- The Columbian Exchange
- De Las Casas and the Conquistadors
- Early Visual Representations of the New World
- Failed European Colonies in the New World
- Successful European Colonies in the New World
- A Model of Christian Charity
- Benjamin Franklin’s Satire of Witch Hunting
- The American Revolution as Civil War
- Patrick Henry and “Give Me Liberty!”
- Lexington & Concord: Tipping Point of the Revolution
- Abigail Adams and “Remember the Ladies”
- Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” 1776
- Citizen Leadership in the Young Republic
- After Shays’ Rebellion
- James Madison Debates a Bill of Rights
- America, the Creeks, and Other Southeastern Tribes
- America and the Six Nations: Native Americans After the Revolution
- The Revolution of 1800
- Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase
- The Expansion of Democracy During the Jacksonian Era
- The Religious Roots of Abolition
- Individualism in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”
- Aylmer’s Motivation in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”
- Thoreau’s Critique of Democracy in “Civil Disobedience”
- Hester’s A: The Red Badge of Wisdom
- “What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?”
- The Cult of Domesticity
- The Family Life of the Enslaved
- A Pro-Slavery Argument, 1857
- The Underground Railroad
- The Enslaved and the Civil War
- Women, Temperance, and Domesticity
- “The Chinese Question from a Chinese Standpoint,” 1873
- “To Build a Fire”: An Environmentalist Interpretation
- Progressivism in the Factory
- Progressivism in the Home
- The “Aeroplane” as a Symbol of Modernism
- The “Phenomenon of Lindbergh”
- The Radio as New Technology: Blessing or Curse? A 1929 Debate
- The Marshall Plan Speech: Rhetoric and Diplomacy
- NSC 68: America’s Cold War Blueprint
- The Moral Vision of Atticus Finch
Benjamin Franklin’s Satire of Witch Hunting
Advisor: Robert A. Ferguson , George Edward Woodberry Professor of Law, Literature and Criticism, Columbia University Law School, National Humanities Center Fellow. Copyright National Humanities Center, 2014
- Text Analysis & Close Reading Questions
- Student Version PDF
How does Benjamin Franklin’s satire of a witch trial argue that human affairs should be guided, above all, by reason?
Many people in the eighteenth century, especially the educated elite in Europe and America, believed that truth was discovered through reason, through the application of principles discovered through science, observation, and experimentation. In “A Witch Trial at Mount Holly” Benjamin Franklin asserts the primacy of reason by satirizing the efforts of those who would seek truth through superstition and irrationality.
Benjamin Franklin, ca. 1746 Harvard Art Museums
Benjamin Franklin, “ A Witch Trial at Mount Holly ,” 1730, from Founders Online , from the National Archives. Suggested secondary sources from “Divining America: Religion in American History” from the National Humanities Center: Deism and the Founding of the United States by Darren Staloff and The First Great Awakening by Christine Heyrman.
Informational text: Literary non-fiction, satire.
Grades 11-CCR complexity band. For more information on text complexity see these resources from achievethecore.org . Click here for standards and skills for this lesson.
Common Core State Standards
- ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.6 (Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).)
- ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.9 (Demonstrate knowledge of eighteenth-, nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century foundational works of American literature.)
Advanced Placement English Language and Composition
- Reading nonfiction
- Analyzing satire and how an author’s rhetorical choices achieve a particular purpose
In addition to illustrating how satire works, this piece could be used to highlight cultural differences between the educated elite of the eighteenth century who were influenced by Enlightenment thought and the common folks who were not. The publication date of 1730 places the piece on the earliest fringe of the First Great Awakening , which had its initial manifestations around New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Thus the satire could be seen as foreshadowing the attitude many among the elite took toward the religious emotionalism, which they called “enthusiasm,” of those caught up in the Awakening’s fervor. Although Franklin later befriended the preacher George Whitefield, a major figure in the First Great Awakening, he remained suspicious of the revival’s enthusiasm throughout his life. In 1730, as a twenty-four-year-old, his firm embrace of the rationalistic philosophy of Deism could easily have moved him to take aim at the irrationality of enthusiasm as it might manifest itself in a witch hunt.
We provide the text in its entirety. Franklin wrote it as a single paragraph. We have numbered the sentences to make it easier to teach. For close reading we have analyzed the article through fine-grained, text-dependent questions. The first interactive activity asks students to do three things: identify words and phrases that make the piece a satire, explain why the language they chose is satirical, and compare their choices and rationales with ours. You may want to make these tasks, or at least the first two, a pencil-and-paper assignment. This exercise lends itself well to whole-class discussion with projection on a screen or smart board. The second interactive asks students to draw a conclusion from the piece. The student pdf also includes links to the interactive exercises.
This lesson is divided into two parts, both accessible below. The teacher’s guide includes a background note, the text analysis with responses to the close reading questions, access to the interactive exercises, and a follow-up assignment. The student’s version, an interactive worksheet that can be e-mailed, contains all of the above except the responses to the close reading questions, and the follow-up assignment.
- What kind of text are we dealing with?
- When was it written?
- Who wrote it?
- For what audience was it intended?
- For what purpose was it written?
The Pennsylvania Gazette was founded in Philadelphia in 1728. A year later Benjamin Franklin and a business partner bought it and in the following decades turned it into one of the most popular publications in the American colonies, printing reports from other papers as well as local news. In eighteenth-century America people hung on to newspapers, especially in inns, because paper was precious. They circulated widely, and with high literacy levels in Philadelphia, we can assume that the Gazette had a substantial general readership. Franklin frequently contributed articles, as he did for the October 22, 1730, edition when he published, anonymously, a satire datelined “Burlington, Oct. 12.”
Untitled when it appeared, a nineteenth-century editor dubbed it “A Witch Trial at Mount Holly.” The brief narrative describes the determined efforts of a mob in a small New Jersey town to find a man and a woman guilty of witchcraft after they had been accused of making sheep dance and hogs sing. In a normal proceeding only the accused would be tried, but in this one the accused cut a deal to put their accusers, also a man and a woman, on trial as well. The mob decides upon two tests. In the first the men and women will be weighed individually against a “huge great” Bible. If it outweighs them, they are witches; if they outweigh it, they are not. In the second test they will be cast into water. If they sink, they are innocent; if they float, they are guilty. The inclusion of the accused in the tests makes the proceedings less a trial and more an absurd experiment in which scales and water are used to detect virtue and vice. The tale is told by the sort of narrator who often appears in satire, an urbane, witty figure who coolly observes the action with an amused, tolerant attitude.
The article, presented as local news, is a literary hoax, similar to two others Franklin published in the Gazette . As far as scholars have been able to determine, he was neither reporting on nor responding to an actual event, certainly not a witch trial. No one has found records of one in New Jersey or Pennsylvania in or around 1730. Franklin may have written the piece to underscore themes in two other articles that appear in the October 22 issue. The lead story — datelined Paris, February 27 — describes the ridicule visited upon a Monsieur Languet, a bishop and a member of the esteemed French Academy, for a biography he wrote of a nun who died in 1690. The author of the article denounces Languet as a “Fanatick and a Visionary” for retailing stories of apparitions the nun claimed to have experienced. In language that echoes “A Witch Trial” the narrator notes that Languet’s book is surely “the Amusement and Diversion…of the thinking Part of the People of Paris.” The other article — datelined Oxford, July 30 — recounts the comic struggle that broke out over the body of a murderer named William Fuller after it was cut down from the gallows. As officials try to get the corpse out of town, they must fend off a mob and then a determined band of “gownsmen,” Oxford medical students, who want to carry Fuller off for dissection. The officials fail, and Fuller ends up serving science at Christ Church College. At one point the mob tosses Fuller’s coffin into water, and the gownsmen leap on it “like Spaniels,” much as a sailor in Mount Holly leaps on one of the men on trial as he floats in the local mill pond.
In addition to sharing language and motifs — repetition of the phrase “the thinking part,” mob behavior, and jumping on floating bodies — these stories share themes with “A Witch Trial.” The Paris story underscores the primacy of reason in its description of the ridicule the educated heap upon Monsieur Languet for his belief in apparitions. “A Witch Trial” also asserts the primacy of reason as the narrator mocks the people of Mount Holly for their belief in witches. Comic as it may be, the Oxford story recounts the triumph of science and empiricism, perspectives that drive the satire in “A Witch Trial.” It would not be surprising if these stories inspired Franklin to write his satire. He was twenty-four in 1730, and the piece reflects his youthful embrace of Deism , a form of religious belief, influential among the elite in eighteenth-century America, that placed faith in reason and rejected the supernatural.
Close reading questions.
1. What does Franklin do to establish the “authenticity” of his hoax? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer. Through the dateline “Burlington, Oct. 12” he tells his readers that the incident took place in a real place at a specific time. He then offers details that make the dateline even more specific and thus make the event more believable. It took place “Saturday last” in the town of Mount-Holly, which he is careful to locate “about 8 miles from this Place.” Moreover, he tells us about how many people were involved, “near 300.”
2. What are the connotations of the word “experiment”? (Note: The word “experiment” is a key term in the story and deserves extended attention.) It suggests science and unbiased, rational, carefully conducted inquiry that follows the rules of logic.
3. What do experiments usually seek to do? Experiments usually seek to test a hypothesis, an assumption or proposition that calls for some sort of test to see if it is accurate or valid.
