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May 8, 2011 / jmeuropeana

Lavoisier, Martinique, Nungesser and Coli

On the 8th of May –

1794 French chemist Lavoisier, discoverer of oxygen and hydrogen, is tried, convicted and guillotined on this same day for treason. His main crime appears to have been his work as a a tax collector for the ancienne regime.

Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier
In all fairness to his killers – next to his scientific work he did publish on taxation and how to make that more effective. Even nowadays that would excite the wrath of the righteous people:
Addition aux observations de M. Lavoisier, député suppléant du bailliage de Blois, sur la liquidation de la dette exigible ou arriérée

In the Carribean island of Martinique, Mount Pelée erupts in 1902, destroying the town of Saint-Pierre and killing over 30,000 people. Only a handful of residents survive the blast. One famous case is that of a drunk who survived because he was in the thick-walled jail at the time the pyroclastic flow hit the town. I have been to Martinique once, on a Carribean cruise, and seen that the event is still very much alive in public memory – memorials, museums etc. etc.
When searching in Europeana I found this picture by Paul Merwart, one of the victims of the 1902 eruption:
Alphonse de Neuville sur son lit de mort
I also found this newspaper from Martinique dated the 9th and the 13th of May, with the first news reports and the telegrams expressing sympathy and promising help from the French government:
Journal officiel de la Martinique
Journal officiel de la Martinique
This is a short videoclip from the French news in 2002, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the disaster:
[La montagne Pelée]

In an attempt at the first non-stop transatlantic flight from Paris to New York in 1927, French war heroes Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli disappeared after taking off aboard The White Bird biplane. This was two weeks before the succesful attempt by Charles Lindbergh:
Portrait de Nungesser
This is a medal commemorating an earlier flying record of Coli – a same-day return flight between Marseille and Algeria in 1919:
Médaille : portrait des aviateurs Coli et Roget

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