From the Orders of General Washington


"Complaint has been made to the General, that the body of a Soldier of Col. Benjamin Ruggles, Woodbridge's Regiment, has been taken from his grave by persons unknown; The General and the Friends of the deceased, are desirous of all the Information that can be given, of the perpetrators of this abominable Crime, that he, or they, may be made an example, to deter others from committing so wicked and shameful an offence."

Thomas Jefferson in a letter to William Carmichael June 3, 1788


" ... A riot has taken place in New York which I will state to you from an eye-witness. It has long been a practice with the Surgeons of that city to steal from the grave bodies recently buried. A citizen had loft his wife. He went, the 1st or 2nd  evening after her burial, to pay a visit to her grave. He found that it had been disturbed and suspected from what quarter. He found means to be admitted to the anatomical lecture of that day, and on his entering the room, saw the body of his wife, naked and under dissection. He raised the people immediately. The body in the mean time was secreted.
They entered into and searched the houses of the Physicians whom they most suspected. But found nothing. One of them however, more guilty or more timid than the rest, took asylum in the Prison. The mob considered this as an acknowledgement of guilt. They attacked the prison. The governor ordered militia to protect the culprit and suppress the mob. The militia, thinking the mob had just provocation, refused to turn out. Hereupon the people of more reflection, thinking it more dangerous that even a guilty person should be punished without the forms of law, than that he should escape, armed themselves and went to protect the physician. They were received by the mob with a volley of stones, which wounded several of them.  They hereupon fired on the mob and killed four. By this time they received a reinforcement of other citizens of the militia horse, the appearance of which in the critical moment dispersed the mob.
So ended this chapter of history, which I have detailed to you because it may be represented as a political riot, when politics had nothing to do with it. Mr. Jay and Baron Steuben were both grievously wounded in the head by stones. The former still kept his bed, and the latter his room when the packet failed which was the 24th of April. ... "

 


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