For other uses, see Raspail (disambiguation).

François-Vincent Raspail, L.L.D., M.D. (25 January 1794 – 7 January 1878) was a French chemist, naturalist, physician, physiologist, attorney, and socialist politician.


Raspail was born in Carpentras, Vaucluse. A member of the republican Carbonari society, Raspail was imprisoned during Louis Philippe's reign (1830–1848) and was a candidate for presidency of the Second Republic in December 1848. However, he was then involved in the attempted revolt of 15 May 1848 and in March 1849 was again imprisoned as a result. After Louis Napoleon's 2 December 1851 coup his sentence was commuted to exile, from which he returned to France only in 1862. In 1869, during the liberal phase of the Second Empire (1851–1870), he was elected deputy from Lyons. He remained a popular republican during the French Third Republic, after the short-term Paris Commune in 1871.

Raspail died in Arcueil.

His sons, Benjamin Raspail (1823), Camille Raspail (fr) (1827), Émile (1831), and Xavier (1840) were also all notable figures in the Third Republic.

Scientific achievements

Raspail was one of the founders of the Still life with a plate of onions" by Vincent van Gogh (1889 Kroller-Muller).

Entry into politics

After the revolution of 1830, Raspail became involved in politics. He was President of the Human Rights Society, and was imprisoned for that role. While in prison, he tended sick inmates, and studied their diseases. He became convinced of the value of camphor, which he believed worked by killing extremely small parasites – a version of the germ theory of disease.

Later career

Raspail was a candidate for the Presidency of the French Second Republic in December 1848, but came in fourth, losing to Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (Later Napoleon III). He had been involved in the attempted revolt of 15 May 1848, and in March 1849 was again imprisoned as a result. In 1853, Napoleon III commuted his sentence of imprisonment to one of exile. He returned to France from exile in 1862. In 1869 he was elected deputy from Lyons and in 1875 from Marseilles. He remained popular and respected during the French Third Republic. The longest boulevard in Paris, in the VIIe, VIe and XIVe arrondissements, was named Boulevard Raspail in his honor, after which the Raspail Métro station takes its name.


  • Essai de chimie microscopique 1830
  • Nouveau système de chimie organique 1833
  • Manuel annuaire de la santé 1834, revisued annually
  • Le Réformateur (newspaper, published 1834–35)
  • Lettres sur les Prisons du Paris 1839
  • Histoire naturelle de la santé 1843
  • Manuel annuaire de la Santé, ou Médecine et Pharmacie domestiques . Selbstverl., Paris 1845 Digital edition by the University and State Library Düsseldorf

For further reading

  • Raspail: Scientist and Reformer by Dora B. Weiner (Columbia University Press, 1968)

See also


External links

  • Bibliopoly listing by A Gerits & Son
  • (Mentions and quotes Raspail several times)
  • Who named it – Virchow's law
  • Timeline for the Cell Theory
  • archontology.org's page on Napoléon III, gives election results for 1848
  • An example of the Raspail Simple Chemical Microscope made by Louis Joseph Deleuil

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