4. What is the effect of the narrator’s use of the word “experiment”? The narrator ridicules the witch trials by calling them experiments. Clearly, they are not carefully reasoned, logical attempts to test a verifiable hypothesis. Rather, they are inappropriate and ineffectual attempts to determine a person’s guilt or innocence. By applying the term to the witch trials, the narrator ironically highlights the extent to which they diverge from rational processes of science and stray into superstition. The term bestows a comically inflated dignity and importance to this slapstick enterprise.
In addition, the term helps to define the narrator’s persona. It suggests that he is a man of the Enlightenment, familiar with the ways of science. Indeed, he seems more interested in how the trials are conducted than in their outcome. Note his careful description of each step. Note, too, that he never tells us how the mob judges any of the men subjected to the tests.
5. How would you describe the persona of the narrator or “reporter” of this story? The narrator/reporter is calm, casual, off-handed, bemused, and condescending.
6. How does Franklin create this persona? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer. Franklin creates the persona through the language the narrator uses. It suggests that he is not necessarily well informed or even terribly concerned about what is going on: the people have gathered to see “an Experiment or two ”; “ It seems ” that the accused are charged with witchcraft. He describes two remarkable accusations, but any others he dismisses with an off-handed “&c.” He highlights the comic nature of the charges by turning one of them into a joke. If sheep were made to dance in “an uncommon manner,” one is tempted to ask how they commonly dance.
7. What is the narrator’s point of view? How does Franklin establish it? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer. The narrator stands apart from the other spectators. While the townspeople are passionate in their demand for a trial and, it would seem, a guilty verdict, he calmly and wittily observes the scene and describes it without any of the bias that fires the crowd. He is deeply uninvolved . Franklin further establishes the narrator’s distance from the townspeople by having him ironically describe these rather simple provincial folks with comic exaggeration. They meet in “grand Consultation.” They are “the King’s good and peaceable Subjects.” Of course, there is nothing “peaceable” about them; they are a mob in pursuit of a verdict they have already reached.
8. What are the connotations of the word “plump”? How does Franklin use it in the story? It suggests weight, flesh, heaviness. Franklin uses it for comic effect. With it he undermines the seriousness of the scale trial. We can almost see and hear—the word is slightly onomatopoeic—the accused plummeting to the ground and bouncing upon arrival. Moreover, the word “plump” reminds readers that the subjects are flesh and blood, merely human, and not supernatural beings.
9. What does the term “Lumps of Mortality” refer to? How does Franklin use it? It refers to the bodies of the people tested in the scales. “Lumps” echoes “plump” and, like that word, suggests weight and heaviness. Linking it to “Mortality,” Franklin again reminds his readers that the accusers and the accused are mere mortals, not witches. Juxtaposing “Lumps of Mortality” with “Moses and all the Prophets and Apostles,” the narrator suggests the absurdity of attempting to learn something about the supernatural from a test that measures only the weight of flesh, blood, and bone.
10. What does Franklin mean when he says that the male accuser “with some Difficulty began to sink”? Why would he include this detail? He suggests that the man initially floats but sinks only when he tries to. This detail sets up the narrator’s ridicule of “the more Thinking Part of the Spectators,” for while they reach the correct conclusion about people with air in their lungs floating, they mistakenly conclude that a thin person’s physique would cause him or her to sink.
11. How does Franklin focus our attention on the word “naked”? What function does it play in the story? He makes us pause before it and heightens its comic effectiveness by setting it off with a comma. Functioning rather like the punch line of a joke, it completely demolishes any pretense to seriousness that the trials may have claimed and suggests their true purpose as entertainment for the masses.
12. How does Franklin characterize the trials? Cite evidence from the text to support your answer. Franklin portrays the trials as essentially comic, thoroughly unserious undertakings — note the deal by which the accusers are put on trial, the “plump” landing in the scale trials, the search for pins, the attempt to sink the floaters. He also characterizes them as an entertainment spectacle. They are advertised. The scales are set up on a gallows to enable the ladies of the town to view them without going into the crowd. To accommodate that crowd, town officials have cleared an open space “after the Manner of Moorfields.” When it becomes apparent that the trials will have to be repeated, officials insure a crowd by promising nudity at the next performance.
A Witch Trial at Mount Holly
BURLINGTON, Oct. 12.  Saturday last at Mount-Holly, about 8 Miles from this Place, near 300 People were gathered together to see an Experiment or two tried on some Persons accused of Witchcraft.
 It seems the Accused had been charged with making their Neighbours Sheep dance in an uncommon Manner, and with causing Hogs to speak, and sing Psalms, &c. to the great Terror and Amazement of the King’s good and peaceable Subjects in this Province; and the Accusers being very positive that if the Accused were weighed in Scales against a Bible, the Bible would prove too heavy for them; or that, if they were bound and put into the River, they would swim; the said Accused desirous to make their Innocence appear [desiring to prove their innocence], voluntarily offered to undergo the said Trials, if 2 of the most violent of their Accusers would be tried with them.
 Accordingly the Time and Place was agreed on, and advertised about the Country; The Accusers were 1 Man and 1 Woman; and the Accused the same.
 The Parties being met, and the People got together, a grand Consultation was held, before they proceeded to Trial; in which it was agreed to use the Scales first; and a Committee of Men were appointed to search the Men, and a Committee of Women to search the Women, to see if they had any Thing of Weight about them, particularly Pins.
 After the Scrutiny was over, a huge great Bible belonging to the Justice of the Place was provided, and a Lane through the Populace was made from the Justices House to the Scales, which were fixed on a Gallows erected for that Purpose opposite to the House, that the Justice’s Wife and the rest of the Ladies might see the Trial, without coming amongst the Mob; and after the Manner of Moorfields [in the eighteenth century, an open space in London often the site of markets and shows], a large Ring was also made.
 Then came out of the House a grave tall Man carrying the Holy Writ before the supposed Wizard, &c. (as solemnly as the Sword-bearer of London before the Lord Mayor) the Wizard was first put in the Scale, and over him was read a Chapter out of the Books of Moses, and then the Bible was put in the other Scale, (which being kept down before) was immediately let go; but to the great Surprize of the Spectators, Flesh and Bones came down plump, and outweighed that great good Book by abundance [a large amount].
 After the same Manner, the others were served, and their Lumps of Mortality severally [separately] were too heavy for Moses and all the Prophets and Apostles.
 This being over, the Accusers and the rest of the Mob, not satisfied with this Experiment, would have the Trial by Water; accordingly a most solemn Procession was made to the Mill-pond; where both Accused and Accusers being stripp’d (saving only to the Women their Shifts [undergarments]) were bound Hand and Foot, and severally placed in the Water, lengthways, from the Side of a Barge or Flat, having for Security only a Rope about the Middle of each, which was held by some in the Flat.
 The Accuser Man being thin and spare [bony], with some Difficulty began to sink at last; but the rest every one of them swam [floated] very light upon the Water.
 A Sailor in the Flat jump’d out upon the Back of the Man accused, thinking to drive him down to the Bottom, but the Person bound, without any Help, came up some time before the other.
 The Woman Accuser, being told that she did not sink, would be duck’d a second Time; when she swam again as light as before.
 Upon which she declared, That she believed the Accused had bewitched her to make her so light, and that she would be duck’d again a Hundred Times, but she would duck the Devil out of her.
 The accused Man, being surpriz’d at his own Swimming, was not so confident of his Innocence as before, but said, If I am a Witch, it is more than I know .
 The more thinking Part of the Spectators were of Opinion, that any Person so bound and plac’d in the Water (unless they were mere Skin and Bones) would swim till their Breath was gone, and their Lungs fill’d with Water.
 But it being the general Belief of the Populace, that the Womens Shifts, and the Garters with which they were bound help’d to support them; it is said they are to be tried again the next warm Weather, naked.
- Robert Feke, portrait of Benjamin Franklin, oil on canvas, ca. 1746. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Harvard University Portrait Collection, Bequest of Dr. John Collins Warren, 1856, H47. Photo: Imaging Department © President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reproduced by permission.
- The Pennsylvania Gazette , Oct. 15-22, 1730, p. 3 (detail). Digital image reproduced by permission of Accessible Archives, Inc.
National Humanities Center | 7 T.W. Alexander Drive, P.O. Box 12256 | Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709
Phone: (919) 549-0661 | Fax: (919) 990-8535 | nationalhumanitiescenter.org
Copyright 2010–2023 National Humanities Center. All rights reserved.
6 of Ben Franklin's Greatest Hoaxes and Pranks
By amanda green | apr 1, 2015.
As the story goes , the Continental Congress tasked Thomas Jefferson with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence… because they feared Ben Franklin would sneak in jokes. And with a history of pranks like these, who can blame them?
1. Silence Dogood
Ben Franklin knew all about faking it 'til you make it. At the age of 16, he apprenticed at his older brother's Boston print shop, publisher of The New-England Courant . Alas, James Franklin wasn't supportive of Ben's writing ambitions and rejected every piece he submitted. Desperate to get published—and to prove his brother wrong—the younger Franklin wrote a letter to the editor under the pseudonym Silence Dogood and slipped it under the shop's door at night. James Franklin found the middle-aged widow's social commentary humorous and, in 1722, printed 14 Dogood letters.
The letters really resonated with the community—a few eligible bachelors even mailed marriage proposals to the fictitious woman! When Ben came clean as the real Silence Dogood, James wasn't amused. But we all know who got the last laugh: Ben Franklin moved to Philadelphia and founded Poor Richard's Almanack 10 years later, while the Courant folded in 1726.
