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Fourcroy, Antoine Francois

FOURCROY, ANTOINE FRANCOIS, Comte de (1755-1809), French chemist, the son of an apothecary in the household of the duke of Orleans, was born at Paris on the 15th of June 1755. He took up medical studies by the advice of the anatomist Félix Vicq d'Azyr (1748-1794), and after many difficulties caused by lack of means finally in 1780 obtained his doctor's diploma. His attention was specially turned to chemistry by J.B.M. Bucquet (1746-1780), the professor of chemistry at the Medical School of Paris, and in 1784 he was chosen to succeed P.J. Macquer (1718-1784) as lecturer in chemistry at the college of the Jardin du Roi, where his lectures attained great popularity. He was one of the earliest converts to the views of Lavoisier, which he helped to promulgate by his voluminous writings, but though his name appears on a large number of chemical and also physiological and pathological memoirs, either alone or with others, he was rather a teacher and an organizer than an original investigator. A member of the committees for public instruction and public safety, and later, under Napoleon, director general of instruction, he took a leading part in the establishment of schools for both primary and secondary education, scientific studies being especially provided for. Fourcroy died at Paris on the 16th of December 1809, the very day on which he had been created a count of the French empire. By his conduct as a member of the Convention he has been accused of contributing to the death of Lavoisier. Baron Cuvier in his Eloge historique of Fourcroy repels the charge, but he can scarcely be acquitted of time-serving indifference, if indeed active, though secret, participation be not proved against him.

The Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers enumerates 59 memoirs by Fourcroy himself, and 58 written jointly by him and others, mostly L.N. Vauquelin.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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