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Amateur

Culture/Politics

Fewer Professionals, Please

In the summer of 1769 the town of Boxford, Massachusetts was on edge. Jonathan Ames’ pretty young wife, Ruth, had taken ill, and when Mrs. Kimball, a neighbor, came to visit, Ruth’s mother-in-law claimed the odor coming from her chamber was too foul to admit visitors. Kimball nevertheless insisting on a visit, found the room agreeable, but her friend writhing in pain on the bed and foaming at the mouth. When the young woman died the next day, her body was buried quickly, attended by an out of town minister for a very small group of family, with no coroner examining her remains. Within days, the town was demanding an investigation and a formal accounting that by our standards would seem ghoulish. Gathering at the meeting house, after prayer, a jury of 25 citizens, 13 of whom were physicians, ordered the body to be exhumed, not just for the members of the medical profession, but for the whole town to see. The crowd was so immense, and the desire… Keep Reading

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