On October 21, 1778, Congress elected Franklin minister plenipotentiary to France. Before this, he had shared the job of commissioner with Deane and Lee; now he was America's sole representative to France. This new job kept Franklin busy with diplomatic duties, but did not entirely keep him from his other interests. During his hectic schedule he managed to invent bifocal glasses (described in a letter on May 23, 1784) and develop a new way to make lumber last longer by treating it with salt. He also continued his interest in electricity, inventing a new way to test the electrical conductivity of metals. He wrote a number of essays about the aurora borealis (commonly called the Northern Lights). Between his political skill, social celebrity, and intellectual renown, Franklin personally helped to create a powerful friendship between France and America. Franklin dove into the Revolution with gusto. He was idealistic, radical, and energetic.
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