The first autopsy recorded in the United States took place in September 1639 on an ill-treated apprentice in Salem, Mass. Eighteen years later, the first autopsy was performed to help a coroner’s jury reach a verdict in a murder case. The surgeon, who performed the autopsy in Maryland on this date in 1657, was hired for “dissecting and viewing the corpse” of a black slave who allegedly was killed by his master. He was paid the fee of “one hogshead of tobacco.” It wasn’t until the 19th century that pathology originated as a medical specialty. Then, autopsies began being performed to study the effects of various diseases on the body’s organs.
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