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Benjamin Franklin and geology

Dennis R. Dean
Benjamin Franklin and geology (in The revolution in geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, Gary D. Rosenberg (editor))
Memoir - Geological Society of America (2009) 203: 209-223


First as a colonial American, and later as a patriot of outstanding importance, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) maintained a now little-known interest in geological questions. He began as a follower of the English theorists Burnet, Woodward, and Whiston but soon assimilated some of their ideas with original observations and speculations. Though long attentive to earthquakes and their possible causes, Franklin learned from interactions with other naturalists to broaden the range of his theorizing. Eventually, his earth science topics included the origin of springs and rivers, the Flood and the Abyss, natural convulsions of great power, strata and their distortions, the age of Earth, the nature of its core, the origin of mountains, the history of life, and the problem of extinction. Through his championing of American phenomena and thought, he not only contributed to the work of European savants but significantly enhanced our national presence and its prestige. Yet, if remembered in the history of American geology at all, Franklin has received far less attention than his accomplishments and influence deserve. Even those who purport to write on him and science too often neglect his theorizing about Earth. Though Franklin is appropriately remembered as a physicist, inventor, diplomat, author, and printer, we have apparently forgotten that, for more than sixty years, he maintained an active interest in the physical geography, dynamics, and history of our planet. America's longtime intellectual leader in those fields as in others, Franklin was regarded worldwide as a significant geological philosopher.

ISSN: 0072-1069
Serial Title: Memoir - Geological Society of America
Serial Volume: 203
Title: Benjamin Franklin and geology
Title: The revolution in geology from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment
Author(s): Dean, Dennis R.
Author(s): Rosenberg, Gary D.editor
Affiliation: 834 Washington Street, Evanston, IL, United States
Affiliation: Indiana University-Purdue University, Department of Earth Sciences, Indianapolis, IN, United States
Pages: 209-223
Published: 2009
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of America (GSA), Boulder, CO, United States
ISBN: 978-0-8137-1203-1
Meeting name: Geological Society of America, 2006 annual meeting, symposium on From the scientific revolution to the enlightenment; emergence of modern geology and evolutionary thought from the 16th to the 18th century
Meeting location: Philadelphia, PA, USA, United States
Meeting date: 20061022Oct. 22-25, 2006
References: 95
Accession Number: 2009-094473
Categories: Miscellaneous
Document Type: Serial Conference document
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. port.
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute.
Update Code: 200951
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