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Antoine Lavoisier was murdered on the guillotine

Posted in Historical articles, History, Revolution, Science on Thursday, 20 December 2012

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This edited article about Antoine Lavoisier originally appeared in Look and Learn issue number 800 published on 14th May 1977.

Antoine Lavoisier, picture, image, illustration

Antoine Lavoisier

The execution of Antoine Lavoisier was carried out on 8th May 1794.

His crime was that, in reorganising agricultural methods, he had worked hand in hand with the landowners of the old regime. The revolutionaries were determined that everything connected with this should be swept away.

Born in Paris on 26th August, 1743, Lavoisier grew up with the idea of becoming a scientist. While he was still a student, he won a prize for an essay on the best way to light the streets of his city.

A greater triumph came in 1786, when he was appointed to the post of Chemical Assistant to the French Academy. This meant that he could devote all his time to research in chemistry and physics.

Lavoisier gave the name “oxygen” to a gas that particularly interested him, and carried out many experiments concerning the behaviour of gases. Probably most important of all, he founded the modern theory of chemical elements.

He was given the job of organising public health and improving methods of agriculture. He came under suspicion when the revolution broke out, and in 1792 he was relieved of his office. He continued his private experiments, however, until he was arrested and brought to trial – for serving his country too well.

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