John Dalton (1766-1844)
Background Information

John Dalton was a born September 6, 1766 in Eagelsfield, Cumbria in England, but spent most of his life in Manchester. He was a British Chemist and physicist. He
was the son of Weaver and he received his early education from his father. At the age of 12 Dalton began teaching at Quacker School in his native town. In 1781 he moved
to Kendal, where he conducted a school with his cousin and his elder brother. He then went to Manchester in 1793 and spent the rest of his life in Manchester as a teacher, first at New College, and later as a private tutor. He died in Manchester on July 27, 1844. Dalton was a life long bachelor.

Daltons First Major Step to the Atomic Theory

Daltons fascination with science included a intense interest in meteorology. Starting in 1793 John kept careful daily weather records for 46 years. The meteorology study
here led Dalton to a interest in the gases of the air and their ultimate components. This interest of gases led to Daltons discovery of the Atomic Theory.

Dalton's Discovery

John Dalton was a humble man with several apparent handicaps: he was poor, he was not articulate, he was not a skilled experimentalist, and he was color blind. These
disadvantages are a terrible problem for a chemist, but in spite of these Dalton made his most important contribution to science called the atomic theory. The theory consists
that matter is composed of atoms of differing weights and combine in simple ratio’s by weight. Dalton was the first to prepare a table of relative atomic weights. This theory
which Dalton first advanced in 1803, is the cornerstone of modern physical science. Dalton's atomic theory rests on the following postulates:
1.All matter consists of tiny particles
2.Atoms are indestructible and unchangeable
3.Elements are characterized by the mass of there atoms
4.When Elements react, their atoms combine in simple, whole-number ratios


1)Encarta Encyclopedia 98 (CD-ROM)

2)Encarta Encyclopedia 99 (CD-ROM)

3)Webster's Encyclopedia




1766-Dalton's Born in England
1770-The eraser is invented
1776-American Revolution Begins
1780-Steel point pens replace quill feathers
1781-John Dalton moves to Kendal
1789-French Revolution Begins
1793-Dalton moves to Manchester and starts to keep daily weather recordings
1803-Daltons atomic theory is done and discovered
1827-In London, Wheatstone constructs a microphone
1837-Samuel Morse invents first American telegraph
1840-In Britian, first postage stamps are sold
1844-Dalton Dies at age of 78

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