Born on 1 December 1867 in Mierzanow near Ciechanow as son of a landowner, participant of the January 1863 Uprising. Completed the Real School in Warsaw and then studied chemistry at the Technical University in Riga, simultaneously pursuing clandestine activity in the "Proletariat" Party. After return to Warsaw, threatened with arrest, in 1892 emigrated to London with his wife. There he co-operated with the Polish socialists, working mainly as a labourer.
In 1896, he met Jozef Pilsudski and got attached to him forever. A year later, he was engaged as an Assistant Professor at the Univeristy of Freiburg in Switzerland. Subsequently, he moved to industry. He was the first to use the atmospheric nitrogen to produce nitric acid on an industrial scale. As a designer of superpower capacitors he was recognised one of the best European specialists in the field. In 1912 he was appointed Head of the Chair of Physical Chemistry and Technical Electrochemistry of the Lwow (Lvov) Technical University. He was elected Rector of the Lwow Technical University in 1925, in which year he moved to the Warsaw University of Technology.
Author of Polish and foreign patents. Holder of Doctor Honoris Causa degree of numerous Polish and foreign universities. Sworn in as President of the Republic on 4 June 1926 before the National Assembly at the Royal Castle in the presence of the government, the diplomatic corps, the press and the family. Sworn in before the National Assembly for the second term on 9 May 1933 also at the Royal Castle, which he made his residence. His term of office expired in September 1939 upon his internment in Roumania. He passed his office to Wladyslaw Raczkiewicz. Died near Geneva on 2 October 1946.