Chaptal, Jean Antoine
CHAPTAL, JEAN ANTOINE (1756-1832), count of Chanteloup, an eminent French chemist and statesman, born at Nogaret, Lozere, 4th June 1756. At Montpellier, where he first studied chemistry, he obtained 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 with success the doctrines of Lavoisier, in opposition to those of Stahl. The capital he acquired by the death of a wealthy uncle he employed in the establishment of chemical works for the manufacture of mineral acids, alum, white-lead, soda, and other substances. His labours 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. A publication by Chaptal, entitled Dialogue entre un Montagnard et ?in 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 revolution of the 18th of Brumaire (9th November 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 occasioned Chaptal's retirement from office in 1804 ; but before the end of that year he was again received into favour by the emperor, who bestowed on him the grand cross of the legion of honour, 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 for a time removed from the list of the peers of France. In 1816, however, he was nominated a member of the Academy of Sciences by Louis XVIII. Notwithstanding the many vicissitudes of fortune which he underwent, Chaptal continued to promote the interests of science until his death, which took place at Paris, 30th July 1832.
His literary works exhibit both vigour and perspicuity of style ; he wrote, in addition to various articles for chemical journals, Elemens de Chimie, 3 vols. 8vo, 1790 ; Traite sur le Salpetre, 8vo, 1796 ; Essai sur le Perfeetionnement des Arts Chimfgues en France, 8vo, 1800 ; Art de faire, de gouverner, et de perfeetionner les Vine, sur le Sucre de Betterares, 8vo; Chimie applignec a l'Agrieulture,