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

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

by John S. Haller Jr.
     
 

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

See more details below

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.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The People's Doctors is a well-researched and eminently readable account of the Thomsonian movement and its innovative and at times exasperating leader. Discussion of the early botanic schools and details of the botanic schisms forms a truly important contribution to our understanding of American sectarian medicine and of the colorful men and women who shaped it.”—Michael Flannery, author of John Uri Lloyd: The Great American Eclectic

Product Details

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

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >