French Revolution

Jacques Necker and the Finances of France

Jacques Necker and the Finances of France

On September 30, 1732, Swiss banker, French statesman and finance minister for Louis XVI Jacques Necker was born. Necker helped make decisions that were critical in creating political and social conditions that contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. In 1780, Necker published the Compte rendu au roi, in which he summarized governmental income and expenditures to provide the first record of royal finances ever made public. “Only fools, pure…
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Jean Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

Jean Bailly and the Orbit of Halley’s Comet

On September 15, 1736, French astronomer, mathematician, freemason, and political leader of the early part of the French Revolution Jean Sylvain Bailly was born. Bailly computed an orbit for Halley’s Comet (1759) and studied the four satellites of Jupiter then known. He was the first Mayor of Paris and presided over the Tennis Court Oath. “The motion of the stars calculated by the Hindus some 4500 years before vary not even a single…
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Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

Jean-Antoine Chaptal and the Industrial Chemistry

On June 5, 1756, French chemist, physician, agronomist, industrialist, statesman, educator and philanthropist Jean-Antoine Chaptal, comte de Chanteloup was born. Chaptal authored the first book on industrial chemistry and also coined the name nitrogen. He was the first to produce sulphuric acid commercially in France at his factory at Montpellier and helped to organize the introduction of the metric system. Jean-Antoine Chaptal – Early Years Jean-Antoine Chaptal was born in Nojaret (Lozère) in…
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Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

Joseph-Ignace Guillotin’s Opposition to the Death Penalty

On May 28, 1738, French physician Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was born. Guillotin is best known for his proposition of the use of a device to carry out death penalties in France, as a less painful method of execution. While he did not invent the guillotine, and in fact opposed the death penalty, his name became an eponym for it. The actual inventor of the prototype was Antoine Louis. “The guillotine is a machine…
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Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

Nicolas de Condorcet and the Condorcet method

On March 28, 1794, French philosopher, mathematician, and early political scientist Nicolas de Condorcet died a mysterious death in prison after a period of flight from French Revolutionary authorities. He is probably best known for the Condorcet method, which in voting tally selects the candidate who would beat each of the other candidates in a run-off election. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he advocated a liberal economy, free and equal public instruction, constitutionalism,…
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Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot and the Automobile

Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot and the Automobile

On September 25, 1725, French inventor Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot was born. He is known to have built the first working self-propelled mechanical vehicle, the world’s first automobile. Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot’s Self Driving Vehicle Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot was born in Void-Vacon, Lorraine in 1725 and was trained as a military engineer. Cugnot was commissioned by the French War Ministry to develop a means of transport for the artillery. The steam engine based transport car developed by…
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From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world – The Battle of Valmy

From this place, and from this day forth begins a new era in the history of the world – The Battle of Valmy

On September 20, 1792, the Battle of Valmy was fought. It was the first major victory by the army of France during the Revolutionary Wars that followed the French Revolution. Although being a small and localized victory, Valmy became a huge psychological victory for the Revolution at large. Overall, it permitted the development of the French Revolution and all its resultant ripple effects, and for that it is regarded as one of…
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Jacques-Louis Davids History Paintings

Jacques-Louis Davids History Paintings

On August 30, 1748, influential French painter in the Neoclassical style Jacques-Louis David was born. He is considered to be the preeminent painter of the era. In the 1780s his cerebral brand of history painting marked a change in taste away from Rococo frivolity toward a classical austerity and severity. Early years David was born in the year when new excavations at the ash-buried ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum were beginning to…
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Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and the Evolution

On August 1, 1744, French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was born. Lamarck was an early proponent of the idea that evolution occurred and proceeded in accordance with natural laws. He gave the term biology a broader meaning by coining the term for special sciences, chemistry, meteorology, geology, and botany-zoology. “Do we not therefore perceive that by the action of the laws of organization . . . nature has in favorable times, places, and climates multiplied…
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Charles Augustin de Coulomb and the Electrostatic Force

Charles Augustin de Coulomb and the Electrostatic Force

On June 14, 1736, French physicist Charles Augustin de Coulomb was born. He is best known for developing Coulomb’s law, the definition of the electrostatic force of attraction and repulsion, but also did important work on friction. The SI unit of electric charge, the coulomb, was named after him. Charles Augustin de Coulomb received a good education in mathematics, astronomy, chemistry and botany since both sides of his family were respected and quite wealthy…
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