Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health [NOOK Book]

Overview

Before the advent of modern antibiotics, one’s life could be abruptly shattered by contagion and death, and debility from infectious diseases and epidemics was commonplace for early Americans, regardless of social status. Concerns over health affected the founding fathers and their families as it did slaves, merchants, immigrants, and everyone else in North America. As both victims of illness and national leaders, the Founders occupied a unique position regarding the development of public health in America. ...
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Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health

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Overview

Before the advent of modern antibiotics, one’s life could be abruptly shattered by contagion and death, and debility from infectious diseases and epidemics was commonplace for early Americans, regardless of social status. Concerns over health affected the founding fathers and their families as it did slaves, merchants, immigrants, and everyone else in North America. As both victims of illness and national leaders, the Founders occupied a unique position regarding the development of public health in America. Revolutionary Medicine refocuses the study of the lives of George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John and Abigail Adams, and James and Dolley Madison away from the usual lens of politics to the unique perspective of sickness, health, and medicine in their era. For the founders, republican ideals fostered a reciprocal connection between individual health and the “health” of the nation. Studying the encounters of these American founders with illness and disease, as well as their viewpoints about good health, not only provides us with a richer and more nuanced insight into their lives, but also opens a window into the practice of medicine in the eighteenth century, which is at once intimate, personal, and first hand. Perhaps most importantly, today’s American public health initiatives have their roots in the work of America’s founders, for they recognized early on that government had compelling reasons to shoulder some new responsibilities with respect to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizenry. The state of medicine and public healthcare today is still a work in progress, but these founders played a significant role in beginning the conversation that shaped the contours of its development. Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at Penrose Library and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She is the author of Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail: A History in the American West (NYU Press 2006) and Dr. Charles David Spivak: A Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement, as well as numerous articles in the fields of American, Jewish and medical history which have appeared in scholarly journals and popular magazines.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
We know their vaunted place in history: Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, and statesman, scientist, and pamphleteer Benjamin Franklin. But it’s their work in public health—and their personal battles with illness—that makes this blend of political and medical history so engaging. Abrams (Jewish Women Pioneering the Frontier Trail) notes that there’s nothing new about today’s contentious debate over health care; the nation’s founders were “acutely sensitive to health issues” affecting their families and community. Jefferson—who famously declared, “Science is my passion, politics my duty,” and made no effort to mask his disdain for doctors—used his power to advocate for smallpox vaccinations, while Madison pushed the effort further with one of the earliest health bills, the Vaccine Act of 1813. Martha Washington poignantly noted, “Sickness is to be expected”; indeed, her husband suffered recurring malarial fevers, Franklin had episodes of gout, Jefferson was plagued with dysentery, and Madison had petit mal seizures. Abrams’s meticulous medical portrait of colonial times—and its most powerful leaders—will be fascinating reading for students of both history and medicine. Illus. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"Revolutionary Medicine is a 'must-read' for anyone interested in the birth of America. Upon closing Jeanne E. Abrams's wonderful book about the illnesses and health experiences of the nation's founders, you will never be able to look at Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and their peers the same way again."-Howard Markel,author of An Anatomy of Addiction

"As America enters a new era of health care, this timely volume recalls what medicine was like in the days of the Founding Fathers. Everything from Washington's dental woes to Jefferson's troublesome headaches and Dolley Madison’s tragic encounter with yellow fever finds its way into this lively and well-researched book. In recounting battles over vaccinations, herbal remedies, the efficacy of blood-letting, and the appropriate role for government intervention in medical issues, Revolutionary Medicine reminds us that debates over health care are nothing new in America. They go back to our founders."-Jonathan D. Sarna,author of When General Grant Expelled the Jews

"Contemporary debates over medical research budgets and guaranteeing health insurance for all Americans echo conversations about the necessity of good health to the well-being and prosperity of the citizenry that began at the dawn of our national history. In lucid, accessible prose, historian Jeanne E. Abrams turns to the lives and experiences of George and Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams, James and Dolly Madison, as well as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to illuminate conversations about health, public and private, in our republic’s early years. Abrams's fine volume is a tonic for the frequent neglect of health and disease in so many histories of the early republic."-Alan M. Kraut,author of Goldberger's War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader

"We know their vaunted place in history: Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, and statesman, scientist, and pamphleteer Benjamin Franklin. But it’s their work in public health—and their personal battles with illness—that makes this blend of political and medical history so engaging...Abrams’s meticulous medical portrait of colonial times—and its most powerful leaders—will be fascinating reading for students of both history and medicine."-Publishers Weekly,

" Revolutionary Medicine...is a readable and eye-opening account. We know so much about the Founders, but we rarely pause to think just how difficult 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' can be when you lack a good doctor or science-based care."-The Wall Street Journal,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814759363
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 9/13/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 397,841
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at Penrose Library and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She is the author of Dr. Charles David Spivak: A Jewish Immigrant and the American Tuberculosis Movement, as well as numerous articles in the fields of American, Jewish and medical history which have appeared in scholarly journals and popular magazines.

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Table of Contents

Contents
Acknowledgments vii
Introduction:
Health and Medicine in the Era of
America’s Founders 1
1
George and Martha Washington:
Health, Illness, and the First Family 33
2
Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father
of American Medicine 79
3
Abigail and John Adams: Partners in
Sickness and Health 119
4
Thomas Jefferson: Advocate for
Healthy Living 169
5
Thomas Jefferson: The Health
of the Nation 199
Epilogue:
Evolutionary Medicine 231
Notes 241
Bibliography 277
Index 289
About the Author 306

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