Jean Antoine Chaptal, count de Chanteloup, a French chemist and statesman, born at No-garet, Lozere, June 5, 1750, died in Paris, July 30, 1832. During his medical studies and practice he devoted much research to the science of chemistry, in which he soon became eminent, and was appointed professor at Mont-pellier, where he taught successfully the doctrines of Black, Lavoisier, and Cavendish. His uncle, a wealthy physician, left him a fortune, with which he established chemical works near Montpellier, being the first attempted of the kind, and by which he was soon enabled to produce various chemicals hitherto imported such as the mineral acids, alum, soda, and salts of lead. The authorities of Languedoc heaped honors on him; the Spanish government ottered him a pension of 56,000 francs to go to Spain; and according to his biographer, Washington wrote three times to Chaptal inviting him to America. After the outbreak of the French revolution he published a political pamphlet, entitled Dialogue entre an M»n-tagnard et un Girondin, and was arrested, but through the intercession of friends was liberated.
The committee of public safety placed him in charge of the saltpetre works of Gre-nelle. Returning to Montpellier, he was elected member of the institute, and devoted himself to science till Bonaparte summoned him to the council of state, where he had the supervision of national education. When Lucien Bonaparte resigned the portfolio of the interior, Chaptal took his place as minister, and retained it for four years. He founded the conservatory, school of arts, and society for encouragement of industry, introduced the modern French system of weights and measures, established a model farm and a system of distribution of agricultural seeds, reorganized the prisons and hospitals, extended the network of highways over the country, and originated the plans of extension of the Louvre and rues de Rivoli and Castiglione, afterward completed by Napoleon III. In the midst of his usefulness a misunderstanding arose between him and Napoleon; some accounts say, because Chaptal refused to report in favor of beet-root over cane sugar, while others assert that it was on account of the actress Mile. Bourgoin, to whom both emperor and minister paid their addresses. A reconciliation afterward took place, and the ex-minister was made count, senator, and grand officer of the legion of honor.
On Napoleon's return from Elba, the count was appointed director general of commerce and manufactures. Louis XVIII. struck him from the list of peers, but left him on the roll of the academy. He was however restored to the chamber of peers in 1819. His works are all on chemical subjects, and may yet be consulted with advantage, especially his Chimie appliquee aux arts (4 vols. 8vo, Paris, 180G), and Chimie appliquee a l'agri-culture (2 vols. 8vo, 1823).