Abbé Guillaume Thomas François Raynal

Abbé Guillaume Thomas François Raynal

Raynal, Guillaume Thomas François, Abbé, 1713-96, French historian and philosopher. Raynal was a priest, but he was dismissed from his parish in Paris; he then turned to writing and sought the society and collaboration of the philosophes. Two historical works, one on the Netherlands (1747) and one on the English Parliament (1748), established his career. His most important work, completed with the assistance of Denis Diderot, was a six-volume history of the European colonies in the Indies and Americas (1770). It was condemned by the Parlement of Paris (1781) for impiety and its dangerous ideas on the right of the people to revolt and to give or withhold consent to taxation. Nevertheless, the History was extremely popular, going through 30 editions between 1772 and 1789; the radical tone becoming more pronounced in later editions. Placed on the Index of the Roman Catholic Church in 1774, Raynal's book was burned and he was forced into exile in 1781. Allowed to return to France, but not Paris, in 1784; his Parisian banishment was rescinded in 1790. Elected to the States General in 1789, he refused to serve and later advocated a constitutional monarchy.
Thomas-François Dalibard was born in Crannes-en-Champagne, France in 1709 and died in 1799.

Relationship with Ben Franklin

He first met U.S. scientist Benjamin Franklin in 1776 during one of Franklin's visits to France and it is said that they became friends.

In 1750, Benjamin Franklin published a proposal for an experiment to determine if lightning was electricity. He proposed extending a conductor into a cloud that appeared to have the potential to become a thunderstorm. If electricity existed in the cloud, the conductor could be used to extract it.

Experiments with electricity

Dalibard translated Franklin's proposal into French and in May of 1752 he performed an experiment using a 40-foot-tall metal rod at Marly-la-Ville. It is said that Dalibard used wine bottles to ground the pole, and he successfully extracted electricity from a low cloud. Around a month later, in June 1752, unaware of Dalibard's work, Franklin also extracted electricity from a cloud in his famous kite experiment. It was found later, by a descendant of Dalibard, that his findings were in fact published later than Franklin's.

Dalibard was the author of Florae Parisiensis Prodromus, ou catalogue des plantes qui naissent dans les environs de Paris (Paris, 1749).

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