Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/453

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SPENCE


399


SPENCER


Spence, John (1766-1829).

He was born in 1766 in Scotland, receiving his education at Edinburgh University, where he spent five years. Fully qualified to graduate in medicine, he was prevented from doing so by reason of the development of pulmonary tuber- culosis, and having been advised by his preceptors to take a long sea voyage, he came to Virginia. Being in straightened circumstances, he accepted a position as tutor in a family Hving in Dumfries, then a thriving town with an extensive trade with Scotland. In 1828, in considera- tion of his well merited distinction, the honorary M. D. was conferred upon him by the University of Pennsylvania.

The voyage to and sojourn in Virginia so restored his health that at the expira- tion of his engagement in 1791 he began to practice medicine, for which he was well prepared and soon attained, in the region in which he lived for nearly forty years, a high reputation as a judicious and sucessful practitioner. 'VATien vacci- nation was introduced into the United States he gave his attention to the sub- ject, and satisfying himself of its great ])rophylactic power, did much to inspire the public, both in Virginia and the adjoining states, with confidence in it. Having imbibed his first principles under the immediate instruction of Cullen, they were never obUterated from his mind and were ever to him infallible evidences and tests of medical truths.

He made niunerous contributions to medical literature, one of which was a valuable one on the efficacy of digitalis in pulmonary hemorrhage. He was an earnest advocate of the use of digitaUs in pulmonary affections and dropsies.

In 1806 he carried on an interesting correspondence with Dr. Benjamin Rush on the successful treatment of puerperal mania, which was published in the " Medical Museum" of Pliiladelphia. He was one of the collaborators of the "American Journal of Medical Sciences," and contributed to it a good paper on the efficacy of a sea voyage in arresting pul- monary consumption in his own case.


He left many manuscripts in which the results of his professional experience were recorded.

The last two or three years of his life were spent in combating a disease, the exact nature of which is not known. Its chief symptoms were ascites and anasarca which followed a violent attack of bilious fever succeeded by attacks of gout. He kept himself alive long beyond the time at which his disease threatened to end his existence by the use of his favorite remedy, digitalis, and by trips in summer to watering places. His last days were saddened by the death of a favorite son.

He died at his home on May IS, 1829, aged sixty-three years, leaving a widow and several small children.

R. M. S.

W. E. H. in the American Journal of Medical Sciences, vol. v, Phila., 1829. Medical Biography, Williams.

Spencer, Pitman Clemens (1793-1860).

Known as a surgeon and lithotomist, he was born in Charlotte County, Vir- ginia, the son of Gideon and Catherine Spencer, his father, a lieutenant in the state service in the Revolution. Pitman Spencer had few early advantages and began to study medicine with his brother. Dr. Mace C. Spencer, in 1810, remaining with him imtil 1812, when he volunteered and acted as surgeon's mate to a detach- ment of troops located at Norfolk. He attended lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in 1818.

He settled in Nottoway Court House, and, associated with Dr. Archibald Campbell, practised until 1827, when he went abroad, passed some time in London and Paris, and made a tour of Switzerland and Italy. While in Paris he studied under Dupuytren and after- wards always used the latter's doubled, concealed lithotome.

Dr. Spencer was a member of the (old) Medical Society of Virginia. A contem- porary said of him that he was a born surgeon, but cared more for the art than the science. He was bold to recklessness in operating, but had marvellous success