Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Healthby Jeanne E. Abrams
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… See more details below
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.
-Intermountain Jewish News
"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
"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
"[Revolutionary Medicine] is a solid descriptive account of the medical world of our founding fathers."-Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"A University of Denver professor takes an in-depth look at the American medical landscape during the 18th century, a pre-antibiotic time of the epidemics and infectious diseases when Americans were also dealing with little projects like fighting the British for independence and establishing the United States."-The Denver Post
"Revolutionary Medicine fills a significant niche. Its subject is not entirely pristine, but Abrams adds much and synthesises masterfully. Her book deserves to be a source of reference and of reading pleasure for years to come."-Paul Kopperman, Social History of Medicine
- New York University Press
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Meet the Author
Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at the University Libraries 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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