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American Medical Biographies/Jameson, Horatio Gates

Jameson, Horatio Gates (1778–1855)

This surgeon was born in York, Pennsylvania, in 1778, the son of Dr. David Jameson who had emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1740, in company with Dr. Hugh Mercer (q. v.).

Horatio studied medicine under his father and began practice at the early age of seventeen. After living in Somerset County, Pennsylvania and in Adamstown and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he arrived in Baltimore in 1810 and attended lectures at the College of Medicine (University of Maryland), and graduated M. D. in 1811, his inaugural thesis being "The Supposed Powers of the Uterus." For some years he combined the business of druggist with that of medicine. During the War of 1812 he was surgeon to the United State troops in Baltimore, for which service his widow received a pension.

He was physician to the City Jail for several years; from 1814 to 1835 he was surgeon to the Baltimore Hospital; from 1821 to 1835 he was consulting physician to the Board of Health.

In 1827 he joined with Samuel K. Jennings, William W. Handy, James H. Miller, Samuel Annan (q. v.), and John W. Vethake in founding the Washington Medical College, which in 1839 obtained a charter conferring University rank, but never succeeding in establishing any other department and was suspended in 1852. In 1830, by special invitation, he visited Europe and read a paper on the "Non-contagiousness of Yellow Fever" before the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians at Hamburg. He was the first American to attend these meetings and the only delegate present from the new world on this occasion. In 1832 he was appointed superintendent of vaccination and improved the virus in use by repassing it through the cow. He also had charge of the cholera hospitals established during the terrible epidemic of that disease. He published in the American Medical Recorder in 1822 (v. 116) "A Case of Bronchocele, Relieved by Taking Up One of the Superior Thyroid Arteries."

In 1835 he accepted a professorship and the presidency of the Ohio Medical College at Cincinnati, but his wife's ill-health caused him to return to Baltimore after one session. In 1854 he removed to York and thence, after a brief stay, to Philadelphia, where he wrote and published his book on "Cholera." It is interesting to note that he had found the treatment of this disease more successful as it was milder and more simple. During a visit to New York for the purpose of disposing of this work he was taken suddenly ill and died August 24, 1855, at the age of seventy-six. His remains were brought to Baltimore for interment. His last written article was published in the American Journal of the Medical Sciences for October, 1856.

Dr. Jameson was well built, erect, his face was florid, healthy and clean-shaven, and free from wrinkles; his eyes were dark brown, piercing and surmounted by bushy eyebrows. He wore heavy gold spectacles and was very neat in his attire, and was noted for his mechanical ingenuity.

In the American Medical Recorder for January, 1829, there is an account of a remarkable trial held in the Baltimore City Criminal Court in the spring of 1828. It was the result of a suit brought by Dr. Jameson against Dr. Frederick E. B. Hintze for defamation of character. The trouble arose from the attempt to establish a second medical school in Baltimore and the envy and ill-will thereby engendered. The report gives interesting details of some of Jameson's great and original operations. The cases mentioned are: 1. Extirpation of upper jaw, with preliminary ligation of the carotid artery, 1820. It was the first time the operation had ever been performed and was a complete success, the patient being in good health at the time of the trial. 2. A case of lithotomy in which a hard fibro-cartilaginous tumor just within the neck of the bladder produced a grating sensation on passing the catheter simulating that caused by a stone in the bladder. 3. Removal of a scirrhus of the uterus, the first done in America. 4. A large tumor of the neck in which an exploratory trocar was introduced. 5. Attempted ovariotomy. The result was that Hintze was fined and Jameson completely vindicated.

From 1829 to 1832 Dr. Jameson published a quarterly journal entitled the Maryland Medical Recorder, and in this and the American Medical Recorder his numerous papers and reports of operations appeared. In 1817 he published two lectures on "Fevers in General," pp. 48, and a work, "American Domestic Medicine," pp. 161 (second edition 1818). His work on cholera has already been mentioned, "A Treatise on Epidemic Cholera," Philadelphia, 1854, pp. 286.

He was twice married, first in 1797 to Catherine Shevell, of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, by whom he had nine children. She died in 1837 and late in life he married a widow Ely, who survived him but had no children. His sons were all physicians and died early, leaving no descendants.

Cordell's Med. Annals of Maryland, 1903. Portrait.
Amer. Med. Recorder, Phila., 1829, vol. xv.