Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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DOWLER, Bennet, physician, born in Elizabeth (.now Moundsville), Ohio County, Virginia, 16 April 1797; died in New Orleans in 1879. He was graduated M. D. at the University of Maryland in 1827, and settled in Clarksburg, Harrison County, Virginia, where he was postmaster for four years, but in 1836 he removed to New Orleans, and was for a few years editor of the New Orleans "Medical and Surgical Journal." Early in his career he began experimenting upon the human body, immediately or soon after death, and the results of his investigations, comprising some important discoveries relative to contractibility, calorification, capillary circulation, etc., were published in 1843'4. Since then these and other original experiments have been extended and generalized by him. His researches on animal heat, in health, in disease, and after death, which have been published in various medical journals, have disclosed the fact that postmortem calorification after death from fever, cholera, sunstroke, etc., rises in some cases much higher than its antecedent maximum during the progress of the trouble.
Dr. Dowler began in 1845 a series of experiments in comparative physiology on the alligator of Louisiana, which led him to conclude that, after decapitation, the head and, especially, the trunk afford evidences of possessing the faculties of sensation and motion for hours, and that the headless trunk, deprived of all the senses but that of feeling, still retains the powers of perception and volition, and may act with intelligence in avoiding an irritant. As the result of those discoveries, he held that the functions and structure of the nervous system constitute a unity inconsistent with the assumption of four distinct and separate sets of nerves, and a corresponding fourfold set of functions. He was a fellow and founder of the Royal society of northern antiquities, Copenhagen, a permanent member of the American medical association, and founded the New Orleans academy of sciences. He is the author of a "Tableau of the Yellow Fever of 1853" (1854), and various other contributions to medical science.
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