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Lavoisier

Steven L. Selss
JAMA. 1980;243(2):120. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300280018013.
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ABSTRACT

To the Editor.—  I was pleased to see the small feature honoring the great chemist Lavoisier (241:2730, 1979) and would like to correct a misapprehension while contributing some additional information.Lavoisier served the French government both under the Old Regime and during the Revolution. It is true that Lavoisier was the secretary of the royal government's committee on agriculture as well as being a fermier général, This latter position, however, had nothing to do with agriculture; a fermier général was a tax farmer, a franchised tax collector of the Old Regime. Indiscriminate revolutionary hatred for all holders of this venal post led to the execution of both Lavoisier and his father-in-law. The philanthropic scientist died for the abuses of his fellow tax farmers.Lavoisier previously served the revolutionary government as a commissioner of the treasury, as secretarytreasurer of the commission seeking uniform weights and measures, and as a member of other

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