On March 28, 1814, the funeral of Joseph Ignance Guillotin, the namesake but not the inventor of the infamous execution device, takes place outside of Paris, France. Guillotin, a member of the General Assembly had what he felt were the purest motives for proposing the use of the device. The machine was intended to show the intellectual and social progress of the French Revolution; by killing aristocrats and journeymen the same way, equality in death was ensured. The first use of the guillotine was on April 25 1792, when Nicolas Pelletier was put to death for armed robbery and assault in Place de Greve. The newspapers reported that guillotine was not an immediate sensation. The crowds seemed to miss the gallows at first. However, it quickly caught on with the public and many thought it brought dignity back to the executioner. However, the prestige of the guillotine fell precipitously due to its frequent use in the French Terror following the Revolution. It became the focal point of the awful political executions and was so closely identified with the terrible abuses of the time that it was perceived as partially responsible for the excesses itself. The association with the guillotine so embarrassed Dr. Guillotin's family that they petitioned the French government to rename it; when the government refused, they instead changed their own family name. By coincidence, a person named Guillotin was indeed executed by the guillotine, he was J.M.V. Guillotin, a doctor of Lyons. This coincidence may have contributed to erroneous statements that Guillotin was put to death on the machine that bears his name; however, in reality, Guillotin died in Paris on March 26, 1815 of natural causes, and was buried at Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Still, it was used sporadically in France into the 20th century.
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