Saturday, November 9, 2019

John Le Conte 1818-1891

John Le Conte was born on a plantation in Liberty county, Georgia, December 4, 1818.

His earliest American ancestor, Guillaume Le Conte, left his native city of Rouen soon after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, 1685, and in consequence thereof, and after a brief stay in Holland and in England, came to America and settled in the vicinity of New York.

His early education, received at a neighborhood school, supported by four or five families, was irregular and desultory in the extreme, the teachers, as was common at that time in country schools at the South, changing almost every year.

He attended Franklin College at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society and graduated in 1838.

Immediately afterward he began the study of medicine, and in the spring of 1839 he entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, where, in March, 1841, he received the degree of Doctor of Medicine.

In 1846, after about four years' practice of his profession in Savannah, he was called to take the chair of physics and chemistry in his Alma Mater, Franklin College, University of Georgia, and there he continued to teach for nine years.

His four years of residence in that city of Savannah formed no exception to the usual experience of a young doctor: a very small practice and an increasing family. It afforded, however, an excellent opportunity for study and research, and it was during this period that he made his most important contributions to medical literature. These at once established his reputation in the profession as an acute observer, cautious, exact, and industrious. The first of them, entitled "A Case of Carcinoma of the Stomach," published in the "New York Medical Gazette" in 1842, was the initial outcome of a series of observations on cancer that has been continued from time to time, even after Dr. Le Conte's abandonment of the practice of medicine.

In 1855 he resigned his place in Franklin College to take the chair of chemistry in the College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, and lectured there on that subject during the winter of1855-'56; but physics rather than chemistry was his favorite department, and therefore in the summer of 1856 he accepted a call to the chair of physics in the South Carolina College at Columbia. In March 1869, he moved to Oakland, California, to join the faculty of the newly established University of California as a professor of physics. In June 1869, he was appointed acting president of the University. Upon the resignation of President Gilman in March 1875, Le Conte was appointed acting president a second time until June, 1876, when he was elected president. On June 7, 1881

Professor John Le Conte died at Berkeley, April 29, 1891, at the age of 73 years.

During his long scientific career of just fifty years he published more than one hundred papers. His most striking contribution to Physics was the discovery (in 1857) of the remarkable properties of " sensitive- flames ' ' which afford a most delicate means of analyzing compound musical tones.
John Le Conte 1818-1891

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