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Hassenfratz, Jean-Henri

Hassenfratz, Jean-Henri

(b. Montmartre [now Paris], France, 27 December 1755; d. Paris, 24 February 1827)

chemistry.

Hassenfratz was the eldest son of Jean Hassenfratz, called Lelièvre, and of Marie-Marguerite Dagommer; his parents ran a well-known tavern. A master carpenter at the beginning of his career, he gave courses in carpentry for five years and then was a surveyor from 1778 to 1780. In 1782 he was named a mining student, first grade, in the Service des Mines and went to central Europe to study the manufacture of steel and the exploitation of mines. In 1785 he became a deputy inspector of mines. Hassenfratz worked in Lavoisier’s laboratory; published, with P. A. Adet, a new chemical notation following the nomenclature of Guyton de Morveau, Lavoisier, Fourcroy, and Berthollet; and taught physics at the École des Mines from 1786 to 1788.

A militant democrat during the Revolution, Hassenfratz was a member of the Society of 1789 and then of the Jacobin Club. By his marriage with Antoinette-Joséphine Terreux he became the brother-in-law of the deputy Baudin des Ardennes. He was for several days a member of the commune of 10 August 1792 and then was director of matériel at the Ministry of War until February 1793. He was again a member of the commune in May 1793 in order to limit the prosecution of the partisans of the Girondins. A collaborator of the Committee of Public Safety, Hassenfratz organized the manufacture of rifles; he later took refuge in Sedan to escape prosecution by the Thermidorians. Renouncing all political activity from the time of the Directory, he taught physics at the Ecole Polytechnique until 1815 and the industrial applications of mineralogy at the Ecole des Mines until 1822. The four volumes of the Sidérotechnie published in 1812 constitute his outstanding publication.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Hassenfratz’s main writings are “Mémoires sur de nouveaux caractères à employer en chimie,” in L. B. Guyton de Morveau, A. L. Lavoisier, C. L. Berthollet, and A. F. de Fourcroy, Méthode de nomenclature chimique (Paris, 1787), pp. 253-287, written with P. A. Adet; and La sidérotechnie, ou l’art de trailer les minerais de fer pour en obtenir de la fonte, du fer ou de l’acier, 4 vols. (Paris, 1812).

He published many letters and memoirs on chemistry and mineralogy in Observations sur la physique prior to 1789 and later in Annales de chimie, Journal des mines, and Journal de l’École polytechnique. The most important are “Lettre sur la matière colorante du bleu de Prusse,” in Observations sur la physique, 28 (1786), 453–455; “Lettre sur la calcination des métaux dans l’air pur et la decomposition de l’eau,” ibid., 29 (1786), 305–306; “Extrait d’un memoire sur la decomposition des pyrites dans les mines,” ibid., 30 (1787), 417–422; “Lettre à M. de la Métherie sur la chimie des pneumatistes,” ibid., 215–218, written with P. A. Adet; “Mémoire sur la combinaison de l’oxigéne avec le carbone et l’hydrogéne du sang, sur la dissolution de l’oxigéne dans le sang, et sur la maniére dont le calorique se dégage,” in Annales de chimie, 9 (1791), 261–274; “Mémoire sur le sel marin, la maniére dont it est répandu sur la surface du globe et les différents précédes employés pour l’obtenir,” ibid., 11 (1791), 65–89; “Explication de quelques phénoménes qui paraissent contrarier les loix des affinités chimiques,” ibid., 13 (1792), 3–24, 25–38; “Rapport sur la séparation de l’antimoine et de sa mine,” in Journal des mines, 9 , no. 54 (1799), 459–471, and Annales de chimie, 31 (1799), 154–158; “Discours sur le cours de physique générale,” in Journal de l’École polytechnique, 6th cahier, 2 (1799), 236–242; “Physique générale. De l’enseignement de cette science,” ibid., 372–408; “Premier mémoire sur les ombres colorées,” ibid., 11th cahier, 4 (1801), 272–283; “Lettre á A. G. Werner,” in Annales de chimie, 49 (1804), 129–149; “Mémoire sur la propagation du son,” ibid., 53 (1805), 64–75, and Journal des mines, 17 , no. 102 (1805), 465–468; “Programme du cours des mines fait à l’École polytechnique (l’année scolaire 1806),” in Journal de l’École polytechnique, 13th cahier, 6 (1806), 345–371; “Mémoire sur les altérations que la lumiére du soleil éprouve en traversant l’atmosphére,” in Annales de chimie, 66 (1808), 54–62; and “Mémoire sur la colorisation des corps,” ibid., 67 (1808), 5–25, 113–150.

II. Secondary Literature. Unpublished sources are Archives de l’Académie des Sciences: letters from Lavoisier to Hassenfratz dated 22 July 1786, 31 Aug. 1788, 13 July 1790; Archives Nationales, F14 27272, Hassenfratz’s dossier; Archives de Paris, register no. 6 of marriages 1793–1802, information on Hassenfratz’s baptism; Bibliothéque de l’Académie Nationale de Medecine, minute books of the Société Royale de Médecine, no. 4 (30 Nov. 1781–14 Oct. 1783) and no. 5 (17 Oct. 1783–7 Mar. 1786); Bibliothéque de l’Institut de France, MS 2396, 2397, the papers of S. F. Lacroix; Bibliothéque Nationale, MS dept., Charavay card index, Fonds Maçonnique, dossiers on the Bon Zéle and Commanders of Mount Tabor lodges; Ministére de l’Industrie, Direction des Mines, registers of the proceedings of the Conseil Général des Mines; and Musée de la Monnaie, a letter from Balthazar Sage to Hassenfratz dated 20 July 1779.

Published sources of information are Charles Ballot, “Procés-verbaux du Bureau de consultation des arts et métiers,” in Bulletin d’histoire economique de la Révolution (1913), 15–160; A. Birembaut, “La réintégration de Hassenfratz dans le corps des mines,” in Annales historiques de la Révolution française, no. 173 (1963), 363–364; Gustave Laurent, “Un memoire historique du chimiste Hassenfratz,” ibid., 1 (1924), 163–164; and Claude-Antoine Prieur-Duvernois, Quelques vérités sur un proscrit qui, mieux connu, doit cesser de l’etre (Paris, 1795), published anonymously.

Arthur Birembaut

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