Page:A cyclopedia of American medical biography vol. 2.djvu/504

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means be deemed a quack if the term means a vain and tricky practitioner, for he told all he knew in as plain a manner as possible and acquired much knowledge of hitherto unknown virtues of plants. He experimented on himself, then pub- lished the results, leaving others to form their own opinions.

He was born on February 9, 1769, in Olstead, Cheshire County, New Hamp- shire, the son of John and Hannah Cobb Thomson. He began early as an herba- list for, discovering by self experimenta- tion when four years old the emetic prop- erties of lobelia, he amused himself in- ducing boy friends to chew it, and made further researches as a boy by associating with an old woman herbalist, the only "doctor" in that wild region. "When sixteen he offered himself as a pupil to a "root doctor," one Fuller of Westmore- land, but owing to deficient education was refused. Later, he bought a farm in Surrey and married. In 1796 his second child having scarlet fever and the doctor (Bliss) practically giving up the case, Thomson made his first experiment with steam and saved the girl. After that, wise in herbal lore, particularly that relating to lobeUa he became a traveling doctor riding on horseback through New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massa- chusetts, first patenting his remedies at Washington. He finally settled down to practise in Beverly, Massachusetts, and naturally met with opposition among the faculty though he also made converts to his system who, as he did, used lobelia emetics, sweating, capsi- cmn, composition powder and hot drops. The author was once in jail on a charge of murder by lobelia poisoning but was acquitted and afterwards opened an ofiice and infirmary in Boston. For twenty years the Thomsonian System flourished in New England, such men as Benjamin Waterhouse and Samuel L. Mitchill, in their private correspondence approving with reservations of the System and unre- servedly of the author's frankness and zeal.

Thomson passed from life on October

4, 1S43, heroically partaking of his own remedies to the very end.

"His New Guide to Health" was first issued in 1822 and, passing through various editions with enlargements, became "Thomson's Materia Medica or Botanic Family Physician," which reached a thirteenth edition edited by Dr. John Thomson, his son. Two journals were started, "The Botanic Watchman," in 1834, and the "Thomsonian Recorder," 1833, which furnish curious and amusing reading. D. W.

Bull, of the Lloyd Library, Reproduction

Series, No. 7, 1909.

History of the Healing Art, Dr. Gardner C.

Hill, 1904.

The Botanic Watchman, vol. i, 1834.

Thomson, William (1833-1902?).

William Thomson was born in Cham- bersburg, Pennsylvania, January 28, 1833, one of the three sons of Alexander Thomson, judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District of the State, and Jane Graham. He studied medicine at the Jefferson Medical College, and graduated M. D. in 1853, and early attracted the attention of Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell, being led by him to take over the practic of Dr. Clark, of Merion, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, where he settled as a country physician. Four years later he married Rebecca George, a member of a well-known family of Friends then living on the original grant of land from William Penn to their ancestor.

In the smnmer of 1861, as assistant surgeon, with rank as lieutenant, he entered the regular service, just before the disaster of Bull Run. He served in this position in the Army of the Potomac and in Washington and Alexandria until, in 1862, he joined Gen. McClellan's head- quarters as chief of staff to the medical director, Jonathan Letterman. He was present throughout the Peninsula cam- paign and at Antietam.

In 1863 he was placed as surgeon in charge of the Douglas Hospital, Wash- ington, and in 1864 made medical inspec- tor at Washington, which contained in its various hospitals over 23,600 beds. In