Chemist. Born the son of a wealthy Parisian lawyer, he was educated at the College des Quatre Nations. He completed a law degree in accordance with family wishes, but his real interest was in science, he was elected into the Royal Academy of Science in 1768. That same year; he joined the Ferme Générale, a private company that collected taxes and tariffs for the government. In 1771, he married Marie-Anne Pierette Paulze, the daughter of a co-owner of the Ferme, and she immediately became her husband's scientific collaborator. In 1775, he was appointed a commissioner of the Royal Gunpowder and Saltpeter Administration. He succeeded in producing better gunpowder by ensuring the purity of the ingredients, as well as by improving the methods of granulating the powder. Among his contributions to chemistry were the understanding of combustion and respiration as caused by chemical reactions with oxygen. He recognized and named oxygen in 1778. He stated the first version of the Law of Conservation of Matter. He also discovered the flammable gas which he named hydrogen. A political and social liberal, Lavoisier took part many reform movements and was active in the early days of the French Revolution. He drew up plans and reports advocating the establishment of the metric system of weights and measures, he proposed tax reforms and new economic strategies; he explored hospitals and prisons of Paris and recommended remedies for their problems. Under the Reign of Terror, despite his eminence and his services to science and France, he came under attack as a former Ferme Générale. In November 1793, all former members of the Ferme Générale, including Lavoisier and his father-in-law, were arrested and imprisoned. After a trial that lasted less than a day, they were all found guilty of conspiracy against the people of France and condemned. When Lavoisier requested time to complete some scientific work, the presiding judge was said to have answered, "The Republic has no need of scientists." He was guillotined and his body thrown in a common grave in the Cimetière de Picpus. Mathematician Joseph Louis Lagrange lamented, "It took them only an instant to cut off that head, but France may not produce another like it in a century." About eighteen months following his death, he was exonerated by the French government. When his belongings were delivered to his widow, a brief note was included reading, "To the widow of Lavoisier, who was falsely convicted." He has been called the father of modern chemistry.
Bio by: Iola
Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze de Lavoisier
1758–1836 (m. 1771)