2. Titan Leeds's Death
The first edition of Poor Richard's Almanack , published in 1733, established an ongoing prank on Titan Leeds, an astrologer, competing almanac publisher, and frenemy of Ben Franklin. Under the pseudonym Poor Richard Saunders, Franklin predicted Leeds's death and encouraged readers to stick around to see if his prognostication was right. The feud that followed sold a lot of pamphlets, benefiting both publishers.
The next year, the Almanack printed an obituary for the still living Leeds and reported that the man claiming to be him was an identity thief. When Leeds actually died in 1738, Saunders commended the imposter for ending the prank once and for all. But Franklin doesn't get all the credit for this one. The hoax was inspired by Jonathan Swift, who used the pseudonym Isaac Bickerstaff to pull an enduring April Fool's Day joke on astrologer John Partridge in 1708.
3. The Speech of Miss Polly Baker
Franklin clearly enjoyed using pseudonyms, but one of his more progressive "pranks" was done completely anonymously. In 1747, he published " The Speech of Miss Polly Baker " in The General Advertiser . In it, a woman goes on trial for having an illegitimate child—a crime she's committed four other times—and wonders why the men involved were never punished. Franklin perfectly balanced humor, sex, and sympathy to both entertain readers and challenge the double standard. While many people believed Miss Baker’s was a true story, it was in fact only partially inspired by true events: Franklin himself had a son out of wedlock. Allegedly, the founding father didn't come clean as the story's author until 1777, at which time he was ambassador to France.
4. Faking the Boston Independent Chronicle
Long before The Onion , in 1782, Ben Franklin published a fake supplement to the Boston Independent Chronicle . It wasn't all in good fun—he hoped to arouse the sympathies of British citizens for the Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War in time for peace negotiations. To do so, he needed content that would get reprinted in British newspapers, and, well, sensationalism sells. The most affecting bogus story was a grisly letter detailing how the British employed Native Americans to scalp colonists. When Franklin sent the letter to correspondents, he admitted the supplement's questionable veracity, but maintained that the scalping issue was very real and warranted reporting. No one knew it was a hoax until more than 70 years later!
5. Daylight Saving Time
Satire is rooted in truth. In the essay "An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light," published in the Journal de Paris in April 1784, Ben Franklin suggested that the French could conserve 64 million pounds of candle wax if they woke up with the sun in springtime. He hilariously proposed firing cannons and ringing church bells as a sort of unavoidable alarm clock. It was a preposterous idea… until it became a reality (minus the cannons).
Today, the joke's on us. A New Zealand entomologist named George Vernon Hudson proposed the daylight savings time we temporarily loathe today in 1895. European countries adopted it in 1916, and the U.S. followed suit two years later.
Franklin's last hurrah, just 25 days before his death in 1790, was to challenge slavery. In a letter to The Federal Gazette written under the name Historicus, Franklin related the fictional tale of Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, an Algerian potentate who fought for the enslavement of Christians by Muslims in the late 1680s. The tyrant's inhumane pro-slavery arguments just so happened to echo those made by anti-abolitionist Congressman James Jackson of Georgia. Touché ! Franklin didn't live to see slavery abolished, but we'd be kidding ourselves if we said he had nothing to do with it.
This piece originally ran in 2015.
- Israel-Hamas war
- 2024 election
- Supreme Court
- Animal welfare
- Climate change
- What to watch
- All explainers
- Future Perfect
In 1781, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay about farting
Share this story.
- Share this on Facebook
- Share this on Twitter
- Share this on Reddit
- Share All sharing options
Share All sharing options for: In 1781, Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay about farting
In 1781, Benjamin Franklin decided to write about a truly important scientific topic: flatulence.
"It is universally well known, that in digesting our common food, there is created or produced in the bowels of human creatures, a great quantity of wind," Franklin wrote in an essay variously known as "To the Royal Academy of Farting" or simply " Fart Proudly ." "That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it."
Franklin's reason for taking up the topic of farting? To urge the Royal Academy of Brussels, which had put out a call for scientific papers, to take up the goal of discovering "some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes."
franklin wanted scientists to figure out how to make farts smell good
In other words, statesman, author, scientist, and inventor Benjamin Franklin wanted scientists to focus on creating a medicine that would make farts smell good.
Of course, the whole essay ( which you can read here ) was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Franklin — who was living in Paris at the time — was frustrated by the impracticality of most questions taken up by the scientific establishment, so he wrote this essay in response, but didn't actually send it to the Royal Academy. Instead, he sent copies to a few friends, including British chemist Joseph Priestley and philosopher Richard Price .
Franklin's dream is still unrealized: we don't have a medicine that makes farts smell good, though we do have drugs (like Beano) that cut down on gas production . Research has also found that foods which contain hydrogen sulfide — like beans, onions, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and dairy — disproportionately contribute to farts smelling bad.
In the essay, after making a few shrewd body-odor-related observations (namely, that asparagus makes urine smell bad , and turpentine makes it smell good ), Franklin asserted that the value of a medicine that makes farts smell good would trump many of science's biggest achievements. "What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels!" he exclaimed.
Finally, he concluded with a few puns — declaring that when it comes to practicality, the discoveries of Aristotle, Newton, Descartes, and others are "scarcely worth a FART-HING."
For more on farting: 9 surprising facts about flatulence you may not know
Will you help keep Vox free for all?
At Vox, we believe that clarity is power, and that power shouldn’t only be available to those who can afford to pay. That’s why we keep our work free. Millions rely on Vox’s clear, high-quality journalism to understand the forces shaping today’s world. Support our mission and help keep Vox free for all by making a financial contribution to Vox today.
We accept credit card, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. You can also contribute via
Next Up In Life
Sign up for the newsletter today, explained.
Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.
Thanks for signing up!
Check your inbox for a welcome email.
Oops. Something went wrong. Please enter a valid email and try again.
Why Lyft and Uber drivers did their largest strike ever
The CDC is finally going to loosen Covid isolation guidelines. Here’s why that’s a good thing.
Indonesia may have just elected a strongman
The evolution of the movie backdrop
Republicans’ baseless Mayorkas impeachment sets a disturbing precedent
Sell lab-grown meat in Tennessee, pay a $1 million fine
To revisit this article, select My Account, then View saved stories
Find anything you save across the site in your account
By Jill Lepore
Benjamin Franklin’s genius gave him no rest. A discontented man finds no easy chair. On April 4, 1757, he left Philadelphia by carriage, and reached New York just four days later, ready to sail for London. But one delay piled upon another, like so much ragged paper jamming a printing press, and he found himself stuck for more than two months. In all his fifty-one years, he could barely remember having “spent Time so uselessly.” (From childhood, Franklin, the son of a chandler, had toiled from dawn to dusk only to squander the tallow “reading the greatest Part of the Night.”) Waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough . He had some business to attend to—he wrote a new will, and more letters than other men write in a lifetime—but it was scarcely enough. “This tedious State of Uncertainty and long Waiting, has almost worn out my Patience,” he wrote to his wife, asking her to send along a pair of spectacles he had left behind. What signifies your Patience, if you can’t find it when you want it. He didn’t board until June 5th, and then the confounded ship lay anchored at Sandy Hook for two weeks. In his cabin, maybe even before the ship finally sailed on June 20th, he at last found something to do: he set about stringing together proverbs taken from twenty-five years of his “Poor Richard’s Almanack.”
Franklin finished his little essay at sea, on July 7, 1757. When he reached England, he sent it back on the first westbound vessel. It was published as the Preface to “Poor Richard Improved, 1758,” although it was soon reprinted, in at least a hundred and forty-five editions and six languages even before the eighteenth century was over, usually with the title “The Way to Wealth.” “It long ago passed from literature into the general human speech,” Carl Van Doren wrote in 1938, in an extraordinarily elegant biography of Franklin. This year marks the two-hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of “The Way to Wealth,” among the most famous pieces of American writing ever, and one of the most willfully misunderstood. A lay sermon about how industry begets riches ( No Gains, without Pains ), “The Way to Wealth” has been taken for Benjamin Franklin’s—and even America’s—creed, and there’s a line or two of truth in that, but not a whole page. “The Way to Wealth” is also a parody, stitched and bound between the covers of a sham.
In 1767, when Franklin was sixty-one, long since famous the world over for his experiments with electricity but years before he signed the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the Constitution, his sister asked him for a copy of “all the Political pieces” he had ever written. “I could as easily make a Collection for you of all the past Parings of my Nails,” he answered. Today, more than a half century after the editors of “The Papers of Benjamin Franklin” started collecting those parings—not just Franklin’s published writings but his thousands of letters, ledgers, notebooks, and unpublished essays—they’re still not finished, and not for lack of trying. (Thirty-eight of a projected forty-seven volumes of Franklin’s Papers have been published.) If you wou’d not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. Very few people have written more than Benjamin Franklin, and you would be hard pressed to think of anyone who has done more. And yet he remains as woefully misunderstood as his “Way to Wealth.” Let all Men know thee, but no man know thee thoroughly .
Franklin, who had a rule for everything, had a rule for writing: “ No Piece can properly be called good, and well written, which is void of any Tendency to benefit the Reader, either by improving his Virtue or his Knowledge .” But he roped himself to this and so many other masts only because he found himself so cast about by “the Force of perpetual Temptations.” He is a Governor that governs his Passions, and he a Servant that serves them. He carried with him a little book in which he kept track, day by day, of whether he had lived according to thirteen virtues, including Silence, which he hoped to cultivate “to break a Habit I was getting into of Prattling, Punning and Joking.” What made Franklin great was how nobly he strived for perfection; what makes him almost impossibly interesting is how far short he fell of it.
