French scientists beat Ben Franklin to electricty.
That's the opinion of I. Bernard Cohen, assistant professor of General Education, who declared yesterday that three French scientists were actually the first to prove that lightning is electrical.
But Ben salvaged something in Cohen's estimate. For the French were following an opinion which Franklin had already proposed in a book, but had not yet been proven.
According to Cohen's address before the American Philosophical Association in Philadelphia, the French scientists proved a month before Franklin that lightning consisted of electricity.
American historians have largely ignored the French triumph, Cohen said, "not because they are purposely excluding it, but simply because they are ignorant of it."