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Rodgers, Mitchill, Hosack, and Stringham, labored assiduously as professors during several years. The “ College of Physicians and Surgeons” in the city of New York was founded under a charter granted by the regents of the university in 1807. Nicholas Romayne, as president of this new school, delivered an inaugural discourse, evincing varied knowledge and very original views on the physiology of the different races of the human species. Smith, Hosack, De Witt, Miller, Bruce, and others, professors in this institution, gave it a high reputation, and secured popular approbation of its instructions; but a rivalry between it and the medical school of Columbia College was justly regarded as a public misfortune, and in 1813 the two institutions were combined. In the new faculty, anatomy was assigned to Dr. Post, the practice of physic to Hosack, chemistry and pharmacy to Dr. Macneven, surgery to Dr. Mott, materia medica to Dr. Francis, obstetrics to Dr. Osborn, mineralogy to Dr. Mitchill, and medical jurisprudence to Stringham. The school flourished many years; but at length, in 1826, professional rivalry, and the deaths of some of the professors, so embarrassed the survivors, that they resigned their chairs, and retired with the thanks of the regents for their eminent ability and assiduity.
The regents appointed a new faculty, consisting of Doctors Watts, J. A. Smith, Stevens, Dana, J. M. Smith, Delafield, and John B. Beck; and Dr. Watts became president of the institution, which, with some changes in its corps of teachers, still continues to dispense medical knowledge. The faculty which had retired established a new school under the sanction of Rutgers college of New Jersey, and gave lectures for a time in the city of New York, which were received with high favor; but, a charter being denied them, they discontinued their labors in 1829.
The University of the city of New York has recently established a medical faculty, in which Dr. Mott lectures on surgery, Dr. Patterson on anatomy, Dr. Paine on the materia medica, Dr. Draper on chemistry, Dr. Revero on the practice of physic, and Dr. Bedford on obstetrics. About four hundred pupils are now annually educated in the medical profession in the city of New York.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of the western district was founded at Fairfield, in Herkimer county, in 1812, under a charter granted by the regents. The institution flourished many years, but has recently been discontinued, and its professors have been transferred to the new Medical College recently established at Albany. The faculty of this institution combines much talent and learning
A faculty of medicine equally respectable and efficient has been established at Geneva College, and is diffusing medical knowledge very extensively to the numerous candidates for the honors of the profession in the western region of the state. The medical schools last mentioned have received liberal aid from the public treasury, and they deservedly enjoy the nurturing care of the regents of the university.
Returning from this brief account of institutions for medical education to our notice of the early progress of the healing art, we find a short paper written by Michaelis during the Revolutionary war, showing the importance of opium as applicable to certain conditions of the human system, being an essay containing interesting results of his practice among the foreign troops. North, a physician attached to the British army in New York about the same time, introduced his apparatus for facilitating the inhaling of medicated vapors, since so widely approved in Europe. Magrath, an Irish physician in the same city, deserves to be remembered for his strenuous efforts to introduce the cooling process of treatment of febrile diseases. Surgery found an intrepid operator in M‘Knight. Bailey, Bard, and Treat, were distinguished in clinical toil, and Crosby and Dingley are remembered as skilful practitioners.
Dr. Addams published, in 1791, the first American tract on the subject of yellow-fever. The subsequent recurrence of that pestilence in 1795 called forth essays by many medical writers; among whom were Buel, E. H. Smith, Mitchill, Seaman, and Bayley. The latter aimed to establish a distinction between infectious and contagious diseases, until that time too generally confounded by physicians.
The dreadful ravages of the yellow-fever in the United States, and reports too fearfully authentic of calamities inflicted by a like plague on the coast of Africa and in the West Indies, had created a spirit of philosophic inquiry into the origin of the disease, when Dr. Priestly arrived in this country. Recognised as the author of the gaseous philosophy, which was expected to throw new light upon the subject, his presence stimulated the eagerness of research into the nature of fevers and of pestilence in general. Dr. Mitchill put forth a treatise on the qualities of the nitrous oxyde gas, and entered into a controversy with Priestly concerning the nature of phlogiston. The recurrence of the disease with undiminished virulence in 1798, 1801, 1803, 1805, 1819, and 1822, prolonged the discussion thus commenced. Notwithstanding all that has been written, the nature of the pestilence is a mystery yet to be unfolded; but it is just to affirm that the learning, talents, and clinical acumen, which the subject has called forth, reflect honor upon the professors of the healing art.
The writings of Dr. Miller, and his new nomenclature of febrile and pestilential diseases, have had a wide circulation. The numerous contributions to medical science by Dr. Hosack, have had much influence on the minds of professional and general readers; and he is distinguished for having projected a new classification of contagious diseases.
