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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: 01 August 2021

. Property Protectors

. Property Protectors

Chapter:
(p.184) 9. Property Protectors
Source:
Draw the Lightning Down
Author(s):

Michael Brian Schiffer

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520238022.003.0009

This chapter reports that property protectors designed, installed, and used Benjamin Franklin's invention, the lightning conductor, to safeguard structures. It also addresses the unique and intriguing electrical technologies that the engineers invented in the course of evaluating designs for lightning-protection systems. The lightning conductor attracted controversy, not electricity, its pros and cons debated heatedly in both theological and scientific circles. It eventually enjoyed significant adoptions in the late eighteenth century, but it failed to go into general use. Benjamin Wilson asserted in conclusion that the use of pointed rods was poor science which did not promote the welfare of society. But once again, he failed to persuade. It is suggested that the lightning conductor at home was another materialization of Enlightenment ideals and of participation in elite culture. The lightning conductors installed today differ only in trivial details from his earliest specifications.

Keywords:   property protectors, Benjamin Franklin, lightning conductor, Benjamin Wilson, Enlightenment, pointed rods

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