The People's Doctors: Samuel Thomson and the American Botanical Movement, 1790-1860

Overview

Samuel Thomson, born in New Hampshire in 1769 to an illiterate farming family, had no formal education, but he learned the elements of botanical medicine from a "root doctor," who he met in his youth. Thomson sought to release patients from the harsh bleeding or purging regimens of regular physicians by offering inexpensive and gentle medicines from their own fields and gardens. He melded his followers into a militant corps of dedicated believers, using them to successfully lobby state legislatures to pass ...

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Overview

Samuel Thomson, born in New Hampshire in 1769 to an illiterate farming family, had no formal education, but he learned the elements of botanical medicine from a "root doctor," who he met in his youth. Thomson sought to release patients from the harsh bleeding or purging regimens of regular physicians by offering inexpensive and gentle medicines from their own fields and gardens. He melded his followers into a militant corps of dedicated believers, using them to successfully lobby state legislatures to pass medical acts favorable to their cause.

            

John S. Haller Jr. points out that Thomson began his studies by ministering to his own family. He started his professional career as an itinerant healer traveling a circuit among the small towns and villages of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Eventually, he transformed his medical practice into a successful business enterprise with agents selling several hundred thousand rights or franchises to his system. His popular New Guide to Health (1822) went through thirteen editions, including one in German, and countless thousands were reprinted without permission.

            

Told here for the first time, Haller's history of Thomsonism recounts the division within this American medical sect in the last century. While many Thomsonians displayed a powerful, vested interest in anti-intellectualism, a growing number found respectability through the establishment of medical colleges and a certified profession of botanical doctors.

            

The People's Doctors covers seventy years, from 1790, when Thomson began his practice on his own family, until 1860, when much of Thomson's medical domain had been captured by the more liberal Eclectics. Eighteen halftones illustrate this volume.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809323395
  • Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1st Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

John S. Haller Jr. is a professor of history at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and the author of American Medicines in Transition, 1840–1910; Kindly Medicine: The Physio-Medicalism in America, 1836–1911; and A Profile in Alternative Medicine: The Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati, 1846–1942.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
Pt. 1 The Man and His Medicines
1 American Hippocrates 9
2 The Business of Medicine 31
Pt. 2 The Middle Years
3 Old Sammy's Agents 59
4 Botanico Curtis 84
5 The Marketplace and the Law 112
6 Botanic Conventions, 1832-1837 139
Pt. 3 The Diaspora
7 Schism 163
8 Progeny 187
9 Botanic Literary Tradition 213
10 With Friends like These 231
11 Reassessment 249
App. A Samuel Thomson's Patent for Fever Medicine 255
App. B Thomson's Materia Medica 257
App. C Constitution of the Thomsonian Friendly Botanic Society 260
App. D Test Resolution 263
App. E Thomsonian License for General Practice 264
App. F Constitution of the United States Thomsonian Society 265
App. G Constitution of the Independent Thomsonian Botanic Society of the United States 268
App. H United States Botanic Medical Journals, 1822-1860 271
App. I 1852 Platform of Principles 285
App. J Principles of Physio-Medicalism 287
Notes 289
Bibliography 337
Index 363
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