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Jean-Baptiste Reveillon

This modest tablet-style gravestone marks the final resting place of the man whose actions, some say, led to the flash point that ultimately resulted in the French Revolution. Jean-Baptiste Reveillon was born in Paris and, after apprenticing as a tradesman and haberdasher, transitioned to a wallpaper hanger and importer of flock wallpaper from England. Seeing a growing acceptance of wallpaper among the bourgeoisie he used money from his wife’s dowry and started a wallpaper-manufacturing business. By all accounts his business was wildly successful. When nobles began buying his wallpapers, he grew wealthy. So much so that at age 40 he bought an enormous mansion and surrounding grounds and built a factory on the ground floor of the mansion, with his palatial residence above. Everything was going splendidly for Reveillon. In 1775 he opened his one paper mill. Queen Marie-Antoinette used his papier bleu d’Angleterre to decorate her apartments, making the paper oh-so desirable to royal watchers. His wallpaper was even used to decorate hot-air balloons. Seeing a fabulous marketing opportunity, he launched his own balloon, Le Reveillon.

Then the man who could seemingly make no mistakes made an error in judgment that helped spark a revolution. In early 1789, Reveillon was writing some casual musings about the price of bread, saying that it should be deregulated, which would lower manufacturing costs and increase consumption. Somewhere in his musings he misstated (or was misinterpreted) that lowered costs would result from lower wages. The statement lower wages didn’t sit well with a populace that was already feeling an economic pinch, and Jean-Baptiste Reveillon and his company became a target for their pent-up anger. On April 28, 1789 the populace’s anger could no longer be contained. An angry mob stormed his mansion and factory, looted what they could and set the mansion ablaze. Not only was the crowd fueled by anger, they were also fueled by the 2,000 bottles of wine in his wine cellar, which they readily consumed. What became known as the Reveillon Riot was eventually quelled after 25 people were killed. But eleven weeks later, the growing unrest hit a boiling point, and on July 14, 1789 an angry crowd stormed the Bastille, triggering the French Revolution.

Science in the Colonies As Europeans established permanent settlements in the New World, the institutions and practices of European intellectual life went with them. Pittsburgh Metro Map Institutions such as the University of Mexico City or Harvard University mostly taught an Aristotelian curriculum, adapting to new intellectual currents with some time lag relative to Europe. But colonial institutions and groups could never compete with their counterparts in Europe as generators of new knowledge.

English science in the New World differed from French and Spanish in not being state-sponsored. Much English science, Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia being the most notable example, was produced by individuals or groups hoping to promote colonization. As such, it had a promotional aspect. What intensified English science in the Countrys was the founding in 1660 of the Royal Society for the promotion of natural knowledge a London-based organization with state sponsorship but financial and organizational independence. The first colonial admitted was John Winthrop, Jr. who was visiting London at the time. Winthrop was a practitioner of medicine and alchemy, and he brought the first telescope to New England. Over the period from 1660 to 1783, fifty-three colonials would be admitted as fellows (although twenty were colonial governors admitted primarily for their political prominence), and over 260 letters from colonials were published in the Royal Society’s journal Philosophical Transactions.

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