April 21, 2003
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I've been reading a fascinating biography of Benjamin Franklin, whom H.W. Brands argues to have been The First American. What we often forget, between the politics and the color commentary, is how important Franklin's science was. He was, quite probably, the leading scientist of his generation -- the first colonial to return to Europe as a leading scholar. In addition to vital work on the nature of electricity, he discovered the Gulf Stream, lead poisoning, and a great deal more. In books....