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John Jeffries
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    (February 5, 1744-September 16, 1819)
    Born in Boston, Massachusetts
    Surgeon, scientist, and balloonist
    With Jean-Pierre Blanchard made the first balloon crossing of the English Channel (November 30, 1784)
    His attempt at giving the first public anatomy lecture in America ended with a mob breaking into the operating theater and carrying off the cadaver (1774).
    During the American Revolution, he joined the British Army as a military surgeon.
    He eventually moved to England, but first visited his father's house and stole a batch of letters from dignitaries such as Benjamin Franklin.
    When he left the Army, he sold off his surgeon's commission to a man with no medical training at all.
    He was the first balloonist to bring along scientific instruments (including a thermometer, a barometer and vials for collecting air samples) to measure how conditions changed during ascent.
    Blanchard, not wanting to share the glory, kept trying to prevent him from joining the English Channel crossing, even though Jeffries was footing the bills.
    During the Channel flight, he brought along a letter to Benjamin Franklin's grandson, the first airmail.
    He was one of the first weather observers in the US, keeping detailed records of Boston's weather starting in 1774.
    In his honor, National Weatherperson's Day is celebrated on his birthday.

Credit: C. Fishel

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