Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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VATTEMARE, Alexandre, founder of the system of international exchanges, born in Paris, 8 November, 1796: died there, 7 April, 1864. He became a surgeon, and in 1814 was sent to conduct Prussian prisoners of war to Berlin. Afterward, being without resources, he became a professional ventriloquist, and under the name of Monsieur Alexandre was well known throughout Europe and appeared as such in this country. Subsequently he gave up this occupation to urge the adoption of his system of commercial exchanges. At first this aimed simply at a systematic exchange of duplicates between libraries, especially of government publications, but he afterward extended it to include art-objects, maps, specimens of natural history, and other similar articles. He came to this country in 1839 and again in 1847, and was granted money by congress and by the legislatures of several states to further his scheme, which met with more success here than in Europe. His manners were captivating, and in his addresses he indulged in the most extravagant flattery of the United States, promising that by his exertions "the veil of ignorance which shuts out your country from view will fall and she will stand in the eyes of Europe in her true dignity and glory." He also held out the prospect that "a rattlesnake or a lizard may procure a copy of the Venus de Medicis." He was the means of adding 300,000 volumes to the libraries of this country; but he lacked judgment and system, and his scheme was ultimately a failure. His plan of establishing a government bureau in Paris in connection with it was not regarded with favor, and he died a disappointed man.--His son, HIPPOLYTE, who has contributed to current literature in France, notably a series of biographical sketches of American soldiers in the " Revue contemporaine," has unsuccessfully endeavored to revive his father's project.
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