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Draper, Professor John William (1811-1882)

"A divine revelation must necessarily be intolerant of contradiction; it must repudiate all improvement in itself, and view with disdain that arising from the progressive intellectual development of man."

"The history of science is not a mere record of isolated discoveries; it is a narrative of the conflict of two contending powers, the expansive force of the human intellect on one side, and the compression arising from traditionary faith and human interest on the other."

"How is it that the Church produced no geometer in her autocratic reign of twelve hundred years?"

-- John William Draper


John William Draper was a U.S. (English-born) chemist, historian and photographer. He served as the first president of American Chemical Society between 1876 and 1877. He was the father of Henry Draper.

He studied at Woodhouse Grove, at the University of London, and, after removing to America in 1832, at the medical school of the University of Pennsylvania from 1835 to 1836. In 1837 he was elected professor of chemistry in the University of the City of New York, and was a professor in its school of medicine from 1840 to 1850, president of that school from 1850 to 1873, and professor of chemistry until 1881.

He did important research in photochemistry, made portrait photography possible by his improvements (1839) on Daguerre's process, and published a textbook on Chemistry (1846), textbook on Natural Philosophy (1847), textbook on Physiology (1866), and Scientific Memoirs (1878) on radiant energy. He was also the first person to take an astrophotograph; he took a photo of the Moon in 1840.

Contributions to the discipline of history: He is well known also as the author of The History of the Intellectual Development of Europe (1862), applying the methods of physical science to history, a History of the American Civil War (3 vols., 1867-1870), and a History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874). The last book listed is among the most influential works on the conflict thesis, which takes its name from Draper's title.

 
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