Chang and Eng

Excerpted from The Two, the biography of the original Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker, by Irving and Amy Wallace, ©1978:

On another visit to Philadelphia, the fact that the twins were genuinely united saved them from a fine or jail. A spectator, shaking hands with Chang, squeezed his hand painfully hard. Immediately, Chang punched him, knocking him off his feet. The man rose, summoned the law, and the twins were hauled before a magistrate on charge of assault and battery. The magistrate, after studying the twins connecting band, addressed the complainant. The judge agreed that Chang could be jailed for assault, but added that if Eng were also jailed it would amount to false arrest and the complainant himself would have to be prosecuted. Needless to say, the injured party dropped his charges.

It’s a strange thing to think about, but I’ve wondered what would happen if one person, conjoined with another, committed a crime.  This judge didn’t really answer that question, he just found a clever way to avoid making the decision himself.

The book was a lot more interesting than I expected it to be.  The brothers were far more than just sideshow freaks.  They retired from show business at an early age, married sisters and fathered 21 (!) children, owned slaves and ran a successful farm, met Abraham Lincoln; they led full and happy lives.


1 Comment

  1. markonit

    …their story is far more nuanced than has ever been widely shared…


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