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Louis Antoine de Bougainville

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Louis Antoine de Bougainville (November 11, 1729August 31, 1811) was a French navigator.

De Bougainville was born in Paris, France, the son of a notary. In early life, he studied law, but soon abandoned the profession, and in 1753 entered the army in the corps of musketeers[?]. At the age of twenty-five he published a treatise on the integral calculus, as a supplement to De l'Hôpital[?]'s treatise, Des infiniment petits.

In 1755 he was sent to London as secretary to the French embassy, and was made a member of the Royal Society. In 1756 he went to Canada as captain of dragoons and aide-de-camp to the marquis de Montcalm[?]; and having distinguished himself in the war against England, was rewarded with the rank of colonel and the cross of St Louis. He afterwards served in the Seven Years War from 1761 to 1763. After the peace, when the French government conceived the project of colonizing the Falkland Islands, Bougainville undertook the task at his own expense. But the settlement having excited the jealousy of the Spaniards, the French government gave it up to them, on condition of their advantage of the easterly monsoon, which carried them to Batavia. In March 1769 the expedition arrived at St Malo, with the loss of only seven out of upwards of 200 men. Bougainville's account of the voyage (Paris, 1771) is written with simplicity and some humour.

After an interval of several years, he again accepted a naval command and saw much active service between 1779 and 1782. In the memorable engagement of the April 12, 1782, in which Rodney defeated the comte de Grasse, near Martinique, Bougainville, who commanded the "Auguste," succeeded in rallyifig eight ships of his own division, and bringing them safely into St Eustace[?]. He was created chef d'escadre, and on reentering the army, was given the rank of marechal de camp. After the peace he returned to Paris, and obtained the place of associate of the Academy. He projected a voyage of discovery towards the north pole, but this did not meet with support from the French government.

Bougainville obtained the rank of vice-admiral in 1791; and in 1792, having escaped almost miraculously from the massacres of Paris, he retired to his estate in Normandy. He was chosen a member of the Institute at its formation, and returning to Paris became a member of the Board of Longitude. In his old age Napoleon I made him a senator, count of the empire, and member of the Legion of Honour. He died in Paris on the August 31, 1811. He was married and had three sons, who served in the French army.

Bougainville's name is given to the largest member of the Solomon Islands; and to the strait which divides it from the island of Choiseul. It is also applied to the strait between Mallicollo[?] and Espiritu Santo[?] islands of the New Hebrides group, and the South American climbing plant bougainvillea[?], often cultivated in greenhouses, is named after him.


Initial text from a 1911 Encyclopedia. Please update as needed.



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