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Chaptal, Jean Antoine Claude, Count De Chanteloup (1756-1832)
"The universe displays no proof of an all-directing mind."

"Religion is an illusion of childhood, outgrown under proper education."

"All good intellects have repeated since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but that which is based on observed facts."

-- Chaptal


Jean-Antoine Claude, comte Chaptal de Chanteloup, French chemist and statesman, was born at Nogaret, Lozère. The son of an apothecary, he studied chemistry at Montpellier, obtaining his doctor's diploma in 1777, when he repaired to Paris. In 1781 the States of Languedoc founded a chair of chemistry for him at the school of medicine in Montpellier, where he taught the doctrines of Lavoisier. The capital he acquired by the death of a wealthy uncle he employed in the establishment of chemical works for the manufacture of the mineral acids, alum, white-lead, soda and other substances.

His labors in the cause of applied science were at length recognized by the French government, which presented him with letters of nobility, and the cordon of the order of Saint Michel. During the Revolution a publication by Chaptal, entitled Dialogue entre un montagnard et un girondin, caused him to be arrested; but being speedily set at liberty through the intermission of his friends, he undertook, in 1793, the management of the saltpetre works at Grenelle. In the following year he went to Montpellier, where he remained till 1797, when he returned to Paris.

After the coup d'état of the 18th of Brumaire (November 9, 1799) he was made a councillor of state by the First Consul, and succeeded Lucien Bonaparte as minister of the interior, in which capacity he established a chemical manufactory near Paris, a school of arts, and a society of industries; he also reorganized the hospitals, introduced the metrical system of weights and measures, and otherwise greatly encouraged the arts and sciences. A misunderstanding between him and Napoleon (who conferred upon him the title of comte de Chantelout) occasioned Chaptal's retirement from office in 1804; but before the end of that year he was again received into favor by the emperor, who bestowed on him the grand cross of the Legion of Honor, and made him treasurer to the conservative senate.

On Napoleon's return from Elba, Chaptal was made director-general of commerce and manufactures and a minister of state. He was obliged after the downfall of the emperor to withdraw into private life; and his name was removed from the list of the peers of France until 1819. In 1816, however, he was nominated a member of the Academy of Sciences by Louis XVIII, Chaptal was especially a popularizer of science, attempting to apply to industry and agriculture the discoveries of chemistry. In this way he contributed largely to the development of modern industry, he died at Paris on the 30th of July 1832.

The process of adding sugar to unfermented wine in order to increase the final alcohol level after fermentation is known as chaptalization after him.

His literary works exhibit both vigour and perspicuity of style; he wrote, in addition to various articles, especially in the Annales de chimie:

Élémens de Chymie (3 vols., 1790; new ed., 1796-1803)
Traité du salpétre et des goudrons (1796)
Tableau des principaux sels terreux (1798)
Essai sur le perfectionnement des arts chimiques en France (1800)
Art de faire, de gouverner, et de perfectionner les vins (1 vol., 1801; new ed,, 1819)
Traité théorsque et pratique sur Ia culture de Ia vigne, &c. (2 vols., 1801; new ed., 1811)
Essai sur le blanchiment (1801)
La Chimie appliquée aux arts (4 vols., 1806)
Art de la peinture du coton en rouge (1807)
Art du peinturier et du digraisseur (1800)
De l'industrie française (2 vols., 1819)
Chimie appliquée à l'Agriculture (2 vols., 1823; new ed., 1829).

 
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