Nebraska Academy of Sciences


Date of this Version



1991. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, XVIII: 173-177. Copyright © 1991 Throckmorton.


Benjamin Franklin wrote an essay in 1751 that he hoped would help to change the conduct of England toward its North American colonies. In the essay, Franklin made the observation that the colonies were doubling their population every 25 years to illustrate the rapid growth of the colonies compared with that of England. Thomas Malthus discovered Benjamin Franklin's essay shortly after the publication of his own essay on population in 1798. He considered Franklin's data to be proof of his own theory of how populations grow and credited Franklin in the five later editions of his essay. Charles Darwin, in turn, credits Malthus with the inspiration of natural selection- how nature could select some that are born and eliminate others-for it is reading the 1826 edition of Reverend Malthus' essay that gave Charles Darwin the clue which led to what has come to be called "natural selection." These remarkable events are a footnote in the history of science between 1750 and 1858 when "Origin of Species" was published.

Included in

Life Sciences Commons