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Samuel Hahnemann in Senegal

Christian Friedrich Samuel Hahnemann was born near Dresden, Germany. As a young man, he mastered a number of languages, eventually making a living as an interpreter and teacher. He then studied medicine and earned an MD, graduating with honors. He quickly found work as a doctor in a village in Saxony and married Johanna Henriette Kuchler. That union produced 11 children. A few years after he established his medical practice, he gave it up and went back to translating, particularly scientific and medical books. He gave up his practice chiefly because he believed medicine as it was then practiced rendered as much harm as it did good. As a result of his translating and his own research, he began to develop a style of medicine that he dubbed homeopathy. The basic tenet of homeopathy is to administer small doses of a disease to cure a disease. This theory is not unlike immunizations today, where a small amount of a deactivated virus such as a flu shot is given to protect one from the disease. Although a number of Hahnemann’s theories didn’t prove out, he was financially successful enough to continue his experiments and studies, many of which he used himself as a subject. He must have done something right. He moved to Paris in 1835 and died 8 years later at the positively ancient age (for the time) of 88. The bust on his well-maintained tomb was sculpted by David d’Angers.

Those who enjoy Paris’ broad boulevards and avenues can thank Georges-Eugene Haussmann, known to most Parisians as Baron Haussmann. Haussmann attended the prestigious secondary school College Henri IV in Paris, later studied law and went onto a career in civil service, where he advanced rapidly. In June 1852 Napoleon III hired him to modernize Paris. Among the modernizations Haussmann was charged with were safer streets and traffic flow and more sanitary conditions. Ultimately that translated to a massive sewer system and broad avenues. Much of how Paris looks today can be credited to Haussmann’s plans. He is known both as the man who destroyed Old Paris and the man who created New Paris.

Although it is hard to criticize Napoleon III for his grand plan to improve the lives of Parisians, he did have an ulterior motive: destroying the crowded neighborhoods that were loosely bound together with confusing, twisting streets reduced the number of hiding spots and places of refuge for revolutionaries and troublemakers. The broader the street, the harder it was to construct and maintain barricades. Indeed, 2 of the reasons the Paris Commune rebellion in 1871 was put down so quickly was that the Paris Army could quickly move in along the wide boulevards and that many of the narrow streets where insurgents usually put up barricades no longer existed. The concept of using roads and highways for dual military and public benefit is not unique to France. In the 1950s in the United States, President Dwight David Eisenhower promoted the interstate highway system as a way to quickly transport weapons, personnel and military vehicles.

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