American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Reason

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Franklin on Electricity

Queries from Dr. Ingenhousz, with my Answers, B.F.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
"Queries from Dr. Ingenhousz,
with my Answers, B.F."

Holograph report with
annotations, n.d.
(ca. 1780)
Manuscript Division

Though now he is renowned as an experimentalist, Benjamin Franklin's formulation of a general theory of electrical "action" won him an international reputation in pure science in his own day. Writing to Dutch physician and scientist Jan Ingenhousz, Franklin responds to a number of his friend's questions about electricity and the Leyden jar, an early form of electrical condenser.

In a document that is more a draft scientific report than a letter, it appears that Franklin wrote his answers first using dark ink, leaving room (but clearly not enough) for the questions, which he wrote in red ink.

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