The first major American scientific work came from one of the nation's founding fathers, a printer, almanac creator, diplomat, and just about everything else important in a young land. This, of course, would be Benjamin Franklin. From the scientific side, he is best known for his experiments with electricity, including the kite and key in a thunderstorm, which proved that lightening was electricity. The discovery led to his invention of the lightening rod. Item 21 is Experiments and Observations on Electricity, Made at Philadelphia in America, by Mr. Benjamin Franklin, and Communicated in Several Letters to Mr. P. Collinson... Franklin had sent a copy of his findings to Peter Collinson, a friend and fellow scientist in London, who was so excited by the discoveries that he published them in this 1751 edition without seeking Franklin's permission. Supplementary material would be published a few years later with Franklin's approval. This first edition was rated a “b.” $67,500.
Item 97 is a long-titled book, that we will shorten to: The History of Oregon...Embracing an Analysis of the Old Spanish Claims, the British Pretensions, the United States Title...and a Thorough Examination of the Project of a National Rail Road, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. Author George Wilkes' work was no great literary achievement, and yet it is a very important book for several reasons. Published in 1845, it is one of only two books describing the emigration to Oregon in 1843. However, there is no indication that Wilkes, who was a New York newspaperman, ever made the journey west that early. What it includes is the account of Peter H. Burnett, who did. Another important aspect of this book is that it was the first call for the building of a Pacific Railroad, one that would enable trains to run all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Wilkes was concerned with more than just transportation in his advocacy. The British still had claims in for Oregon, and the Spanish controlled California. Wilkes believed this should all be part of America, and felt a railway would cement American authority. An ardent supporter of the concept of Manifest Destiny, Wilkes writes, “The Railroad is the GREAT NEGOTIATOR, which alone can settle our title more conclusively than all the diplomatists in the world... Arouse then, America, and obey the mandate which Destiny has imposed upon you for the redemption of the world!” This is a Howes “c.” $12,500.