Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from the Abbé Rochon, [after 27 October 1780]

From the Abbé Rochon

AL: American Philosophical Society

[after October 27, 1780]2

Mr. L’Abbé Rochon est prié instament de demander à Mr. Franklin, si l’Eclipse du Soleil vue totale à Penobscot a été observée à New-York ou à New-Cambrige, dont nous ignorons icy les observations à la Reserve de celle de Penobscot qui seule â été envoyée à l’Academie.

On a besoin de celles de New Cambrige ou de New-York.3

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2On Oct. 9, the newly formed American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in conjunction with Harvard College, launched a scientific expedition to Penobscot Bay to view the total eclipse of the sun predicted for Oct. 27. Headed by mathematics professor Samuel Williams and sailing in a vessel provided by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the delegation set up an observation station on Long-Island in Penobscot Bay, working under the constraints imposed by the occupying British troops. The weather being fair on Oct. 27, Williams succeeded in gathering detailed data. His observations were eventually published in the Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, I (Boston, 1785), pp. 86–102; the Academy most likely sent a version of this paper to the Académie des sciences shortly after it was written. For Williams see Sibley’s Harvard Graduates, XV, 134–46.

3The American Academy’s first volume of Memoirs also contained several other reports of the eclipse. One was indeed from Cambridge, but the southern-most set of observations came from Providence. We have no evidence that BF ever received any of these while he was in France.

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