Archive for June 10th, 2012

Go Fly a Kite

June 10, 2012

Ben Franklin’s Experiment — June 10, 1752


On this day in 1752, Benjamin Franklin flies a kite during a thunderstorm and collects a charge in a Leyden jar when the kite is struck by lightning, enabling him to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning. Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s, a time when much was still unknown on the topic, and spent almost a decade conducting electrical experiments. He coined a number of terms used today, including battery, conductor and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, used to protect buildings and ships.

Image from NOAA History – The Kite Stations

Kite flying like a great many other sports is fast becoming of practical use. The Boston Advertiser says that a number of scientific men have turned to the kite as an economical means of taking meteorological observations, which may prove of great benefit to science, by securing an accurate and constant record of the conditions of the atmosphere at altitudes where observations have already been taken. For example during a recent kite ascension at Blue Hill, a maximum height of nearly 9,400 feet was attained, while a meteorgraph record was kept of the atmospheric conditions for more than three hours about a mile from earth. If such records were constantly obtained, the science of forecasting the weather might prove to be much benefited.

Image from Illuminating Lake County, Illinois History – George Lawrence Photographer

The work of the photographing from kites has already been tried in this vicinity with much success. This has led to an interesting experiment by the war department with an idea of utilizing the modern kite for military purposes. In an experiment at Governor’s Island in New York harbor last week, a large kite was sent up bearing a dummy soldier. It is understood that is was so successful that within a few weeks a real soldier will be sent up in the air in one of these kites, to show the feasibility of substituting the modern kite for the war baloon.

Image from Wikipedia

The use of war baloons in Europe has now become general in the military departments of the continent. These baloons are sent up for the purpose of keeping watch upon the movements of an opposing army The test made by the United States was department, however, seems to show that kites can be employed for the same purpose with about the same success. It is still possible that the modern kite will supplant the balloon for this purpose of taking observations from a considerable altitude, for both as regards convenience, and as regards economy, the kite seems to be preferable to the baloon for such purpose.

Austin Daily Herald (Austin, Minnesota) Nov 7, 1896

Kite flying seems to be becoming almost as popular in Maine as in China, judging by the newspaper reports. But the meanest of all kite flying tracks was that of a New Orleans man, who sent up one at Cooper’s Beach, near Rockland, the other day, with its tail decorated with sharp pieces of assorted glass which cut the strings of the other flyers, and caused a shower of kites that for a time was incomprehensible to their owners.

Bangor Daily Whig and  Courier (Bangor, Maine) Sep 4, 1897

Image from Hargrave – The Noble Inventor


Temperature Taken at a Height of 2,973 Feet.

Bayonne, N.J., Nov. 9 — Kite flyers Eddy, Hotchkiss, Allen and Mitchell sent a self registering thermometer to a height of 2,937 feet yesterday. Dr. Eddy says that this was the highest altitude ever reached by a thermometer at Bayonne and the highest ever made without the use of piano wire as the kite line.

Five other ascensions followed during the day, and it was found that it was abnormally warmer aloft. In one instance, at a height of 1,505 feet, the temperature was found to be 63 degrees, both aloft and at the earth.

According to previous kite records the observations indicate warm weather. Triangulations were made with a 600-foot base line and two angles. The wind was very strong from the south. It was two degrees cooler at a height of 2,973 feet than on the ground.

The Arizona Republican (Phoenix, Arizona) Nov 10, 1897


CHICAGO, (UP) — Kite-flying has entered the ranks of dangerous pastimes the National Safety Council reported.

A number of fatalities to children flying kites were recorded during the last year, the council said.

Most of the deaths were due to electric shock caused by kite wires or wet strings falling across high tension wires. Other children were killed by cars while flying kites in the streets.

Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Mar 8, 1931

Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, New Mexico) Mar 14, 1933

A Sharp’s Rifle Sermon

June 10, 2012

Image from NPS – Firearms Used At Fort Smith

A Sharp’s Rifle Sermon.

The Albany Statesman has the following letter from the “Rev. Dr. Screecher” to his friend and brother, “Horace Steely,” dated at the “Parsonage of Church of Holy Rifles.”

Horace Greeley image from Mr. Lincoln and New York

MY DEAR BROTHER: — I preached last Sunday, with great acceptance, from the text “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” The house was full, and I had a good time. Much additional interest was thrown around the service from the fact that a large company of freedom-shriekers, on their way to Kanzas, were present. I combatted the old fashioned notions, and, I think, successfully, that the religion of the New Testament was to bring peace on earth and good will to men. I showed the fallacy of all those teachings of the Apostles which speak of rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s — of being subject to the higher powers, because they were ordained of God, &c., &c. I admitted that there was a time when these injunctions were imperative and binding; but I proved, and, I think, clearly, that theology, like all other sciences, is progressive, and that steam engines and Sharp’s rifles are now the true Evangels. In conformity with this position, I assume that the word translated “preach” should be rendered “shoot,” so that the text, as in my version, would read: “Go ye into all the world and shoot the gospel (from Sharp’s rifles) at every creature.” The more I reflect upon the subject the more I am persuaded that this is the true mode of gospel propagandism.

With Sharp’s rifles, and the bible for wadding, scripture truth can be sent directly home to the hearts of the people, and be inwardly digested by them.

Brother Kill’em (glorious name, how I love it!) has sent one of these missionaries to Kanzas, and many others among the meek and lowly disciples are following his example. The thing takes wonderfully, and it is a capital hit for the Screecher family. My dear brother, it would have done your heart good to have witnessed those Kanzasians listening to the truth as it is in Screecher. With many of them you are acquainted. They have passed through all the phases of Fourierism, Socialism and Free-Loveism up to the sublime heights of Rifleism. —

With their long hair, slouched hats and blouses, they were the true-ideals of the Tribune office. But it is not alone for propagaing the gospel in Kanzas that my people are becoming distinguished. I notice that one member of my church has bet one thousand dollars that he will find and kill the man who three vitriol on his child’s dress for a few days since. —

Thus the work goes on: Let us persevere, and the time will soon come when rifles and bowie-knives will supercede the necessity for Bible truth and Gospel preaching.

Fraternally yours,


Allen County Democrat (Lima, Ohio) May 24, 1856

From United States History — Bleeding Kansas:

The abolitionist preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, collected funds to arm like-minded settlers (the precision rifles were known as “Beecher’s Bibles”). Fewer Southerners showed interest in settling in Kansas, but proslavery communities were formed at Leavenworth and Atchison.