How is "Franklin's Law" regarding the conservation of electric charge important in U.S. history?

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the United States of America’s Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin’s contributions to history included his experimentation into the origins and nature of electricity.  Well before he and the other Founders decided on a course of action that led to the American Revolution, Franklin was fascinated with science.  An avid reader, one of the documents he perused during the 1740s was an article about electricity and experiments being conducted in Germany.  Inspired by that article, he began vigorously pursuing knowledge about electricity.  Among his early discoveries with respect to electricity was the concept of the charge, which he identified through his kite experiments during thunderstorms.  Among the conclusions of what became known as “Franklin’s Trial Law of Electrostatics,” or, simply, “Franklin’s law,” was that electrified objects carried a “charge” which explained the reaction of the fibers on the string he used to connect a kite to a measuring device.  What Franklin concluded from these experiments was that electrical charges are mobile and transfer among objects that come into contact. 

Franklin’s discoveries about electricity were important not just to the British colonies (establishment of the United States still being some years hence), but to the world.  His notes on his experiments and observations were published in England, from where they were eventually read by French scientists similarly studying electricity.  Those notes provided the scientific basis for the development of electricity as a source of energy, a vital scientific advancement that would lead to the early use of electricity in the newly-established United States.