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Barton, Benjamin Smith (10 February 1766–19 December 1815), physician and botanist, was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the son of Thomas Barton, an Episcopalian minister, and Esther Rittenhouse, the sister of the prominent American astronomer David Rittenhouse. Barton’s parents died before he was fifteen. At the age of eighteen he began medical studies in Philadelphia with ...

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Bigelow, Jacob (27 February 1787–10 January 1879), physician and botanist, was born in Sudbury, Massachusetts, the son of Jacob Bigelow, a Congregationalist minister, and Elizabeth Wells. He grew up on the family farm, which provided the Bigelows with their primary means of support. During his early years, his father emphasized pragmatic concerns, disapproving of his attempts to learn Latin. He was an observer of nature and enjoyed tinkering on the farm, inventing miniature saw mills and better rat traps. In 1802, at age sixteen, he entered Harvard. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in 1806, he attended the medical lectures of ...

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Carson, Joseph (19 April 1808–30 December 1876), physician and botanist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Joseph Carson, a merchant, and Elizabeth Lawrence. After obtaining his A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1826, he went to work in the drugstore of Edward Lowber in Philadelphia where he developed an interest in botany. He studied medicine with Thomas T. Hewson and obtained his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1830. After a period as physician to the hospital of the Philadelphia almshouse, he served as ship’s surgeon on the ...

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Darlington, William (28 April 1782–23 April 1863), physician, botanist, and author, was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, the son of Edward Darlington, a farmer who also found time to serve in the Pennsylvania legislature, and Hannah Townsend. Wanting to escape the drudgery of farm work that had restricted his schooling to a few winter months each year, at age eighteen Darlington persuaded his father to pay the necessary fees for his apprenticeship to study medicine with John Vaughan in Wilmington, Delaware. In return, his father required that he give up his inheritance of a share of the family farm....

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Hosack, David (31 August 1769–22 December 1835), physician and botanist, was born in New York City, the son of Alexander Hosack, a merchant, and Jane Arden. His early education was at private academies in Newark and Hackensack, New Jersey, and he entered Columbia College in 1786 as a liberal arts student. His principal interest, however, was in medicine, and he began as an apprentice under ...