“Go Fly a Kite!”
Franklin Did

This article is about Benjamin Franklin and flying his kite with his son…in a lightning storm. Most Americans can rattle off a long list of Franklin’s accomplishments: the only American to sign the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), and the Constitution (1787). Additionally, he wrote Poor Richard’s Almanack. He also wrote these words of wisdom, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”

Nevertheless, today, June 10, 2019 is the 267th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin flying his kite in a thunderstorm along with his son in 1752. However, in the decade prior, he was deeply involved in experimenting with electricity. In his research of lightning, he invented the lightning rod, which protects buildings.

Franklin had written that he believed that during a thunderstorm that nature was “drawing lightning from the clouds.” He was not the first to test his theory. In fact, two Frenchmen had read about his theory about lightning and tested it. On May 10, 1752, they tested Franklin’s theory in Marly-la-Ville, France. The following year, a German tried Franklin’s theory and died due to electrocuting himself as a result of his experiment.

All these experiments were designed to prove that lightning and electricity that people made were actually the same thing. Franklin, exactly a month after the French scientists conducted his theory, ran his experiment to determine whether he was correct. This is the romantic painter, Benjamin West’s, view of Franklin’s experiment. However, Franklin never mentioned having the help of angels holding the string to the kite.

Benjamin West’s version of Franklin’s experiment

This painting is a far more likely representation of Franklin flying his kite than the previous one. Additionally, his son was represent.

This is painting was done by Currier and Ives.

On this 267th anniversary of Franklin flying his kite, we need to think outside the box in our lives. Each of us needs to question everything. If we don’t, this will be the result for all of us.

We need to get outside the box…to think.