ParaPedia - Encylopedia of the Paranormal, Bizarre, Mysterious, & the Unexplained

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Part 6 - The Descision

Definition: Part 6 of a 7 part series about spirit photography.

 

As the trial twisted its way through this catacomb of fantasy and despair, Mumler remained a "calm and fathomless" presence in the courtroom, with "a face which one would scarcely be able to believe in at first sight." On May 3, the photographer rose for the first time to address the court. Again, he confessed nothing: "I positively assert that in taking the pictures, I have never used any trick or device, or availed myself of any deception or fraud."

When Mumler finished, Townsend and Gerry stepped forward to give their closing remarks. Townsend spoke first, rousing himself for two hours of "powerful and highly finished" argument. "Men like these would have hung Galileo, had he lived in their day," Townsend thundered, oratorically thumping the prosecution and its witnesses.

Gerry swatted back with a "lengthened dissertation" that roved through hallucinations, Biblical phantoms, the heathenish nature of spiritualism and the nine methods of faking spirits. "There is no positive proof whatever of any spiritual agency," in Mumler's photographs, Gerry exclaimed. "Only evidence that certain persons believe it exists."

And then, without much further ado, Judge Dowling announced his decision with a verdict fogged in ambiguity. The judge shared Gerry's belief that Mumler was crooked, pronouncing himself "morally convinced," that Mumler had practiced "fraud and deception." And then he set the photographer free. Prosecutor Gerry had not pinpointed Mumler's trickery and, therefore, had not made his case.

It was a decision that satisfied neither party. Did Judge Dowling take the easy way out with this mixed decision? Or did he take a deeper view and conclude that in matters of belief there are degrees of reality and degrees of truth, and it was not in his power to decide upon them? In any event, Mumler was released, and his comrades in the movement of the "new light" rejoiced that their martyr had escaped the bonds of the Tombs.

Collections:

William H. Mumler - Father of Spirit Photography

 

Related Categories:

| The Birth and Death of Spirit Photography | Spirit Photography Defined | Part 1 - The Birth Of Spirit Photography | Part 2 - Leaving Boston | Part 3 - New York City | Part 4 - The Arrest and Trial | Part 5 - Witnesses for the Prosecution | Part 7 - Return to Boston | William H. Mumler and Spirit Photography | William H. Mumler and Spirit Photography - 2 | | Mumler's Spirit Photos | | Haunting Spirit Photography from the Age Before Photoshop | 15 Incredible Examples of Early Spirit Photography | HISTORY OF SPIRIT PHOTOGRAPHY | William H. Mumler, Spirit Photographs, Amazed Audiences With Ghostly Images | Of Spooks, Proofs, and Truths: Reflections on the Mumler Spirit Photograph Case - YouTube | The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer — University of Minnesota Press | Spirit Photography | The Mumler Mystery: A Gallery of Spirit Photography from The American Museum of Photography | The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer - Louis Kaplan - Google Books | A Ghostly Image: Spirit Photographs | Picture This: Library of Congress Prints & Photos | When Cameras Took Pictures of Ghosts - Megan Garber - The Atlantic | G is for ghosts... the birth and rise of spirit photography | National Media Museum blog | | The Ghost and Mr. Mumler |

Resources:

  external linkThe Birth and Death of Spirit Photography | Dark Shadow Ghost Tours

 

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