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Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician

by Alyn Brodsky

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472550,803 (3.8)3
"While Benjamin Rush appears often and meaningfully in biographies about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, this legendary man is presented as little more than a historical footnote. Yet he was a propelling force in what culminated in the Declaration of Independence, of which he was a cosigner." "Rush was an early agitator for independence, a member of the First Continental Congress, and one of the leading surgeons of the Continental Army during the early phase of the American Revolution. He was a constant and indefatigable adviser to the most prominent figures of the American Revolution, notably George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams." "Even if he had not played a major role in our country's creation, Rush would have left his mark in history as an eminent physician and a foremost social reformer in such areas as medical teaching, treatment of the mentally ill (he is considered the Father of American Psychiatry), international prevention of yellow fever, establishment of colleges and medical schools, implementation of improved higher education for women, and much more."--Jacket.… (more)
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I just finished reading Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician by Alyn Brodsky. I am giving the book four stars only because I think chronological order, and more frequent listing of years as well as calendar dates would have helped readers. I am a fanatic of the subject of chronology.

I am a bit of a history buff and have often wondered about Benjamin Rush's role in history. He comes up prominently both as a doctor and as a patriot. I suppose I first learned of him in the context of his reuniting two former Presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as friends after their famous falling out.

His role and importance is greatly under-recognized. As a doctor he was very much a man of his times, and espoused treatments such as bloodletting that proved counterproductive. However, he can be regarded as a father of both preventative medicine and psychiatry. His role as a patriot is also under-appreciated. He was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and had a major role in fostering Thomas Paine's Common Sense. This pamphlet electrified the colonies.

To its credit, the book was not a hagiography. It highlighted Rush's constant conflicts with others that hampered both his reputation and reputation. I suppose it could be said that he traveled in an ethereal crowd, all people with strong personalities. He clashed with the likes of George Washington, not to mention others in the medical establishment. Highly religious, he kept jumping around among three or four sects of Christianity.

Perhaps two letters of condolence, on from John Adams, one from Thomas Jefferson sum in up best:

Adams wrote to Richard (Rush, one of Benjamin's sons) on 5 May 1813:

In what terms can I address you? There are none that can express my sympathy with you and your family, or my own personal feel. ins on the loss of your excellent father. There is not another person out of my own family, who can die, in whom my personal happiness can be so deeply affected. The world would pronounce me extravagant and no man would apologize for me if I should say that in the estimation of unprejudiced philosophy, he has done more good in this world than Franklin or Washington.


Thomas Jefferson's letter of 27 May 1813 to John Adams upon learning of the passing of their mutual friend:

Another of our friends of seventy-six is gone, my dear Sir, another of the co-signers of the Independence of our country. And a better man than Rush could not have left us, more benevolent, more learned, of finer genius, or more honest.
( )
  JBGUSA | Jan 2, 2023 |
This was a ho hum biography. Not particularly exciting, analytical, or insightful. ( )
  GoofyOcean110 | Apr 25, 2009 |
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"While Benjamin Rush appears often and meaningfully in biographies about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, this legendary man is presented as little more than a historical footnote. Yet he was a propelling force in what culminated in the Declaration of Independence, of which he was a cosigner." "Rush was an early agitator for independence, a member of the First Continental Congress, and one of the leading surgeons of the Continental Army during the early phase of the American Revolution. He was a constant and indefatigable adviser to the most prominent figures of the American Revolution, notably George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams." "Even if he had not played a major role in our country's creation, Rush would have left his mark in history as an eminent physician and a foremost social reformer in such areas as medical teaching, treatment of the mentally ill (he is considered the Father of American Psychiatry), international prevention of yellow fever, establishment of colleges and medical schools, implementation of improved higher education for women, and much more."--Jacket.

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