In 1816, a new topic of inquiry was presented here, as well as in Europe, involving the question whether the human system was susceptible of the yellow-fever a second time. Dr. Francis, then in London, addressed a letter of inquiry on the subject to the medical faculty of the United States; and the result of the testimony acquired seemed to show, that after one visitation, the human constitution has generally an exemption from that dis
Dr. Townsend, in his treatise on the yellow-fever as it manifested itself in 1822, corroborated this conclusion; but after all, on a point of such deep interest to humanity, further inquiry seems desirable.
Dr. Hugh Williamson's "Observations on the Climate in Different Parts of America, compared with the Climate in Corresponding Parts of the European Continent,” is a work of much interest. His exposition of the meliorating effects of cultivation of the earth upon the temperature of the country, is very cheering to the philanthropist. The disquisitions of Dr. Samuel Forry, on the climate of the United States, and its endemic influences, challenges the attention of the philosopher as well as of the physician.
A disease designated by several names, as "spotted fever," “malignant typhus,” “typhoid pneumonia," and other appella
tions, prevailed extensively in 1812 and 1813. Treatises on this pestilence were given to the public by North, Hosack, Hudson, Arnell, and several other contributors to the New York Medical Repository, and to other periodical journals.
The appearance of the cholera asphyxia, in 1832, at New York and at Albany, and shortly afterward its extensive ravages in other parts of this state and the United States, awakened medical ardor, and the new enemy was encountered with energy and with clinical acumen. It numbered four thousand victims in New York, and was proportionably not less fatal in Albany. Francis, Paine, M‘Naughton, and Reese, were distinguished by their examinations into the origin and nature of the disease. It is deeply to be regretted that we are still without a direct and perfect history of this, and the various other epidemics which have prevailed at different periods. The influenza spread over our territory in 1807, in 1811, and in several subsequent years. The scarletfever and measles have, during the last twelve years, been unusually rife, and the varioloid, or modified small-pox, has again and again intruded, and sometimes with great malignity. Have the two former diseases acquired more power with their increasing virulence? Has the frequent recurrence of the varioloid a tendency to impair confidence in the efficacy of vaccination? These are inquiries in which the happiness of mankind is deeply interested.
Previously to the Revolution, and for some time afterward, the art of surgery was neglected. The United States furnished no schools, and chirurgical knowledge was confined to those who had received a foreign education. A post-mortem anatomical examination is recorded as early as 1691. The subject was the body of Governor Sloughter, who had suddenly died under circumstances creating a suspicion of poison. The account of the dissection was sufficiently minute and satisfactory to do away the imputation, and the pathological conclusions of the surgeons concerning the cause of death corresponded with the received doctrines of that age. The earliest anatomical dissection, for the purpose of imparting knowledge, was performed in 1750, by Doctors John Bard and Peter Middleton; the subject was a convicted felon.
John Jones, already mentioned as one of the faculty of King's College, first performed the operation of lithotomy in the city of New York. He produced, in 1775, “Plain Remarks upon Wounds and Fractures," which was the first surgical treatise printed in America, and became a text-book. Dr. Bayley, in 1782, successfully performed the operation of amputating the arm at the shoulder-joint, which had not before been attempted in this country. Dr. M‘Knight, in 1790, accomplished a bold and difficult operation in obstetrics, until then unattempted here, except in a case thirty years before, when it was performed by Dr. John Bard.
Surgery is now taught in all our medical schools, and facilities are afforded in them all for the study of practical anatomy. Yet there is a deficiency of advantages for imparting that perfect clinical instruction that can only be given in an infirmary, where the various surgical operations are performed for the relief of patients. The New York Hospital is the only institution in the state possessing such advantages. This institution was founded in 1770, at the suggestion of Dr. Bard; but the war prevented its being open for the reception of patients until 1791. The students of the medical schools in New York enjoy the advantages it affords. Among the surgeons who have acquired reputation since the Revolution, we may name Dr. Wright Post, who has the merit of having, in 1817, first performed successfully the operation of tying the subclavian artery. In 1818, Dr. Mott tied the arteria innominata, in the person of a patient who had a subclavian aneurism, an operation never before attempted. The difficulty of performing this operation, without fatal consequences, results from its effects to stop almost the whole direct supply of blood from one side of the head, and from one arm. The patient died twenty-six days after the operation, in consequence of secondary hemorrhage; but it satisfactorily appeared that the ligature had not prevented a necessary supply of blood, and thus one source of apprehension concerning this operation was removed. It has been repeated once by Graefe, of Berlin. His patient died sixty-seven days after the operation. Dr. Mott, in 1827, applied a ligature to the common iliac artery, to cure an aneurism, an operation never before attempted for that purpose; and in 1828, he exscinded the clavicle in a case of osteosarcoma of that bone, an operation, until that time, unknown in surgery.