User:Auric/Beecher cranium

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The Beecher cranium is the name given to the upper part of the head of a wooden figurehead of Pres. Andrew Jackson, that was removed on July 2, 1834 by one Captain Samuel P. Dewey. The removal was part of a protest of the Boston Whigs against the policies of the president. At night, under cover of a thunderstorm, Dewey climbed up the side of the USS Constitution, where the statue was affixed. Unable to saw the head off at the neck, he settled for removing the head above the tip of the nose.

He then left for Washington. He exhibited the cranium to John Tyler and Willie Person Mangum in Philadelphia, who where most amused by the sight. He was unable to present the head to Jackson himself, who was ill at the time. Instead he showed it to the vice-president, Martin Van Buren, who was astonished but pleased. Van Buren then sent Dewey to Mahlon Dickerson, Secretary of the Navy. Dickerson wanted to have him arrested, but he told that he could only be arrested for trespass. Dickerson was mollified by this and Dewey left it in his care[1], receiving a receipt for it[2]. Dewey died in poverty at the age of 93, despite having found both the largest American diamond and ruby.[3]

The head of the figurehead was replaced in New York.[4]

Dickerson kept the head and his family possessed the head as a family heirloom. The head went missing when the family moved to France, but was eventually tracked down by a curator from the Museum of the City of New York in the 1990's. Both the cranium and the figurehead from which it was removed are currently on display at the museum.[5]

History Detectives[edit]

A portion of the head was the subject of an episode of History Detectives, "Andrew Jackson’s Mouth", in 2010.[6]


  1. ^ Drake, Samuel Adams (1874). "An Hour in the Government Dockyard". Historic fields and mansions of Middlesex. J.R. Osgood. pp. 41–44. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Carpenter, Edward, J. (1897). "Old Ironsides". The New England Magazine. 23 (3): 282. Retrieved 13 July 2010.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  3. ^ "CAPT. SAMUEL DEWEY DEAD.; Became Famous in President Jackson's Time -- Died in Poverty.". Philadelphia. June 11, 1899. p. A2. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Winsor, Justin (1882). The memorial history of Boston: including Suffolk County, Massachusetts. 1630-1880. Osgood. p. 361f. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "Episode 804, Story 2: Andrew Jackson’s Mouth" (PDF). Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "History Detectives. Investigations - Andrew Jackson's Mouth". Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 13 July 2010. 

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