The vast bulk of Franklin’s writing, and especially of his political pieces, is sober, stirring, and grave, as the occasion, and the times, all too often demanded. But he was also a sucker for a good joke, or, really, even a lousy one. He loved hoaxes and counterfeits and had the sort of fondness for puns that, if he hadn’t been so charming, would have been called a weakness. As it was, his enemies damned his “trivial mirth.” John Adams, who resented him, conceded, “He had wit at will,” and “talents for irony, allegory, and fable,” but characterized his humor as “infantine simplicity.” Franklin’s best satires are relentlessly scathing social and political commentary attacking tyranny, injustice, ignorance, and, at the end of his life, slavery. Yet reading his letters you get the sense that he couldn’t always govern his wit, as when, striving to collect himself, he began a new paragraph, “But to be serious.”
When Franklin was sixteen, and in the fourth year of a miserable apprenticeship to his brother James, a Boston printer, because their father had no money to send any of the six surviving Franklin sons to college (there were also seven daughters), he pulled off his first notable stunt. Disguising his handwriting, he wrote an essay under the pen name Silence Dogood, and slipped it under the printing-house door. James, who, like many masters, beat his apprentice, had no idea that his pest of a little brother was the author, and printed not only that first essay but thirteen more, in his newspaper. As the sharp-tongued Widow Dogood, the well-drubbed Ben offered “a few gentle Reproofs on those who deserve them,” including Harvard students, whose blindness to their good fortune left the poor apprentice all but speechless. Young Franklin then did his caustic widow one better. He invented for her a priggish critic, Ephraim Censorious, who beseeched Mrs. Dogood to save her scolding for the fair sex, since “Women are prime Causes of a great many Male Enormities.” Ahem.
Franklin wrote heaps of this kind of stuff. He got older, and a little less sophomoric— At 20 years of age the Will reigns; at 30 the Wit; at 40 the Judgment —but he never lost his appetite for satire and imposture. In 1732, when he was an aspiring twenty-six-year-old printer in Philadelphia, having run away from his apprenticeship, fathered an illegitimate child, and married, he gave birth to the fictional Richard Saunders, a kindhearted but hapless astrologer with empty pockets. In the preface to the first “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” Saunders addressed his “Courteous Reader”: “I might in this place attempt to gain thy Favour, by declaring that I write Almanacks with no other View than that of the publick Good; but in this I should not be sincere; and Men are now a-days too wise to be deceiv’d by Pretences how specious soever. The plain Truth of the Matter is, I am excessive poor, and my Wife, good Woman, is, I tell her, excessive proud.” Sincerity and plain truth? Not a bit of it. Poor Richard was naught but pretense.
Almanacs, issued just before the New Year, were cheap page-a-month calendars, with tides, important dates, and the phases of the moon. They were handy. They were purchased, as Franklin pointed out, by “the common People, who bought scarce any other Books.” Printers filled their blank space with poems, jokes, prophecies, and proverbs, which were, alas, almost never beautiful, funny, true, or wise. Then came Poor Richard.
Franklin didn’t write most of Poor Richard’s proverbs. By his own guess, he wrote perhaps one out of every ten; the rest he found in books, especially anthologies like Thomas Fuller’s 1732 “Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British.” But Franklin was the kind of literary alchemist who could turn drivel into haiku. Fuller had written, “A Man in Passion rides a horse that runs away with him.” Franklin outpaced him: A Man in a Passion rides a mad Horse. Where Titan Leeds, the author of “The American Almanack,” blathered, “Many things are wanting to them that desire many things,” Poor Richard pegged it: If you desire many things, many things will seem but a few.
What really set Franklin’s almanacs apart was Poor Richard himself, who started out as an affectionate imitation of Jonathan Swift’s 1708 parody of an imaginary almanac-maker, Isaac Bickerstaff. Like Bickerstaff, Saunders confidently, and, of course, wrongly, prophesied the death of his chief rival—in this case, the unfortunate Titan Leeds—reading the future by the stars badly to suggest that it couldn’t possibly be done well. Not everyone picked up on the homage to Swift, but Franklin’s lampoon was hard to miss. (It helped that the word “poor” in the title of an almanac was an eighteenth-century term of art, a promise that a book would be silly and a warning that it might be vulgar. Poor Richard’s rivals included Poor Robin and Poor Will.) Almanacs forecast twelve months’ worth of weather. Franklin knew this for nonsense: in 1741, Poor Richard predicted only sunshine, explaining to his Courteous Reader, “To oblige thee the more, I have omitted all the bad Weather, being Thy Friend R.S.”
Franklin’s brainchild was tenderhearted, henpecked, and witless. Ever since Follies have pleas’d, Fools have been able to divert. Poor Richard had picked up his pen because his wife had threatened to burn his books and stargazing instruments if he didn’t earn a few more farthings, and because “The Printer has offer’d me some considerable share of the Profits.” Saunders liked his privacy, and never told anyone where he lived: “I would eat my Nails first.” But everyone knew that Franklin kept his house and printshop on Market Street, where he sold his almanacs for five pence each. Franklin’s wife, Deborah, who called the best-selling almanacs “Poor Dicks,” could barely keep them in the shop.
Saunders once complained that rumors had circulated “ That there is no such a Man as I am; and have spread this Notion so thoroughly in the Country, that I have been frequently told it to my Face by those that don’t know me.” Some ill-natured fiends had even suggested that Benjamin Franklin was really Poor Richard. A pox on them. “My Printer, to whom my Enemies are pleased to ascribe my Productions,” Saunders protested, “is as unwilling to father my Offspring as I am to lose the Credit of it.”
Poor Richard was Benjamin Franklin’s most famous bastard, but by no means his last. Over the course of his long life, Franklin used dozens of pen names, from the high-minded Americanus to the humble Homespun to the farcical and low FART-HING . Still, a pseudonym was too thin a veil for his most scandalous pieces, which he circulated only in manuscript. Strange! That a Man who has wit enough to write a Satyr; should have folly enough to publish it. In 1745, when Franklin was thirty-nine, he produced a parody of a gentleman’s-conduct manual that his most exhaustive biographer, J. A. Leo Lemay (in the second volume of a planned seven-volume biography), calls “a small masterpiece of eighteenth-century bawdry.” Franklin, who had suffered much from “that hard to be govern’d Passion of Youth,” wrote a letter advising a young man suffering the same, but unwilling to seek the remedy of marriage, to take only older women for mistresses, because “There is no hazard of Children.” Also, older women are wiser, better talkers, better at intrigue, and better at other things, too, “every Knack being by Practice capable of Improvement”; not to mention, “They are so grateful!! ”
Franklin counterfeited court documents, elegies, and even Scripture. Some of his fakes are so cunning that they weren’t discovered to be fakes, or his, until long after he was dead, partly because he was remarkably discreet ( Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead ) and partly because he was a practiced mimic. The boy too poor to go to Harvard had taught himself to write by imitating the prose style he found in an English gentleman’s magazine, The Spectator . He made The Spectator the tutor he never had: he read an essay, abstracted it, and then rewrote the argument from the abstract, to see if he could improve on the original. To make his prose more lyrical, he then turned the essays into poetry, and back again. In an essay he later wrote on literary style, which reads like Strunk and White, he pledged himself to brevity (“a multitude of Words obscures the Sense”), clarity (“To write clearly , not only the most expressive, but the plainest Words should be chosen”), and simplicity: “If a Man would that his Writings have an Effect on the Generality of Readers, he had better imitate that Gentleman, who would use no Word in his Works that was not well understood by his Cook-maid.”
About 1755, Franklin wrote a pastiche of the Old Testament, a parable attacking religious persecution, in pitch-perfect King James. He had it printed and bound within the pages of his own Bible so that he could read it aloud and see who would fall for it. (Franklin was a Deist, though he usually kept his skepticism to himself. Talking against Religion is unchaining a Tyger .) In Franklin’s chapter of Genesis, Abraham casts a bent and bowed old man out of his tent and into the wilderness when the stranger reveals himself to be an infidel. At midnight, God, finding the old man gone, thunders at Abraham, “Have I borne with him these hundred ninety and eight Years, and nourished him, and cloathed him, notwithstanding his Rebellion against me, and couldst not thou, that art thyself a Sinner, bear with him one Night?”
Benjamin Franklin took a great deal of pleasure in his wit, and maybe most of all in Richard Saunders. Even after he retired from business, in 1748, to devote himself to reading, writing, scientific experiments, and what would turn out to be forty-two years of tireless public service, he kept on writing the prefaces to Poor Richard’s almanacs, now printed by his partner, David Hall. But by 1757, on that voyage to London to lobby for a more equitable distribution of the taxes Parliament was raising to pay for the French and Indian War, Franklin took up his favorite role for what he must have thought would be the last time. “The Way to Wealth” was Poor Richard’s swan song, Franklin’s farewell to a troubled America. (He did not return until 1762, and left again two years later. He spent most of the rest of his life in England and France.)
