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Draw the Lightning DownBenjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment$
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Michael Brian Schiffer

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238022

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238022.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 28 July 2021

. Power to the People

. Power to the People

(p.91) 5. Power to the People
Draw the Lightning Down

Michael Brian Schiffer

University of California Press

This chapter reports that the collectors and hobbyists acquired electrical technology for display and use at home. Electrical technology became a diversified consumer product and underwent significant design changes. Like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson was a passionate collector of books, and he bought thousands of them, which eventually brought him to the brink of bankruptcy. Collectors had profound influence on the design of scientific instruments, including electrical ones. The electric Oracle was just one of several amusements having occult overtones. Percy Bysshe Shelley's interest in electricity and in the purchase of electrical things was far from unique. The crafting of Frankenstein reflected Mary Shelley's familiarity with electrical technology, which stemmed mainly from conversations with her husband. Yet the idea that dead people, even body parts, could be reanimated by electricity was the product of neither's fertile imagination.

Keywords:   collectors, hobbyists, electrical technology, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Frankenstein, electricity

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