On This Day Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen

joseph priestley

On this day August 1st, in 1774, dissenting British minister Joseph Priestley, author of Observations on Civil Liberty and the Nature and Justice of the War with America, discovers oxygen while serving as a tutor to the sons of American sympathizer William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, at Bowood House in Wiltshire, England.

Joseph Priestley shared the liberal religious and political philosophy of many of America’s revolutionary leaders, including Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, all of whom became his friends and correspondents. Priestley first met Franklin while both were living in London during the 1760s. Both were Renaissance men with established reputations as scientists and political philosophers and they embarked on an enduring friendship. In 1774, Franklin and Priestley attended the first Unitarian sermon given at the first Unitarian church founded in London. Unitarianism evolved out of a dissenting Christian tradition that denied the concept of the Trinity and the divinity of Christ. Unitarians instead believed that God was one being and that Christ was a human spokesman of God’s truth. Priestley had been born into a dissenting (non-Anglican Protestant) family and gradually found his way to Unitarianism by the early 1760s. Franklin’s views were very similar and sympathetic to Unitarians, but he never joined a Unitarian congregation.

Although still living in England, Priestley endorsed both the American and French revolutions, authoring pamphlets in support of each. On the second anniversary of Bastille Day, a mob in Birmingham, England, burned Priestley’s home, including his first-class scientific laboratory and the Unitarian church where he preached. As a result of the attack, he decided that he could no longer live in England and immigrated to the United States in 1794.

Priestley settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where he lived until his death in 1804. While there, Priestley established the first Unitarian church in Philadelphia, where then-Vice President John Adams attended his sermons.

 

Most Read Stories

Project Thor
Defense

Did the U.S. Just launch “Project Thor” as the secret ZUMA Payload that SpaceX just put into Orbit?

The 107-country Outer Space Treaty signed in 1967 prohibits nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons from being placed or used from Earth’s orbit. What they didn’t count on was the U.S. Air Force’s most simple weapon […]

Police State
Defense

With a Stroke of a Pen, PA Governor Wolf Limits Firearm Rights by Proclaiming State of Emergency

Today, Pennsylvania Governor Wolf issued a proclamation declaring Pennsylvania’s heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency, seemingly triggering the firearm prohibitions found in 18 Pa.C.S. § 6107 during declared emergencies. Specifically, Section 6107 provides: (a) General […]

Goodbye Brass
Defense

Goodbye, Brass?

by Art Merrill – Monday, February 13, 2017 Let’s skip the appetizer and get right to the meat and potatoes of a manufacturer’s claims for a new cartridge case technology to replace the 150-year reign of […]