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Guillotin, Doctor Joseph Ignace

Famous French physician and zealous Freemason. Born at Saintes, May 28, 1738; died at Paris, March 26, 1814. Often credited with inventing the guillotine, a machine for beheading those condemned to death in France, but this is untrue; neither did he die by this means, as has been asserted. As Deputy to the Assembly, he urged, on December 1, 1789, that capital punishment should be inflicted as speedily and painlessly as possible, and argued for a machine. Although such contrivances were not new, and in fact the one adopted at the time was perfected by Antoine Louis, secretary of the Academy of Surgeons, and a mechanic, Schmidt, the machine unjustly bears the name of him who pleaded for its use on humane grounds.

One of the founders of the Grand Orient of France, Doctor Guillotin was first the Orator of the Chamber of the Provinces, becoming President, October 27, 1775, and was Worshipful Master of Concorde Fraternelle Lodge at Paris, his name being on the list of Lodges for 1776 with the address "at Schools of Medicine," and among the officers of the Grand Orient, that year, he is qualified as professor of the medical faculty in the University of Paris. He was in 1778 the founder of the society which became the Academy of Medicine, and in 1784 he was with Benjamin Franklin, American statesman, and Jean Sylvain Bailly, French astronomer, all three members of the Lodge of the Nine Sisters, appointed the Royal Commission to report on the animal magnetism claims of Mesmer (see Une Loge Maonnique d'Avant 1789, Louis Amiable, 1897, page 282).

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