Saunders began by thanking his readers, “for they buy my Works; and besides, in my Rambles, where I am not personally known, I have frequently heard one or other of my Adages repeated, with, as Poor Richard says , at the End on’t.” This pleased him so much, he said, that “I have sometimes quoted myself with great Gravity.” Then he told a story. He had stopped his horse at an auction, where one Father Abraham, “a plain clean old Man, with white Locks,” stood before a crowd. (It’s hard not to hear the echo of Franklin’s Biblical Abraham.) “ Pray, Father Abraham, what think you of the Times ?” the crowd asked the old man. “ Won’t these heavy Taxes quite ruin the Country ? How shall we be ever able to pay them ?” What followed—Father Abraham’s harangue—was, of course, Franklin himself, quoting himself, just as he’d hinted, with counterfeit gravity, and with his characteristic charity, since the speech was his parting gift to countrymen bearing the cost of a war for which there was no end in sight (not for nothing did it come to be called the Seven Years’ War):
Friends, says he, and Neighbours, the Taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the Government were the only Ones we had to pay, we might more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our Idleness , three times as much by our Pride , and four times as much by our Folly , and from these Taxes the Commissioners cannot ease or deliver us by allowing an Abatement. However let us hearken to good Advice, and something may be done for us; God helps them that help themselves, as Poor Richard says.
The rest of Father Abraham’s speech, strung together from proverbs hoarded from earlier almanacs, endorsed thrift: “Here you are all got together at this Vendue of Fineries and Knicknacks . You call them Goods , but if you do not take Care, they will prove Evils to some of you. You expect they will be sold cheap , and perhaps they may for less than they cost; but if you have no Occasion for them, they must be dear to you. Remember what Poor Richard says, Buy what thou hast no Need of, and ere long thou shalt sell thy Necessaries .”
After the hoary old man finished, the people “approved the Doctrine and immediately practised the contrary, just as if it had been a common Sermon.” The sale opened, and “they began to buy extravagantly.”
Franklin didn’t heed Father Abraham’s advice, either. When he reached London, he went shopping, and shipped to his wife a huge collection of china (“there is something from all the china works in England”), along with melons, bowls, coffee cups, four silver salt ladles, “a little instrument to core apples,” tea cloths (“for nobody here breakfasts on the naked table”), a carpet, tablecloths, napkins, sheets, fifty-six yards of cotton, seven yards of fabric for covering chairs, snuffers, a snuff-stand, silk blankets, and a gown made of sixteen yards of flowered tissue. He even thought about buying his daughter a harpsichord, but, thrifty man, decided against it.
The best-known proverb of “The Way to Wealth” has vexed generations of the lazy-boned and sleepy-headed. Early to Bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy and wise. “The sorrow that that maxim has cost me through my parents’ experimenting on me with it, tongue cannot tell,” Mark Twain once wrote. By the time Twain was writing, in 1870, Benjamin Franklin had turned into Father Abraham in the American imagination. “The Way to Wealth,” so useful in the farming, boycotting, non-importing, independence-loving eighteenth century, came to be worshipped in the capitalizing, industrializing, Founders-revering nineteenth century. The joke fell flat. The parody within the sham became the man. Of the nineteenth-century’s frugal, prudent, sober, homey, quaint, sexless, humorless, preachy Benjamin Franklin—loved (by Dale Carnegie), hated (by D. H. Lawrence), and held up (by Max Weber) as the original American Puritan striver, the prophet of prosperity—Twain wrote, “He was a hard lot.”
Until Carl Van Doren’s 1938 biography, Franklin was hostage to this narrow view of his character. Valiantly, Van Doren vowed “to rescue him from the dry, prim people who have claimed him as one of them.” He wrote, “They praise his thrift. But he himself admitted that he could never learn frugality, and he practised it no longer than his poverty forced him to. They praise his prudence. But at seventy he became a leader of a revolution.” Van Doren, who had earlier written a biography of Swift, couldn’t have tried harder to free Franklin from the shackles that bound him. “The dry, prim people seem to regard him as a treasure shut up in a savings bank, to which they have the lawful key. I herewith give him back, in his grand dimensions, to his nation and the world.”
Bad biographies make small men great; Franklin’s biographers have had the opposite problem. It’s difficult to fit Franklin between the covers of a book. His contributions to statesmanship, science, philanthropy, and literature were unrivalled both in his time and in ours. Even though Van Doren’s “Benjamin Franklin” was “cut with hard labour to the bone,” it still runs well past eight hundred pages. People who fall for Franklin fall hard. William Strahan, the London printer who brought out Samuel Johnson’s dictionary, wrote in 1757, on meeting Franklin, “I never saw a man who was, in every respect, so perfectly agreeable to me. Some are amiable in one view, some in another, he in all.” Van Doren felt the same way.
For all that Van Doren did, he failed to set Franklin free. Nearly every biographer to follow him has had to try to unfetter Franklin from his myth. “I do not come to bury this story, this Benjamin Franklin,” David Waldstreicher wrote in his 2004 study of Franklin and slavery, “so much as to show how it became the story.” “We seem to have been blinded” by Franklin’s light, Joyce Chaplin observed, in “The First Scientific American.” “Debunking Franklin” is what Gordon Wood tried to do in his 2004 “Americanization of Benjamin Franklin,” in which he suggested that Franklin, the man Frederick Jackson Turner dubbed “the first great American,” was essentially European. “Not Your Usual Founding Father,” Edmund Morgan titled his 2006 selection of Franklin’s writings, in which he deliberately skipped over “The Way to Wealth” and instead included a chapter called “The Uses of Laughter.” But Benjamin Franklin is still good and stuck—a walking, talking, page-a-day desk calendar. To his twee reputation, the man’s cosmopolitan, enlightened, revolutionary life and volume after volume of his Papers seem to matter not at all. As Poor Richard once said, sometimes Force shites upon Reason’s back .
Maybe the blame ought to be laid at Franklin’s own desk. On board that ship to London in 1757, he looked at twenty-five years’ worth of Poor Dicks and chose ninety-odd proverbs to put in “The Way to Wealth,” a set that, by any measure, is no fair sample of Poor Richard’s wisdom, which was not mostly or even very much about money and how to get it. If Franklin hadn’t been so worried about taxes, he might instead have pulled together some of Poor Richard’s many proverbs about equality: The greatest monarch on the proudest throne, is oblig’d to sit upon his own arse. Or hypocrisy: He that is conscious of a Stink in his Breeches, is jealous of every Wrinkle in another’s Nose. Or courtship: Neither a Fortress nor a Maidenhead will hold out long after they begin to parly. Or religion: Serving God is Doing good to Man, but Praying is thought an easier Service, and therefore more generally chosen . Or delusion: He that lives upon Hope, dies farting . (Scholars have suggested that the last one was a printer’s error, and should have read “fasting,” but, I ask you, who was the printer?) Or he might have chosen to collect the dozens of Poor Richard’s proverbs advising against the accumulation of wealth: The Poor have little, Beggars none; the Rich too much, enough not one .
Franklin didn’t live by Poor Richard’s proverbs, nor did he agree with all of them. He that best understands the World, least likes it could hardly be farther from Franklin’s philosophy. And Nothing dries sooner than a Tear is not the sentiment of a man who, thirty-six years after the death of his four-year-old son, Francis, was still felled by grief at the thought of the boy.
But he did believe, earnestly and passionately, in hard work and sacrifice. The man behind Silence Dogood was committed to the principle of silently doing good. And he had boundless sympathy for the common people who bought his almanacs, people John Adams disdained as “rabble,” people as poor and humble as the tenth son of a second-rate chandler. In 1757, when Franklin finally set sail on that ship to England, he picked proverbs that might help struggling Americans bear the cost of the war. “I would rather have it said, He lived usefully, than, He died rich ,” Franklin once wrote, and he meant it.
In 1764, just before sailing again for England, Franklin may have written—scholars are uncertain—one last preface to his almanac. The war had ended in 1763, but half of Britain’s revenues were now going to pay interest on its debt, and Parliament, which had just passed the Sugar and Currency Acts, was debating a new stamp tax. Once again, Poor Richard urged frugality. “Taxes are of late Years greatly encreased among us, and now it is said we are to be burthened with the Payment of new Duties,” a distressingly sober and spiritless Saunders observed. “What are we to do, but, like honest and prudent Men, endeavour to do without the Things we shall, perhaps, never be able to pay for; or if we cannot do without them or something like them, to supply ourselves from our own Produce at home.” In these dire times, Poor Richard offered not proverbs but recipes, to help Americans get by without imported sugar: recipes for wine made from homegrown grapes, rum made from corn, and sugar made from beets. In London, in 1766, Franklin was questioned before the House of Commons during its deliberations on the repeal of the Stamp Act. Asked how soldiers sent to enforce the new taxes would be received, Franklin answered, “They will not find a rebellion; they may indeed make one.”
The king and Parliament heeded Franklin’s advice just about as much “as if it had been a common Sermon.” They sent the soldiers. They made a rebellion. In 1771, not long after the Boston Massacre, in which British troops fired into a crowd of civilians, Franklin began writing his autobiography. He never finished it; it breaks off in 1758, just after he tells the story of sailing to London. By 1771, “The Way to Wealth” had already risen to its unexpected status as his most celebrated piece of writing. “The Piece being universally approved was copied in all the Newspapers of the Continent,” Franklin noted. It had proved useful. Franklin’s “Autobiography,” as carefully crafted a piece of prose as anything he ever wrote, is, in some ways, “The Way to Wealth” writ large; it was, as he must have judged it, the most useful thing he could offer to the American people, into whose service he had long since pressed his very self. The Master-piece of Man is to live to the purpose.
Benjamin Franklin abridged his genius, his character, his life. But he reads better unabridged; and “The Way to Wealth” makes a poor epitaph. Maybe it’s wiser to repay his wit with irreverence, and remember him by the epitaph he wrote for himself, in 1728:
The Body of B. Franklin, Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost; For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new and more perfect Edition, Corrected and amended, By the author.
