Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/381

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RUSH


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RUSH


academy kept by the Rev. Samuel Finley, later president of Princeton College, at Nottingham, he entered Princeton, where he received the degree B . A. in 1760. He spent the subsequent six years as an apprentice to Dr. John Redman, one of the most prominent physicians of Phila- delphia, and during this time translated the "Aphorisms of Hippocrates" into English and kept a medical notebook from which was suljsequently derived the only account written by an eye- witness, of the yellow-fever epidemic which occurred in 1762 in Philadelphia. He also was one of the ten pupils who attended the first course of lectures on anatomy given by Dr. William Ship- pen, Jr.

In 1766 he entered the medical school of Edinburgh University and took his M. D. there in 1768, his graduation thesis being called " De Coctione Ciborum in Ventriculo." Thacher says it was written in classic Latin, and adds quaintly "and I have reason to believe without the help of a grinder of theses." While he was at Edinburgh, Pres. Finley, of Princeton College, died, and the trustees elected the celebrated Dr. Witherspoon, of Paisley in Scotland, as his successor. The latter at first declined the appointment, but the trustees appointed young Rush as their deputy, and liis solicitations at length prevailed on the eminent Scotchman to accept the position. From Edinburgh, Rush went to London and from thence to France to study, returning to Philadelphia in 1769. In the same year he was elected professor of chemistry in the college of Philadel- phia, thereby rendering complete the medical faculty of the first medical school established in what is now the United States. The other teachers were John Morgan, William Shippen, Jr., and Adam Kuhn. Clinical lectures in asso- ciation with their teaching were also given at the Pennsylvania Hospital by Dr. Thomas Bond.

Upon the death of Dr. John Morgan in 1789, Rush succeeded him as professor of the theory and practice of medicine in


the College of Philadelphia. When, in 1791, that institution was merged with the University of the State of Pennsyl- vania to form the University of Penn- sylvania, Dr. Rush was appointed pro- fessor of the institutes of medicine and clinical medicine. In addition to his public teaching Dr. P^ush had a large number of private students, and it has been estimated that in the course of the forty-four years in which he was actively engaged in teaching he instructed 2,250 pupils. His lectures, judging from the notebook of his pupils and from the state- ments of those who heard them, were models of lucidity and comprehensive- ness. He had the gift of imparting to his students some share of his own wonderful enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge. The prevalent medical teaching of his day was that of Cullen. Diseases were classified and every disease was supposed to possess an appropriate specific treatment. Underlying princi- ples were entirely disregarded in an effort to build up a purely artificial classi- fication of diseases and their treatment. Rush attacked the prevalent theories of medicine at once. He proclaimed the importance of the principles upon which a correct knowledge of the practice of medicine could only be based. "In his public instructions, the name of the dis- ease is comparatively nothing, but its nature everything. His system rejects the nosological arrangement of diseases, and places all their numerous forms in morbid excitement, induced by irritants, acting upon previous debility. It rejects, likewise, all prescriptions for the names of diseases, and by directing their appli- cation wholly to the forming and fluctu- ating state of diseases, and of the system, derives from a few active medicines all the advantages which have been in vain expected from the numerous articles which compose European treatises upon the materia medica. This simple ar- rangement was further simplified by considering every morbid state of the system to be of such as neither required depletion or stimulation."