- David L. Cowen
Smith, Peter (06 February 1753–31 December 1815), itinerant doctor and preacher, was born probably in New Jersey, the son of Hezekiah Smith, an “Indian doctor,” and Sarah (maiden name unknown). The family tradition that he studied at the College of New Jersey (Princeton) cannot be documented. He laid claim to “a slight classical education,” and his basic medical knowledge came from the “practice and experience” he had learned under his father. He was practicing medicine in New Jersey as early as 1777, for he reported having inoculated about 130 people for smallpox in the winter of that year. He sought out medical men as he traveled, and although he credited many friends in the profession for adding to his knowledge, he believed that “nature had made him a physician” and that “he was somehow providentially prevented” from becoming a regular practitioner. He was, however, acquainted with the writings of ...