Thomas Sewall

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Dr. Thomas Sewall (April 16, 1786 April 10, 1845) was an American doctor, writer and academic. He gained notoriety for being convicted of body snatching, and later went on to become a professor.

Body snatching secret removal of corpses from burial sites

Body snatching is the secret removal of corpses from burial sites. A common purpose of body snatching, especially in the 19th century, was to sell the corpses for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools. Those who practised body snatching were often called "resurrectionists" or "resurrection-men". A related act is grave robbery, uncovering a tomb or crypt to steal artifacts or personal effects that had been buried with the deceased; however, grave robbery differs from body snatching in that grave robbing does not involve stealing the corpse itself.

Sewall was born in Hallowell, Maine. In August 1812, he graduated from Harvard Medical School and began practicing medicine. In 1819, he was arrested, charged, and found guilty of multiple counts of body snatching in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Forced to leave the state, he moved to Washington to re-establish his career. In 1825 he became a founding faculty member of the medical department at Columbian College (which later became George Washington University), where he became professor of anatomy.

Hallowell, Maine City in Maine, United States

Hallowell is a city in Kennebec County, Maine, United States. The population was 2,381 at the 2010 census. Popular with tourists, Hallowell is noted for its culture and old architecture. Hallowell is included in the Augusta, Maine micropolitan New England City and Town Area.

Harvard Medical School Medical school in Boston, MA

Harvard Medical School (HMS) is the graduate medical school of Harvard University. It is located in the Longwood Medical Area of the Mission Hill neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded in 1782, HMS is one of the oldest medical schools in the United States and is consistently ranked 1st among research-oriented medical schools by U.S. News and World Report. Unlike most other leading medical schools, HMS does not operate in conjunction with a single hospital but is directly affiliated with several teaching hospitals in the Boston area. The HMS faculty comprises of approximately 2,900 full- and part-time voting faculty members consisting of assistant, associate, and full professors, and over 5,000 full- and part-time, non-voting instructors. The majority of the faculty receive their appointments through an affiliated teaching hospital.

Ipswich, Massachusetts Town in Massachusetts, United States

Ipswich is a coastal town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 13,175 at the 2010 census. Home to Willowdale State Forest and Sandy Point State Reservation, Ipswich includes the southern part of Plum Island (Massachusetts). A residential community with a vibrant tourism industry, the town is famous for its clams, celebrated annually at the Ipswich Chowderfest, and for Crane Beach, a barrier beach near the Crane estate. Ipswich was incorporated as a town in 1634.

Sewell is remembered today for his eight graphic drawings of "alcohol diseased stomachs." Colored lithographs of these were made and widely distributed to promote teetotalism and the temperance movement. He was also an opponent of phrenology, the pseudo-science of studying the size and shape of peoples' heads.

Teetotalism Practice or promotion of complete personal abstinence from alcoholic beverages

Teetotalism is the practice or promotion of complete personal abstinence from alcoholic beverages. A person who practices teetotalism is called a teetotaler or is simply said to be teetotal. The teetotalism movement was first started in Preston, England, in the early 19th century. The Preston Temperance Society was founded in 1833 by Joseph Livesey, who was to become a leader of the temperance movement and the author of The Pledge: "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality whether ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as medicine."

Temperance movement 19th- and 20th-century global social movement

The temperance movement is a social movement against the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Participants in the movement typically criticize alcohol intoxication or promote complete abstinence (teetotalism), with leaders emphasizing alcohol's negative effects on health, personality, and family life. Typically the movement promotes alcohol education as well as demands new laws against the selling of alcohols, or those regulating the availability of alcohol, or those completely prohibiting it. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the temperance movement became prominent in many countries, particularly English-speaking and Scandinavian ones, and it led to Prohibition in the United States from 1920 to 1933.

Phrenology study of human characteristics according to shape of the skull

Phrenology is a pseudoscience which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits. It is based on the concept that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that certain brain areas have localized, specific functions or modules. Although both of those ideas have a basis in reality, phrenology extrapolated beyond empirical knowledge in a way that departed from science. The central phrenological notion that measuring the contour of the skull can predict personality traits is discredited by empirical research. Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall in 1796, the discipline was influential in the 19th century, especially from about 1810 until 1840. The principal British centre for phrenology was Edinburgh, where the Edinburgh Phrenological Society was established in 1820.


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