Pennsylvania: Joseph Priestly House

fter religious and political persecution in his native England, Joseph Priestley (1733-1804) sailed to America, where in 1794 he supervised the construction of, and later settled into this home in Northumberland, Pennsylvania with his family. Joseph Priestley was not only an ingenious scientist and the discoverer of oxygen, but also a brilliant theologian, a Unitarian clergyman, a liberal political philosopher and a loving humanitarian.

While in Philadelphia, Priestley befriended the likes of Benjamin Franklin as well as Thomas Jefferson, and became quite close with them both. Joseph would also play a large part in the establishment of the first Unitarian Church in Philadelphia.

At his Northumberland home, Priestley would identify carbon monoxide, publish more then 30 scientific manuscripts and hold Sunday services. His home laboratory and library, that consisted of 1,600 volumes, were considered one of the best in the country at the time.

Joseph Priestley’s brilliance was never ending. He actively worked on experiments right up until the time of his death on February 3rd 1804. Upon his death, Thomas Jefferson was quoted as saying that Joseph Priestley was “One of the few lives precious to mankind” - and undoubtedly that is true.

Joseph Priestley’s home is open to the public, and in 1994 the American Chemical Society designated his home as a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

-Ghastly G :October 2008