Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/208

This page needs to be proofread.


MONETTE


1S2


MONETTE


of his son, who had decided to become a physician. Four years hiter, March 21, 1S25, John AVesiey Monette received his diploma from Transylvania University, at Lexington, Kentuckj'. He immedi- ately returned home and resumed prac- tice, which he had engaged in some time before the completion of his medical course.

On December 10, 1S2S, he married CorneUa Jane Newman, daughter of George and Charlotte Newman, and had ten children, but only four survived childhood, George N., A. C, Anna, and Maria Louise.

Dr. John W. Monette was a student by nature, and, although he was actively and successfully engaged in an exacting pro- fession, he never lost interest in literary work. He had a large and well selected Ubrary, composed principally of works on medicine, history, geography, geology, and theology.

In 1823, shortly after Dr. Monette began the study of medicine, an epidemic of yellow fever broke out in Natchez and was soon conveyed to the town of Wash- ington, which is only six miles distant. This afforded the young medical student an excellent opportunity to study the disease as it appeared in his father's practice. Two years later, soon after his graduation, a more fatal epidemic of yellow fever visited Natchez and Wash- ington, both towns being well-nigh depop- ulated. This epidemic afforded to Dr. Monette and his life-long friend Dr. Cartwright, their first opportunity to acquire distinction in their profession. In referring to their essays on the subject of yellow fever wliich were written at that time and subsequently, a contributor to "DeBow's Review" says that they soon placed their reputation among the best contributors to the medical litera- ture of the day. On December 2, 1837, Dr. Monette read before the Jefferson College and Washington Lyceum an interesting paper, entitled "The Epidemic Yellow Fevers of Natchez," in which he suggested the use of quarantines in restricting the disease. This contribu-


tion was published by the Lj'^ceum in its official organ, the "Southwestern Jour- nal." The return of the epidemic in 1839 gave Dr. Monette an opportunity to con- tinue his investigations. He shortly afterwards published a small volume, entitled "Observations on the Epidemic Yellow Fevers of Natchez and the South- west from 1817 to 1839." When the next yellow fever epidemic broke out in New Orleans in the summer of 1841 Dr. Monette had the pleasure of seeing his quarantine theory put to a test. It is claimed that this was the first time that an attempt was ever made to control the spread of yellow fever by means of quar- antine, and that to Dr. Monette is due the credit of originating this method of restricting the disease.

This successful result increased the demand for articles from his pen dealing with the subject of yellow fever. In the winter of 1842-3 he contributed a series of papers on this subject to the " Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery," published at Louisville, Kentucky.

Dr. Monette's other contributions to the science of medicine are numerous and interesting. The " Western Medical Journal" of June, 1827, refers to his use of oil of turpentine as an external irritant, particularly in the treatment of typhus fever, in language that would lead the reader to suppose that he was a pioneer in the use of this now familiar remedy. His other contributions to medical reviews are too numerous and technical to be given in detail.

Dr. Monette's earlier literary efforts outside the field of professional contribu- tions seem to have been directed princi- pally to the subject of natural history. As early as 1824 he prepared a carefully written essay of 201 manuscript pages on the "Causes of the Variety of the Complexion and the Form of the Human Species." In this essay he attempts to show the primitive unity of the human race and to prove that racial differences can be accounted for by the influence of en\'ironmental conditions.

It is clear that many principles pub-