Original Document
Original Document
Benjamin Franklin tries to electrocute a turkey, December 25, 1750. [Excerpt]

I have lately made an Experiment in Electricity that I desire never to repeat. Two nights ago being about to kill a Turkey by the Shock from two large Glass Jarrs containing as much electrical fire as forty common Phials, I inadvertently took the whole thro' my own Arms and Body, be receiving the fire from the united top wires by one hand, while the other held a chain connected with the outside of both jars.

The Company present (whose talking to me, and to one another I suppose occasioned my Inattention to what I was about) Say that the flash was very great and the crack as loud as a Pistol; yet my Senses being instantly gone, I neither Saw the one nor hear the other; nor did I feel the Stroke on my hand, tho' I afterwards found it raised a round swelling where the fire enter'd as big as half a Pistol Bullet by which you may judge of the Quickness of the Electrical Fire.

I then felt what I know not how well to describe; as universal Blow thro'out my whole Body from head to foot which seem'd within as well as without; after which the first thing I took notice of was a violent quick Shaking of my body which gradually remitting, my sense as gradually return'd, and then I tho't the Bottles must be discharged but Could not conceive how, till att last I Perceived the Chain in my hand, and Recollected what I had been About to do: that part of my hand and fingers which held the Chain was left white as tho' the Blood had been Driven Out, and Remained so 8 or 10 Minutes After, feeling like Dead flesh, and I had a Numbness in my Arms and the back of my Neck, which Continued till the Next Morning but wore off. Nothing Remains now of this Shock but a Soreness in my breast Bone, which feels As if it had been Brused. I Did not fall, but Suppose I should have been Knocked Down if I had Received the Stroke in my head: the whole was Over in less than a minute.

Credit: Benjamin Franklin's letter to his brother John Franklin, December 25, 1750. Original housed in Winthrop Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
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