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Joseph Priestley
JPriestley Portrait.jpg
Priestley by William Artaud
Born 13 March 1733
Fieldhead, Yorkshire, England
Died 8 February 1804
Northumberland, Pennsylvania

Joseph Priestley FRS ( 24 March [O.S. 13 March] 1733 – 6 February 1804) was an 18th-century English Separatist theologian, natural philosopher, chemist, innovative grammarian, multi-subject educator, and liberal political theorist who published over 150 works. He has historically been credited with the discovery of oxygen, having isolated it in its gaseous state, although Carl Wilhelm Scheele and Antoine Lavoisier also have strong claims to the discovery.

During his lifetime, Priestley's considerable scientific reputation rested on his invention of soda water, his writings on electricity, and his discovery of several "airs" (gases), the most famous being what Priestley dubbed "dephlogisticated air" (oxygen).

A scholar and teacher throughout his life, Priestley also made significant contributions to pedagogy, including the publication of a seminal work on English grammar and books on history, and he prepared some of the most influential early timelines. These educational writings were among Priestley's most popular works.

By 1801, Priestley had become so ill that he could no longer write or experiment. He died on the morning of 6 February 1804, aged seventy and was buried at Riverview Cemetery in Northumberland, Pennsylvania. By the time he died in 1804, Priestley had been made a member of every major scientific society in the Western world and he had discovered numerous substances.

Recognition for Priestley's work is marked by a National Historic Chemical Landmark designation for his discovery of oxygen, made on 1 August 1994, at the Priestley House in Northumberland, Penn., by the American Chemical Society. Similar international recognition was made on 7 August 2000, at Bowood House in Wiltshire, UK. The ACS also awards their highest honor, the Priestley Medal, in his name.

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