid.[i-231] Each laborer produced more than enough to satisfy his
own needs. This surplus the Economistes termed the _produit net_. A
worker in manufactures, it was assumed, consumed foodstuffs and other
materials in proportion to the value he created in his manufacturing
process. Hence there obviously could be no _produit net_ accruing from
manufactures. Like the physiocrats, Franklin felt that manufactures were
_sterile_, to the extent that no new wealth was created. The physiocrats
believed, however, that laborers in manufacturing industries _could_
create a _produit net_ if they stinted themselves

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Text Comparison with Experiments and Observations on Electricity Made at Philadelphia in America

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The impossibility of electrising one's self (tho' standing on wax) by rubbing the tube and drawing the fire from it; and the manner of doing it by passing the tube near a person or thing standing on the floor, &c.
Page 9
And we daily in our experiments electrise bodies _plus_ or _minus_ as we think proper.
Page 18
it, did not seem in the least to retard its motion.
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For if an electrified cloud coming from the sea, meets in the air a cloud raised from the land, and therefore not electrified; the first will flash its fire into the latter, and thereby both clouds shall be made suddenly to deposite water.
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If they are different things, yet they may and do subsist together in the same body.
Page 30
From these three things, the extreme subtilty of the electrical matter, the mutual repulsion of its parts, and the strong attraction between them and other matter, arise this effect, that when a quantity of electrical matter, is applied to a mass of common matter, of any bigness or length within our observation (which has not already got its quantity) it is immediately and equally diffused through the whole.
Page 31
Apply the wire of a well-charged vial, held in your hand, to one of them (A) Fig.
Page 33
But there is a small portion between I, B, K, that has less of the surface to rest on, and to be attracted by, than the neighbouring portions, while at the same time there is a mutual repulsion between its particles and the particles of those portions, therefore here you can get it with more ease or at a greater distance.
Page 35
Attempt to draw off the electricity with a blunt body, as a bolt of iron round at the end and smooth (a silversmith's iron punch, inch-thick, is what I use) and you must bring it within the distance of three inches before you can do it, and then it is done with a stroke and crack.
Page 36
And lastly, if a needle fix'd on the punch with its point upright, or even on the floor below the punch, will draw the fire from the scale silently at a much greater than the striking distance, and so prevent its descending towards.
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The quantities of this fluid in each surface being equal, their repelling action on each other is equal; and therefore those of one surface cannot drive out those of the other: but, if a greater quantity is forced into one.
Page 45
As this charg'd part of the globe comes round to the cushion again, the outer surface delivers its overplus fire into the cushion, the opposite inner surface receiving at the same time an equal quantity from the.
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The ends of the two chains in the glass were near an inch distant from each other, the oil of turpentine between.
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In four Parts.
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[11] Gilt paper, with the gilt face next the glass, does well.