Ben Flies a Kite

Today in History, June 10: 1752 – Long before he was one of our Founding Fathers, Ben Franklin was a successful businessman, and due to early financial security, had the time for his passion as a scientist and inventor. 

Through the 1740’s he experimented with electricity, one of his inventions being the lightning rod to protect buildings and ships, still in use today. 

On this day he performed his famous experiment of flying a kite with a key attached which connected to a Leyden Jar to prove lightning conducted electicity. 

Pioneers in Amusement, Electricity & Abuse


Today in History, January 4: 1903 – Captured as a child in Southeast Asia, then smuggled to America and sold into slavery. Ironically named after a character from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, Topsy was forced to perform for crowds in a circus. On one occasion, a drunken spectator found his way into her tent and tormented her…teased her and burned her with his cigar…and ended up dead when she defended herself. Her owners took the opportunity to label her as a killer as advertising. When another incident occurred, they sold her to a menagerie at Coney Island. Her trainer, also a drunk, stuck her with a pitchfork while trying to make her work and was confronted by a police officer who objected (damned cops). The trainer, in anger, set her loose to rampage through Coney Island and later rode her to the police station to batter at the entrance. Through the fault of her captors, Topsy had by now gained such a bad reputation that she couldn’t even be given away. So her captors made even more money…advertising her execution. On this date, monitored by the ASPCA, she was fed poisoned carrots, then wired up and electrocuted by the Edison Electric Company (who also filmed the video below to commemorate the event). To make sure she was dead, ropes pulled by steam engines then strangled Topsy the elephant for 10 minutes. Ain’t we proud?