One of Benjamin Rush’s biographers has compared him to quicksilver, the brilliant and elusive element mercury that changes so unpredictably yet so curiously reflects the images around it. The metaphor is appropriate in another sense, too, for not only was Rush mercurial as a person, but as an eighteenth-century physician he freely resorted to the use of mercury in its various forms to purge patients of certain “morbific” or disease-making substances that were supposed to lurk in their bodily fluids. Dr.Read more »
William Maclay, elected by the Pennsylvania Legislature to the Senate of the United States, left his farm near Harrisburg early in March, 1789, and journeyed to New York to attend the first session of the First Congress. He took board and lodging for two dollars a week at a Mr. Vandolsom’s near the Bear Market, and for the next month he waited for the two houses to form a quorum, meeting informally each morning with other members at Federal Hall on Wall Street.Read more »
The whole history of America affords examples of men who fitted precisely the needs of a particular moment, only to be cast aside, forgotten or traduced when the tide of events they created or manipulated waned and time passed them by. During and after the Revolution, it happened to James Otis and Samuel Adams, but for no one did ingratitude follow fame quite so cruelly as for Thomas Paine.Read more »
Dr. Benjamin Rush believed the hand of God must have been involved in the noble work. John Adams, writing from Grosvenor Square, London, called it the greatest single effort of national deliberation, and perhaps the greatest exertion of human understanding, the world had ever seen.Read more »
On February 23, 1803, Thomas Jefferson wrote the following letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush, professor of the Institute of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the foremost American physician of his day: Dear Sir: I wish to mention to you in confidence that I have obtained authority from Congress to undertake the long desired object of exploring the Missouri & whatever river, heading with that, leads into the Western ocean.
Except for its distance from the Old World’s courts and capitals, there was little that was provincial about Philadelphia in the second half of the eighteenth century. Although Franklin’s enormous reputation tended to overshadow the attainments of his fellow citizens, the city abounded in men of brilliant minds, some of them as highly regarded in Europe as they were in America. Benjamin Rush was the most prominent American physician of his day and the foremost teacher of medicine.