Joseph was born on March 21, 1768 in France. He grew up with a mom, dad and twelve brothers and sisters. Out of all of the children, he was the ninth. His dad married his first wife and they had three children. His Father then remarried because his first wife died. They had nine more kids. Out of those nine kids, he was the sixth child. Joseph’s mom died when he was only nine years old. His father died the following year.
Joseph first went to school at Pallais’s School. The monks from the cathedral were in charge of the school. It was a military school. While in school, Joseph studied Latin, French and showed great potential. Even though he showed an aptitude for literature by the age of thirteen, he knew that he wanted to be in mathematics. In 1773, Joseph completed studying the six volumes of Bézout's Cours de mathématiques when he was fourteen. In the following year, when he was fifteen, he received the first prize for his study of Bossut's Mécanique en général.
In 1787, he was studying to prepare for the priesthood. Even though he went into the priesthood, he still wanted to do something with math. While he was in the priesthood, he helped a math professor with his lessons. He was unsure if he was making the right decision about the priesthood. However, he submitted a paper on algebra to Montucla in Paris and wrote a letter to Bonard stating his desire to influence mathematics.
The next year, Joseph started tutoring at Benedictine College. His problem of picking his religious life or a mathematics life became worse. It got much worse when he went into politics and joined the local Revolutionary Committee.
Joseph did not take his religious vows of priesthood. He left the cathedral in 1789 and he visited Paris and read a paper on algebraic equations. He read his paper at the Royal Academy of Science.
Joseph returned to Auxerre and continued teaching at Benedictine College. It was the same school that he attended in his childhood. When the École Normale was founded in 1794 in Paris, he was among the first students. The French Revolution then brought him into politics and that put his life in danger a couple times.
A year later, he left Benedictine College to join the faculty of École Polythechnique. It was a teacher training school set up for the teachers to study and learn about the procedures for teaching. Joseph was the smartest student there. He was taught by all of the greatest teachers at the college. Joseph was given more responsibilities at the college, but was removed soon after because he was arrested again. Shortly after he was...