Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Draw the Lightning DownBenjamin Franklin and Electrical Technology in the Age of Enlightenment$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

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

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 02 July 2022

. Property Protectors

. Property Protectors

(p.184) 9. Property Protectors
Draw the Lightning Down

Michael Brian Schiffer

University of California Press

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

California Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.