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Word Count: 1,227
In former times body-snatching or digging up bodies for dissections was much more heard of than at present The fear if it was so great that often in the neighborhood where medical students were pursuing their studies persons who lost friends and family members would have a watch kept over their graves for several nights to prevent them from being dug up Neither the high social position nor sex of the dead provided a barrier to this disturbance of the graves Although it was established that for thorough instruction in medical science subjects for dissection were necessary yet no one outside of the medical profession could be found to authorize body-snatching In the winter of 1787 and 1788 medical students of New York City dug up bodies more frequently than usual Usually the students had contented themselves with ripping open the graves of strangers and Negroes about whom there was little concern This winter however they dug up respectable people even young women of whom they made an indecent exposure The stories did not lose anything by reputation and soon the conduct of physicians and medical students became a town talk The graveyards were easily accessible while there are plenty of men to be found who for a small sum would dig up any body anyone desired In 1788 the towns only shelter for the ill was New York Hospital a three-story structure atop a small hill west of Broadway between Duane and Reade streets1 Due to the fact that British soldiers had left the place in horrible condition the facility could not be used for practice of medicine Two of its rooms had been altered by the professors of the nearby Columbia College into dissecting rooms for the students A mere accident caused this state of feeling to culminate and suddenly break out into action On Sunday April 13th some boys were playing in the rear of the New York Hospital as they
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