In 1806, Andrew Oehler put on a ghost show in Mexico City for guests including the governor of Mexico City and senior government leaders. In a dark room decorated with skulls and skeletons, he asked his audience whether there was anyone in particular whom they wanted him to summon. One man indicated that he would like to see his departed father, and so Oehler, by means of a “magic lantern,” a type of projection box used to simulate ghosts, called forth the spirit.
The next morning, Oehler was arrested, charged with raising spirits, and imprisoned for several months until a Spanish marquis, familiar with magic lanterns, heard what had happened and explained the truth to the authorities. He was freed and the governor profusely apologized for his imprisonment, claiming it had only been done to placate “the clamours of the Spanish monks and friars.” Oehler moved to New Jersey and vowed to never perform his act again.