Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Canton, 15 August 1771

To John Canton

ALS: the Royal Society

Augt. 15. 71

Dear Sir,

I have just received the enclos’d from Dr. Priestly. And as it contains an Account of a new Discovery of his, which is very curious, and, if it holds, will open a new Field of Knowledge, I send it to you immediately.7 Please to communicate it to Dr. Price when he returns. I am just about taking a Trip for a few Weeks to Ireland. I hope I shall find you well at my Return. I am, with great Esteem, Dear Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

Addressed: To / Mr Canton / at the Academy / Spital Square / Bps. Gate Street

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7The enclosure, which has not survived, was Priestley’s account of his experiments on restoring air that had been breathed or otherwise rendered noxious with carbon dioxide, experiments that began his investigation of the photosynthetic process. See Schofield, Scientific Autobiography, pp. 86–7, and the headnote on BF to Priestley below, under the end of July, 1772.The account became part of Priestley’s “Observations on Different Kinds of Air,” Phil. Trans., LXII (1772), 147–264, which finally won him the Royal Society’s Copley Medal in 1773. See Douglas McKie, “Joseph Priestley and the Copley Medal,” Ambix, IX (1961), 1–22; Henry Guerlac, “Joseph Priestley’s First Papers on Gases and Their Reception in France,” Jour. of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, XII (1957), 1–12.

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