On July 4th, 1776, representatives in a small courthouse in Pennsylvania signed the Declaration of Independence. The men that signed that paper would come to be known as the founding fathers (1 Kind, Thomas).
Everyone has heard of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, but who has heard of Benjamin Rush? Benjamin Rush was born December 24, 1745 In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth child of John and Susann Rush’s seven children. He was raised Presbyterian and was greatly influenced by the minister Gilbert Tenement (2 Vulcan,John). Tenement was a powerful speaker and rose during the Great Awakening. Rush attended West Nottingham Academy as a young lad and learned Calvinist beliefs. He never fully embraced the Calvinist doctrine however (2 Vinci, John). He graduated and soon attended the College of New Jersey.
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After earning an A. B. In 1760 from the College of New Jersey, he studied under Dry. John Redden in Philadelphia from 1761-1766 (3 Encyclopedia Dickinson). Redden recommended Edinburgh University to Benjamin and he soon continued his studies there. He graduated from the university in 1768 with an A. D.
He found a Job at SST. Thomas’ hospital In London and worked there from 1768-1769. He learned new medicinal teachings from Dry. William Culled. Rush believed that bloodletting was essential In lowering a pulse; this was a new Idea at the time (4 Brood’s, Alan peg 42). After this year of work, he decided to come back to America. In 1 776, he married Julia Stockton and they had thirteen children.
He also became close friends with Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. They invited him on to the Continental Congress and soon he found himself signing the Declaration of Independence as a delegate from Philadelphia.After this, Rush joined the faculty at the College of Philadelphia as a Chemistry professor. In 1789, he was promoted to Professor of the theory and practice of medicine. He was wildly popular with the students and his lectures always drew large crowds (4 Brood’s, Alan peg 44). When the Revolutionary War broke out, Rush was made Surgeon-General for the armless of the middle department. He soon grew dissatisfied with the hospitals for being corrupt and Ill managed and he wrote many letters of frustration to George Washington.
He angrily resigned after George Washington accused him of disloyalty hospitals. In 1786, Rush established the first free dispensary in the country. Only seven years later a giant yellow fever epidemic broke out in Philadelphia. Benjamin worked tirelessly to care for the patients and to expel the disease. Rush would keep extremely detailed records of the patients he dealt with during this period (1 Kind, Thomas). His popular and accessible book, An Account of the Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever, as it appeared in the City of Philadelphia, in the Year 1793, brought him international fame.He was almost as good at writing as he was at speaking.
Rush made many contributions to medicine that have stood the test of time. He used the simplification of diagnosis and treatment of disease. He pointed out that decayed teeth were a source of systemic disease. He promoted inoculation and vaccination against smallpox (1 Kind, Thomas). A pioneer in the study and treatment of mental illness, Rush insisted that the insane had a right to be treated with respect. He protested the inhuman accommodation and treatment of the insane at Pennsylvania Hospital.When he received an inadequate response to his complaints from the hospital’s Board of Managers, Rush took his case to the public at large.
In 1792 he was successful in getting money for an asylum for the insane. He discovered many new aspects of insanity, which are strikingly similar to the modern categorization of mental illness?such as heredity, age, marital status, wealth, and climate?that he thought predisposed people to insanity. One of many causes of this madness he noted was intense study of “imaginary objects of knowledge (4 Brood’s, Alan peg 67). In his time Rush had no peer as a social reformer. Among the many causes he championed?most of them several generations in advance of nearly all other reformers?were prison and Judicial reform, abolition of slavery and the death anally, education of women, conservation of natural resources, abstinence from the use of tobacco and strong drinking, and the appointment of a “Secretary of Peace” to the federal cabinet (3 Encyclopedia Dickinson). He was a very influential man and was way ahead of other revolutionaries.Although at various times a member of Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches, Rush generally denied formal denominational connections.
He confided to John Adams: “l have ventured to transfer the spirit of inquiry (from my profession) to religion, in which, if I have no followers in my opinions (for I hold most of them secretly), I enjoy the satisfaction of living in peace with my own conscience, and, what will surprise you not a little, in peace with all denominations of Christians, for while I refuse to be the slave of any sect, I am a friend of them all … My own religion] is a compound of the orthodoxy and heterodoxy of most of our Christian churches (4 Brood’s, Alan peg. 89). ” In 1813 Rush died suddenly after a brief illness (1 Kind, Thomas). He was buried in the graveyard of Chrism’s Church in Philadelphia, the same church whose pastor had christened him 67 years earlier (2 Vinci, John).
On learning of his death Jefferson he co-signers of the Independence of our country. And a better man than Rush could not have left us, more benevolent, more learned, of finer genius, or more honest. Adams, grief-stricken, wrote in reply, “l know of no Character living or dead, who has done more real good in America (3 Encyclopedia Dickinson). ” Benjamin Rush died a man that was key to future medicinal discoveries, a great friend, a social worker that cared about the less fortunate, and a founding father of our great nation. He might not be one of the top five names you know when asked about the Declaration of Independence, but he was influential in his field of medicine ND he was a peacemaker between James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.