And sweet, tenderhearted Poor Richard? Maybe he’s best remembered by his annual farewell: “May this Year prove a happy One to Thee and Thine, is the hearty Wish of, Kind Reader, Thy obliged Friend, R. SAUNDERS .” ♦
By Patrick Radden Keefe
By Eli Hager
By Ariel Levy
By Ronan Farrow
- Search Menu
- Browse content in Arts and Humanities
- Browse content in Archaeology
- Historical Archaeology
- Browse content in Classical Studies
- Classical Philosophy
- Classical Literature
- Religion in the Ancient World
- Browse content in History
- Colonialism and Imperialism
- History by Period
- Intellectual History
- Maritime History
- Military History
- Political History
- Regional and National History
- Slavery and Abolition of Slavery
- Social and Cultural History
- Theory, Methods, and Historiography
- Browse content in Literature
- Literary Studies (Romanticism)
- Literary Studies (American)
- Literary Studies (European)
- Literary Studies - World
- Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
- Literary Studies (19th Century)
- Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)
- Literary Studies (African American Literature)
- Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)
- Literary Studies (Fiction, Novelists, and Prose Writers)
- Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)
- Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)
- Literary Studies (Women's Writing)
- Literary Theory and Cultural Studies
- Mythology and Folklore
- Browse content in Media Studies
- Browse content in Music
- Music Theory and Analysis
- Musical Structures, Styles, and Techniques
- Musicology and Music History
- Browse content in Religion
- History of Religion
- Judaism and Jewish Studies
- Religion and Art, Literature, and Music
- Religious Studies
- Browse content in Society and Culture
- Cultural Studies
- Visual Culture
- Browse content in Science and Mathematics
- History of Science and Technology
- Browse content in Social Sciences
- Browse content in Business and Management
- Business Strategy
- Business History
- Browse content in Economics
- Economic History
- Museums, Libraries, and Information Sciences
- Browse content in Politics
- Environmental Politics
- International Relations
- Political Sociology
- Political Theory
- Public Policy
- UK Politics
- Browse content in Regional and Area Studies
- African Studies
- Asian Studies
- Latin American Studies
- Middle Eastern Studies
- Browse content in Sociology
- Gender and Sexuality
- Migration Studies
- Occupations, Professions, and Work
- Social Movements and Social Change
- Sport and Leisure
- Urban and Rural Studies
- Reviews and Awards
- Journals on Oxford Academic
- Books on Oxford Academic
- < Previous chapter
- Next chapter >
6 Benjamin Franklin’s Ethnic Drag – Notes on Abolition, Satire, and Affect
- Published: January 2014
- Cite Icon Cite
- Permissions Icon Permissions
This chapter discusses a relatively neglected satirical attack on slavery by Benjamin Franklin, “Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim on the Slave Trade” (1790). It examines the maneuvers employed in the text to displace debates over enslavement practices in the United States onto a distant temporal, spatial, and political plane. The chapter reads the mobilization of the generic framework and affective economies of the Barbary captivity narrative as a textual performance of “ethnic drag.” It discusses the ambivalent effects of this performance to engage with the absent issue of the dehumanization of enslaved blacks. It is argued that Franklin’s satire ultimately remains confined to the realm of a master discourse about the most adequate economic and political forms and norms of a modern state. The abolitionist text thus partakes in establishing and normalizing hegemonic speaking position in the late eighteenth-century Transatlantic sphere.
Signed in as
- Google Scholar Indexing
- GoogleCrawler [DO NOT DELETE]
- Sign in with email/username & password
- Get email alerts
- Save searches
- Purchase content
- Activate your purchase/trial code
- Sign in with a library card Sign in with username/password Recommend to your librarian
- Institutional account management
- Get help with access
Access to content on Oxford Academic is often provided through institutional subscriptions and purchases. If you are a member of an institution with an active account, you may be able to access content in one of the following ways:
IP based access
Typically, access is provided across an institutional network to a range of IP addresses. This authentication occurs automatically, and it is not possible to sign out of an IP authenticated account.
Sign in through your institution
Choose this option to get remote access when outside your institution. Shibboleth/Open Athens technology is used to provide single sign-on between your institutionâ€™s website and Oxford Academic.
- Click Sign in through your institution.
- Select your institution from the list provided, which will take you to your institution's website to sign in.
- When on the institution site, please use the credentials provided by your institution. Do not use an Oxford Academic personal account.
- Following successful sign in, you will be returned to Oxford Academic.
If your institution is not listed or you cannot sign in to your institutionâ€™s website, please contact your librarian or administrator.
Sign in with a library card
Enter your library card number to sign in. If you cannot sign in, please contact your librarian.
Society member access to a journal is achieved in one of the following ways:
Sign in through society site
Many societies offer single sign-on between the society website and Oxford Academic. If you see â€˜Sign in through society siteâ€™ in the sign in pane within a journal:
- Click Sign in through society site.
- When on the society site, please use the credentials provided by that society. Do not use an Oxford Academic personal account.
If you do not have a society account or have forgotten your username or password, please contact your society.
Sign in using a personal account
Some societies use Oxford Academic personal accounts to provide access to their members. See below.
A personal account can be used to get email alerts, save searches, purchase content, and activate subscriptions.
Some societies use Oxford Academic personal accounts to provide access to their members.
Viewing your signed in accounts
Click the account icon in the top right to:
- View your signed in personal account and access account management features.
- View the institutional accounts that are providing access.
Signed in but can't access content
Oxford Academic is home to a wide variety of products. The institutional subscription may not cover the content that you are trying to access. If you believe you should have access to that content, please contact your librarian.
For librarians and administrators, your personal account also provides access to institutional account management. Here you will find options to view and activate subscriptions, manage institutional settings and access options, access usage statistics, and more.
Our books are available by subscription or purchase to libraries and institutions.
- About Oxford Academic
- Publish journals with us
- University press partners
- What we publish
- New features
- Open access
- Rights and permissions
- Media enquiries
- Oxford University Press
- Oxford Languages
- University of Oxford
Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide
- Copyright © 2024 Oxford University Press
- Cookie settings
- Legal notice
This Feature Is Available To Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only
For full access to this pdf, sign in to an existing account, or purchase an annual subscription.
STUDY GUIDE: Below is specific background information and discussion prompts to guide and to inform your reading. Try to respond to all to your satisfaction while you read. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Benjamin Franklin's "On the Slave Trade" - is the last of Benjamin Franklin's famous hoaxes, published less than a month before his death. The letter from "Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim" never existed: Franklin just made it up. "Erika" is the name of a religious sect that opposes slavery and has submitted a petition that slavery be abolished. "Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim," a member of the "Divan of Algiers," wishes that slavery continue and writes a letter explaining why it should not be abolished. When reading "On the Slave Trade," be aware that it is a satire in the mode of Jonathan Swift's "Modest Proposal"; to interpret it, you must consider the implications of holding up an Islamic tyrant as a model for citizens of a Christian republic to emulate. This hoax has a deadly serious purpose: to expose the absurdity of the arguments in defense of the trade in human beings. Discussion Prompts What lines support the idea that the text is “ sharp political and social satire ?" What lines in "On the Slave Trade" show that this essay's purpose is to expose the absurdity of the arguments in defense of the trade in human beings? More Background on Benjamin Franklin In the later eighteenth century, many intellectuals let go of the religious traditions of their Puritan past and championed a national identity based on shared ideals as a way to free the individual from the constricting hand of the repressive past. Franklin's contribution to the creation of an American national identity is significant and he played an important role in the shift in the American consciousness from an otherworldly (Puritanism) to a this-worldly (Rationalism) viewpoint. Franklin's writing reveals the optimism and self-confidence of his age and reflects the Enlightenment's emphasis on Rationalism - the growing confidence of the eighteenth century that humanity could, through personal effort and social reform, analyze and deal with social problems. Franklin's abandonment of Puritan ideal (God is in control of history) in favor of the ideals of the Enlightenment (People can mold history) reflects a central shift in American society in the eighteenth century. His belief that theory should be tested primarily by experience not logic also reflects his age's belief that reason should be tested pragmatically. In addition, his works reflect the growing awareness of America as a country with values and interests distinct from those of England--a movement that, of course, finds its climax in the Revolution. http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/bassr/heath/syllabuild/iguide/Franklin.html
Franklin and the American Experiment
Just another Blogs @ Suffolk University site
Rewrite of “Historicus” to Federal Gazette”
Briana D’Amelio, Megan Scully, Marissa Gudauskas and Ashlee Backhus
Benjamin Franklin wrote a satircal piece under the pseudonym Historicus. It is a response to a speech given by Georgia Representative James Jackson, who was pro-slavery. To mock Jackson’s speech, Franklin created a fictional character who was the leader of Algiers named Sidi Mehmet Ibrahim, who “gave” a speech 100 years prior. In the fictional speech given, Ibrahim states that he was “against granting the Petition of the Sect, called Erika.” The Erika were purist who wanted to abolish slavery because they found it to be unjust.
Ibrahim’s fictional speech questioned the Erika as to why they wanted their petition to be accepted. These questions included “Who will cultivate the lands?” and “Who will perform common labors in the city and in the family?” He also says that if the petition were to pass, the land will become of no value for want of cultivation, rents of houses will be reduced by one half, revenues of government arising from its share of Prizes would be reduced, slaves would be set free and they would not convert and embrace Christianity.
Because of Franklin’s opposition against slavery, he was named President of the Pennsylvannia Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. In this role, he petitioned to promote the abolition of slavery which prompted Jackson to make his speech that focused on aspects of pro-slavery.
