Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/451

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SPALDING


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SPALDING


the foundation of the Medical School at Dartmouth where the young man lec- tured on chemistry for two years and acted as anatomical demonstrator when subjects offered. Finding at the end of 1799 that he could not earn a living Ijy lecturing alone, Spalding moved to Wal- pole, New Hampshire, for a short time and thence to Portsmouth in the same State. Here he found a galaxy- of physicians, including Drs. Ammi Cutter and Hall Jackson, while Joshua Brackett was but a few miles away. Nothing daunted, he began an active campaign of vaccination, just introduced from Eng- land, and was the first in America to test publicly the efficacy of this procedure against small-pox, at the pest house in Portsmouth Harbor in July, 180L

Besides proving his medical worth in this way, he printed yearly bills of mor- tality, and sent them to many prominent physicians of the ilay in order to induce them to study the diseases of the towns in which they lived. In this way he became acquainted with the leaders of American medicine, especially in the larger cities. He studied anatomy zeal- ously, during the cool weather dissected in a specially arranged cellar in his own house, and soon formed an anatomical museum. In the summer he cultivated medicinal plants, and at the local medical society exhibited personally grown and prepared opium. He was active in the New Hampshire Medical Society and served for eight years as its secretary. He established a County Medical Society. He wrote to the authorities in Washington of the unsani- tary conditions of the fort in the harbor and obtained a commission as contract surgeon for the troops around Ports- mouth.

He continued his correspondence with Nathan Smith, but although Dr. Smith wished him to return to the Dartmouth Medical School as lecturer he could not see his way clear to leave his practice for two months in the year. He early became noted as a surgeon and did all of the operations of the day over an extent


of country of fifty miles from Portsmouth as a center. He was interested in the yellow-fever scourge, and after introduc- ing his vaccination, his next move was to got appointed to the town Board of Health, and then to improve the sanitary condition of its dwellers. He constructed a fine galvanic machine and used it for the treatment of his patients.

In 1802 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Peter Coues, who was in the Royal Navy and on the "Royal George" when she went down "with twice four hundred men," as Cowper sang.

Hearing in 1S08 from Dr. Smith that the famous Alexander Ramsay was to lecture on anatomy at Dartmouth, Dr. Spalding set out with a precious cargo of dissecting material for Hanover, and delivered it at last safely to the delighted Smith who after inviting Ramsay had been looking around in vain for subjects for the lectures. Dur- ing this course Spalding dissected and prepared everything for Ramsay, and received abundant thanks.

Returning to Portsmouth for another year of study and practice he spent the winter of 1809-10 in Philadelphia under the instruction of Rush, Caldwell, Phy- sick, and Dorsey, but chiefly he devoted weeks and months to anatomy in com- pany with Caspar Wistar.

The result of his public dissections and preparations at Philadelphia, where we read from old letters, "The whole medical world of Philadelphia is talking of Spalding's beautiful anatomical dem- onstrations and preparations of the lymphatics," was a most unlooked-for invitation to the chair of anatomy at the Fairfield Medical School in New York. He was diffident at first of his ability to lecture, but accepted and for seven years did most excellent work. It has been said that his prognostications con- cerning this school did not prove true, but keeping his eyes fixed on medicine, he failed to comprehend, until too late, the ruin inflicted on his plans by meddle- some politicians, at that time rampant in New York State.