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Article
January 11, 1908

The Inventor of the Guillotine.

JAMA. 1908;L(2):137. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02530280053020

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Abstract

St. Louis, Jan. 4, 1908.

To the Editor:  —In The Journal, Jan. 4, 1908, page 68. I note that Dr. William Pepper is reported to have said: "Dr. Guillotin, the inventor of the guillotine, had his own head chopped off." If Dr. Pepper has been correctly quoted, the value of his paper on "Diseases of Great Physicians of the Past," which was read before the Philadelphia County Medical Society on Dec. 11, 1907, is much lessened. Dr. Guillotin lived until the year 1814, and died quietly in his bed. Furthermore, he did not invent the machine which bears his name.The use of a beheading machine can be traced to the middle ages. In Genoa it was known by the name of "manuaja," and it was by means of the manuaja that Beatrice Cenci was beheaded at Rome in 1605. The "maiden," an instrument resembling the guillotine, was long known

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