Both petitions were ultimately not granted and slavery was not abolished at this time.
This satirical parody was Franklin’s last piece of work before his death. Though Franklin may not have known this was going to be his last written piece of his lifetime, the importance of abolishing slavery was so significant to him that he would have been satisfied knowing that he got to share his last thoughts on a subject that he felt so strongly about. “Although his health was failing, Franklin’s mind and pen remained sharp until the end.”
12 thoughts on “Rewrite of “Historicus” to Federal Gazette””
Great analysis of this piece of satire. You highlighted the historical significance this piece has and how it played into the Congressional debate about slavery and the slave trade in the 1790s. Well done.
Welcome to Kolkata Escorts Service. We offer High Class Sexy Independent Escort Call Girls 24/7. Here you get all type of Sexy Female Call Girls at Very low cost. https://www.hotgirlsecret.net
WTF, This is a learning website, not a place for you to ply your trade, which is apparently your only skill.
Your blogs are authentic and great. Are you also searching for cheap nursing writing company? we are the best solution for you. We are best known for delivering quality essay writing services to students without having to break the bank
WTF, This is a learning website, not a website for you to advertize and play your trade, apparently the only skills you have.
Great work, lucky to find this amazing post. How I wish I can also write like this very well written and organized. Can you check mine? Click this
안전 카지노 코인 카지노 안전 토토 사이트 먹튀 검증 커뮤니티 스포츠 토토 사이트 https://www.j9korea.com
Fantastic examination of this satire. You emphasized the historical importance of this work and how it contributed to the 1790s Congressional debate on slavery and the slave trade foodle . Thank you.
Are you looking for more efficient ways to handle your daily business operations and transactions? You can get help at airslate.com/bots/uipath . It’s a multi-cloud, no-code solution that speeds up crucial paper-based business operations.
hey, your internet site is excellent. We do appreciate your work ร้านอาหารอุบล
I have been looking for articles on these topics for a long time. baccarat online I don’t know how grateful you are for posting on this topic. Thank you for the numerous articles on this site, I will subscribe to those links in my bookmarks and visit them often. Have a nice day
Your article has answered the question I was wondering about! I would like to write a thesis on this subject, but I would like you to give your opinion once 😀 casinocommunity and I am very happy to see your post just in time and it was a great help. Thank you ! Leave your blog address below. Please visit me anytime.
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
- When we change our clocks
- Incidents and anecdotes
- Rationale & original idea
- Opposition & obstacles
- First there was Standard time
- Early adoption and U.S. law
- Worldwide daylight saving
- Museum store
You are now viewing Pages . Click Nodes for cloud view.
> Read full essay .
At the age of 78, in a moment of whimsey, Benjamin Franklin wrote An Economical Project , a discourse on the thrift of natural versus artificial lighting. He included several funny regulations that Paris might adopt to help. Over two centuries later, nations around the world use a variation of his concept to conserve energy and more fully enjoy the benefits of daylight.
Benjamin in Paris
As he neared the end of his long tenure as American delegate in Paris, Benjamin Franklin felt his years. Gout and gallstones hampered his movements and left him virtually confined to his house in the Parisian suburb of Passy. Such restrictions to a man of Franklin's dynamic and social nature would have been vexing indeed had he not the company of close friends, men like Antoine Alexis-Francois Cadet de Vaux, editor of the Journal de Paris , who encouraged him to work on simple, yet important, problems. To show his appreciation to these comrades, Franklin penned a series of bagatelles for their amusement.
One such piece took the form of a letter to the Journal de Paris concerning the economy of lighting in the home, which Franklin wrote after attending the demonstration of a new oil lamp. In it, he parodied himself, his love of thrift, his scientific papers and his passion for playing chess until the wee hours of the morning then sleeping until midday. His friend Cadet de Vaux published the letter in the Journal on April 26, 1784, under the English title An Economical Project . Franklin began the letter by noting that much discussion had followed the demonstration of an oil lamp the previous evening concerning the amount of oil used in relation to the quantity of light produced. This he followed with details of how a great discovery of an avenue of thrift came to him.
The Parisians never woke before noon
Franklin had eventually bedded down at three or four hours past midnight but was awakened at six in the morning by a sudden noise. Surprised to find his room filled with light, Franklin at first imagined that a number of the new oil lamps were the source, but he soon perceived the light to be originating from the outside. Looking out the window, Franklin saw the sun rising above the horizon, its rays pouring through the open shutters.
"I looked at my watch, which goes very well, and found that it was but six o clock; and still thinking it something extraordinary that the sun should rise so early, I looked into the almanac, where I found it to be the hour given for his rising on that day. I looked forward too, and found he was to rise still earlier every day towards the end of June; and that no time during the year he retarded his rising so long as till eight o clock. Your readers, who with me have never seen any sign of sunshine before noon, and seldom regard the astronomical part of the almanac, will be as much astonished as I was, when they hear of his rising so early; and especially when I assure them, that he gives light as soon as he rises. I am convinced of this.
Sly Franklin claimed that a noted philosopher assured him that he was most certainly mistaken, for it was well known that "there could be no light abroad at that hour." His windows had not let the light in, but being open, had let the darkness out.
" This event has given rise in my mind to several serious and important reflections ," the letter continued. Had he not been aroused at so early a morning hour, he would have slept until noon through six hours of daylight and therefore, living six hours the following night by candlelight. Realizing the latter was much more expensive than the former, he began calculating, for the sheer love of economy, the utility of his discovery -- the true test of any invention.
On the assumption that 100,000 Parisian families burned half a pound of candles per hour for an average of seven hours per day (the average time for the summer months between dusk and the supposed bedtime of Parisians), the account would stand thus:
"183 nights between 20 March and 20 September times 7 hours per night of candle usage equals 1,281 hours for a half year of candle usage. Multiplying by 100,000 families gives 128,100,000 hours by candlelight. Each candle requires half a pound of tallow and wax, thus a total of 64,050,000 pounds. At a price of thirty sols per pounds of tallow and wax (two hundred sols make one livre tournois), the total sum comes to 96,075,000 livre tournois.
"An immense sum," the astonished Franklin concluded, "that the city of Paris might save every year."
Some "new" regulations
To answer skeptics who cried that old habits are hard to change, and it would be difficult to induce the population of Paris to rise before noon, Franklin proposed the following regulations:
Future of the idea
The great discovery, conceived in humor and reported with all the wit and wisdom of Poor Richard was not soon forgotten. Cadet de Vaux reprinted the article on November 30, 1785. Messrs Quinquet and Lange, inventors of the oil lamp that sparked the idea, were so taken by the scheme that they continued corresponding with Franklin even after he returned to America.
Franklin continued to think about the scheme, and it may have prompted this description of 18th-century London written in his autobiography:
"For in walking thro' the Strand and Fleet Street one morning at seven o clock, I observed there was not one shop open tho it had been daylight and the sun up above three hours -- the inhabitants of London choosing voluntarily to live much by candlelight and sleep by sunshine, and yet often complaining a little absurdly of the duty on candles and the high price of tallow."
Decades later, church bells and cannon to rouse a sleeping populace were replaced by the simple act of altering the hands on clocks in the spring as the hour of dawning becomes too early for most sleepy eyes. In 1973, for the second time in American history, the Congress declared the year-round use of Daylight Saving Time to save energy during the oil embargo as a general concern for the nation's good and a love for economy. Today as fossil fuel supplies diminish and increase in price and their use damages the environment, we need to heed Franklin's advice still again.
Benjamin Franklin : Silence Dogood, The Busy-Body, & Early Writings
“The reader seems to see many Franklins, one emerging from another like those brightly painted Russian dolls which, ever smaller, disclose yet one more.” — John Updike, The New Yorker
- Barnes and Noble
- ?aff=libraryamerica" target="_blank" class="link--black">Shop Indie
Phone orders: 1-800-964-5778 Request product #201022
ISBN: 978-1-93108222-8 823 pages
LOA books are distributed worldwide by Penguin Random House
Get 10% off your first Library of America purchase.
Sign up for our monthly e-newsletter and receive a coupon for 10% off your first LOA purchase. Discount offer available for first-time customers only.
A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.
Benefits of Using Safe Crypto Casinos. One of the most captivating reasons people drift towards Australian casinos online-casino-au com is the promise of anonymity. Safe platforms guarantee that your identity remains a secret. Quick Payouts and Minimal Fees. No one likes waiting, especially for winnings. Safe crypto casinos ensure that payouts are swift and the fees minimal, if not non-existent.
With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come. Ozwin Casino offers an exciting array of top-notch slots that cater to every player's preferences. From classic fruit machines to cutting-edge video slots, Ozwin Casino Real Money collection has it all. With stunning graphics, immersive themes, and seamless gameplay, these slots deliver an unparalleled gaming experience. Some popular titles include Mega Moolah, Gonzo's Quest, and Starburst, known for their massive jackpots and thrilling bonus features. Ozwin Casino's slots are not just about luck; they offer hours of entertainment and the chance to win big, making it a must-visit for slot enthusiasts.
Founders Online --> [ Back to normal view ]
From benjamin franklin to the royal academy of brussels, [after 19 may 1780], to the royal academy of brussels.
