Hewson probably purchased dead bodies on the black market and then performed surgeries in a school that he ran in the back of the house. While Franklin was almost certainly aware of these illegal dissections, it is doubtful that he participated. Since the doctor had bought the bodies from grave robbers and grave-robbing was illegal, he then buried them in the yard to avoid detection. The Chess Hall of Fame. That honor belongs to Ben Franklin, who was the only inductee in He was obsessed with the game, regularly playing through the night until the next morning.
In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.
On the contrary, I affirm that there is no country in the world in which the poor are more idle, dissolute, drunken, and insolent. By December, the Americans were running a variety of clandestine activities against the British, including:. Edward Bancroft was a respected scientist and businessman in London, who had become friends with Benjamin Franklin in the early s, when Franklin was a colonial business agent. Franklin had acted as a mentor to Bancroft, sponsoring him for the British Royal Society.
Bancroft was believed to be sympathetic to the American cause, and he also became a confidant to Silas Deane. But Bancroft was a spy for the British government, who had identified him as a potential asset as early as , when political dissent was on the rise in the colonies.
In , British intelligence cooked up a cover story for Bancroft, who wrote to Franklin and Deane saying that he no longer felt safe in London and was coming to Paris—where, perhaps, he could help his friends in their efforts? He joined the American Commission as a private secretary, with access to all its papers. Other agents penetrated the Commission's operations. And the Americans made it easy for them to do so. For starters:.
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There was no real physical security at the Commission itself. The public had access to the mansion, documents and papers were spread out all over the office, and private discussions were held in public areas. Commissioner Arthur Lee was appalled by the lack of any physical protection. He wrote that a French official "had complained that everything we did was known to the English ambassador, who was always plaguing home with the details.
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There is still a possibility that I may have to hold an inquest. Researchers believe that there could be more bodies buried beneath the basement kitchens. Initial estimates are that the bones are about years old and were buried at the time Franklin was living in the house, which was his home from to , and from to Paul Knapman, the Westminster Coroner, said yesterday: "I cannot totally discount the possibility of a crime. In the early s Dr Hewson was in partnership with William Hunter, who, with his brother John, was one of the founders of British surgery.
Repairs on Franklin’s old London house turned up 1200 pieces of bone from at least 15 people
Dr Hunter and Dr Hewson ran a school of anatomy in Soho, but after an argument Dr Hewson left to live in Franklin's house, where he is believed to have established a rival school and lecture theatre. Dr Knapman added yesterday: "It is most likely that these are anatomical specimens that Dr Hewson disposed of in his own house, but we are still not certain about the bones' exact age or origin. Evangeline Hunter-Jones, deputy chairman of the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House, the charity concerned with restoring the property and opening it to the public, said: "The bones were quite deeply buried, probably to hide them because grave robbing was illegal.
There could be more buried, and there probably are. Brian Owen Smith has volunteered to lead researches on behalf of the friends. He said yesterday: "The discovery represents an important insight into very exciting years of medical history.
Benjamin Franklin, through his support for Polly and Dr Hewson, socially and scientifically, was very much part of that. To the suggestion that Franklin might have been a grave robber, or an accomplice to Dr Hewson, Hilaire Dubourcq, of the Friends of Benjamin Franklin House, responded: "It is possible that he has an alibi. It seems likely that he actually let Dr Hewson have use of the whole house for his school for a time, and went up the street to live with Mary Stevenson.
He did not necessarily know what was happening below stairs in the house during his absence. Dr Hewson fell victim to his own researches at an early age.
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He accidentally cut himself while dissecting a putrid body, contracted septicemia and died in , aged Franklin, who wrote the opening words to the Declaration of Independence, continued to support the widowed Polly, and when he returned to Philadelphia he invited her there to live as his neighbor. Both her sons became eminent medical men, as have successive generations of Hewsons in America. If the first Dr Hewson did obtain bodies for his experiments and demonstrations by robbing local graveyards, he risked the death penalty or deportation.
He might have had the help of his students in secretly burying the remains beneath the four-story house, where the dissections may have been performed. It is hoped to reopen the house to the public at the end of the year. Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing. ISBN