Passy, printed by Benjamin Franklin; AL : Chicago Historical Society; AL (draft) and copy: Library of Congress
The Académie impériale et royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles did not, according to its own historians, produce a body of work of enduring value during its founding decade. It was formed in 1772 in an attempt to raise what had been a small literary society from a level of “frivolity.” By incorporating the sciences, the academy hoped to become a serious institution. 2 One of its chief activities in its early years was to organize and judge intellectual contests, for which it devised questions and awarded medals. 3 At a meeting of October 13 and 14, 1779 (the report of which was not published until the following May), the society announced four questions for the upcoming year. The first three were literary and historical. The final one, in mathematics, was proposed “au lieu d’une question physique”: given a certain geometric figure, how could one determine the greatest number of smaller figures that could be contained inside the first? 4 Franklin found the question so ridiculous, especially in light of its being advertised as having a practical value, that he penned this sarcastic response.
He was pleased enough with the essay to print it as one of the bagatelles, but uneasy enough at its “grossiereté” to explicitly request William Carmichael not to publish it in Spain. 5 In September, 1783, writing to Richard Price after the peace treaty had been signed, Franklin was reminded of the topic of “inflammable air” while describing the French balloon craze. He enclosed a copy of this bagatelle, calling it “a jocular Paper I wrote some Years since in ridicule of a Prize Question given out by a certain Academy on this side the Water.” But, realizing that Price was a mathematician and might see merit where he had seen none, Franklin then suggested that his friend simply forward it to Priestley, “who is apt to give himself Airs (i.e. fix’d, deflogisticated, &c. &c.) and has a kind of Right to every thing his Friends produce upon that Subject.” 6 If Franklin read the volume of the Academy’s memoirs published that year (1783), he would have learned that the prize question was withdrawn because it had not been satisfactorily resolved. 7
[after May 19, 1780] 8
To the Royal Academy of *****
I Have perused your late mathematical Prize Question, proposed in lieu of one in Natural Philosophy, for the ensuing year, viz. “ Une figure quelconque donnée, on demande d’y inscrire le plus grand nombre de fois possible une autre figure plus petite quelconque, qui est aussi donnée. ” I was glad to find by these following Words, “ l’Académie a jugé que cette découverte, en étendant les bornes de nos connoissances, ne seroit pas sans UTILITÉ ”, that you esteem Utility an essential Point in your Enquiries, which has not always been the case with all Academies; and I conclude therefore that you have given this Question instead of a philosophical, or as the Learned express it, a physical one, because you could not at the time think of a physical one that promis’d greater Utility .
Permit me then humbly to propose one of that sort for your consideration, and through you, if you approve it, for the serious Enquiry of learned Physicians, Chemists, &c. of this enlightened Age.
It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Créatures, a great Quantity of Wind.
That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.
That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.
That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.
Were it not for the odiously offensive Smell accompanying such Escapes, polite People would probably be under no more Restraint in discharging such Wind in Company, than they are in spitting, or in blowing their Noses.
My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes .
That this is not a chimerical Project, and altogether impossible, may appear from these Considerations. That we already have some Knowledge of Means capable of Varying that Smell. He that dines on stale Flesh, especially with much Addition of Onions, shall be able to afford a Stink that no Company can tolerate; while he that has lived for some Time on Vegetables only, shall have that Breath so pure as to be insensible to the most delicate Noses; and if he can manage so as to avoid the Report, he may any where give Vent to his Griefs, unnoticed. But as there are many to whom an entire Vegetable Diet would be inconvenient, and as a little Quick-Lime thrown into a Jakes will correct the amazing Quantity of fetid Air arising from the vast Mass of putrid Matter contain’d in such Places, and render it rather pleasing to the Smell, who knows but that a little Powder of Lime (or some other thing equivalent) taken in our Food, or perhaps a Glass of Limewater drank at Dinner, may have the same Effect on the Air produc’d in and issuing from our Bowels? This is worth the Experiment. Certain it is also that we have the Power of changing by slight Means the Smell of another Discharge, that of our Water. A few Stems of Asparagus eaten, shall give our Urine a disagreable Odour; and a Pill of Turpentine no bigger than a Pea, shall bestow on it the pleasing Smell of Violets. And why should it be thought more impossible in Nature, to find Means of making a Perfume of our Wind than of our Water?
For the Encouragement of this Enquiry, (from the immortal Honour to be reasonably expected by the Inventor) let it be considered of how small Importance to Mankind, or to how small a Part of Mankind have been useful those Discoveries in Science that have heretofore made Philosophers famous. Are there twenty Men in Europe at this Day, the happier, or even the easier, for any Knowledge they have pick’d out of Aristotle? What Comfort can the Vortices of Descartes give to a Man who has Whirlwinds in his Bowels! The Knowledge of Newton’s mutual Attraction of the Particles of Matter, can it afford Ease to him who is rack’d by their mutual Repulsion , and the cruel Distensions it occasions? The Pleasure arising to a few Philosophers, from seeing, a few Times in their Life, the Threads of Light untwisted, and separated by the Newtonian Prism into seven Colours, can it be compared with the Ease and Comfort every Man living might feel seven times a Day, by discharging freely the Wind from his Bowels? Especially if it be converted into a Perfume: For the Pleasures of one Sense being little inferior to those of another, instead of pleasing the Sight he might delight the Smell of those about him, & make Numbers happy, which to a benevolent Mind must afford infinite Satisfaction. The generous Soul, who now endeavours to find out whether the Friends he entertains like best Claret or Burgundy, Champagne or Madeira, would then enquire also whether they chose Musk or Lilly, Rose or Bergamot, and provide accordingly. And surely such a Liberty of Ex-pressing one’s Scent-iments , and pleasing one another , is of infinitely more Importance to human Happiness than that Liberty of the Press , or abusing one another , which the English are so ready to fight & die for. —In short, this Invention, if compleated, would be, as Bacon expresses it, bringing Philosophy home to Mens Business and Bosoms . 9 And I cannot but conclude, that in Comparison therewith, for universal and continual UTILITY , the Science of the Philosophers abovementioned, even with the Addition, Gentlemen, of your “ Figure quelconque ” and the Figures inscrib’d in it, are, all together, scarcely worth a
F A R T-H I N G.
2 . See L’Académie royale de Belgique depuis sa fondation (1772–1922) (Brussels, 1922), pp. 11–13. See also Richard E. Amacher, Franklin’s Wit & Folly: the Bagatelles (New Brunswick, N.J., 1953), pp. 63–5.
3 . L’Académie royale de Belgique , pp. 12, 15.
4 . Mémoires de L’Académie impériale et royale des Sciences et Belles-Lettres de Bruxelles , III (1780), xliii–xlv. BF quotes from this question at the beginning of the bagatelle.
5 . To Carmichael, Jan. 23, 1782, Smyth, Letters , VIII , 369.
6 . To Price, Sept. 16, 1783, Library of Congress.
7 . Mémoires de L’Académie …, IV (1783), p. xxiv.
8 . The date on which volume III of the Mémoires , containing the satirized prize question, was announced for sale: Edouard Mailly, Histoire de l’Académie impériale et royale des sciences et belles-lettres de Bruxelles (Brussels, 1883), p. 267.
9 . From the dedication to the 1625 edition of Essayes: Francis Bacon, The Essayes or Counsels, Civill and Morall (Michael Kiernan, ed., Oxford, 1985), p. 5.
You are looking at.
Russia establishes special site to fabricate fuel for China’s CFR-600
A special production site to fabricate fuel for China’s CFR-600 fast reactor under construction has been established at Russia’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ - Machine-Building Plant) in Elektrostal (Moscow region), part of Rosatom’s TVEL Fuel Company.
As part of the project, MSZ had upgraded existing facilities fo the production of fuel for fast reactors, TVEL said on 3 March. Unique equipment has been created and installed, and dummy CFR-600 fuel assemblies have already been manufactured for testing.
The new production site was set up to service an export contract between TVEL and the Chinese company CNLY (part of China National Nuclear Corporation - CNNC) for the supply of uranium fuel for CFR-600 reactors. Construction of the first CFR-600 unit started in Xiapu County, in China's Fujian province in late 2017 followed by the second unit in December 2020. The contract is for the start-up fuel load, as well as refuelling for the first seven years. The start of deliveries is scheduled for 2023.
“The Russian nuclear industry has a unique 40 years of experience in operating fast reactors, as well as in the production of fuel for such facilities,” said TVEL President Natalya Nikipelova. “The Fuel Division of Rosatom is fulfilling its obligations within the framework of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the development of fast reactor technologies. These are unique projects when foreign design fuel is produced in Russia. Since 2010, the first Chinese fast neutron reactor CEFR has been operating on fuel manufactured at the Machine-Building Plant, and for the supply of CFR-600 fuel, a team of specialists from MSZ and TVEL has successfully completed a complex high-tech project to modernise production,” she explained.
A special feature of the new section is its versatility: this equipment will be used to produce fuel intended for both the Chinese CFR-600 and CEFR reactors and the Russian BN-600 reactor of the Beloyarsk NPP. In the near future, the production of standard products for the BN-600 will begin.
The contract for the supply of fuel for the CFR-600 was signed in December 2018 as part of a governmental agreement between Russia and China on cooperation in the construction and operation of a demonstration fast neutron reactor in China. This is part of a wider comprehensive programme of cooperation in the nuclear energy sector over the coming decades. This includes serial construction of the latest Russian NPP power units with generation 3+ VVER-1200 reactors at two sites in China (Tianwan and Xudabao NPPs). A package of intergovernmental documents and framework contracts for these projects was signed in 2018 during a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
- Terms and conditions
- Newsletter sign up
- Digital Edition
- Editorial Standards