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Archer, John (05 May 1741–28 September 1810), physician, patriot, and public official, was born in Maryland, either near Brinckley’s Mills, Cecil County, or near the present town of Churchville, Harford County, the son of Thomas Archer, a farmer and ironworks agent, and Elizabeth Stevenson. Archer attended the West Nottingham Academy in Cecil County and the College of New Jersey (Princeton), from which he received the A.B. degree in 1760 and the M.A. in 1763. Thereafter he taught school in Baltimore and studied theology. However, after a second examination by the Presbytery of New Castle, in 1764, the presbytery decided that it “cannot encourage him to prosecute his tryals for the Gospel ministry any further,” and he turned his attention to medicine. He became a pupil of Dr. ...

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Brownson, Nathan (14 May 1742–18 October 1796), physician and politician, was born in Woodbury, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Brownson and Abigail Jenner. He graduated from Yale College in 1761 and practiced medicine in his hometown. In 1769 he married Elizabeth Lewis. The couple moved to St. John Parish, Georgia, in 1774 and began working a 500-acre plantation. Brownson’s wife died in 1775, and the following year he married Elizabeth McLean, with whom he had two children....

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Burnet, William (02 December 1730–07 October 1791), physician, judge, and member of the Continental Congress, was born in Lyon’s Farms, a town located between Newark and Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the son of Ichabod Burnet, a physician who emigrated from Scotland, and Hannah (maiden name unknown). He was educated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) when it was located in Newark under Rev. ...

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Holten, Samuel (09 June 1738–02 January 1816), physician and public official, was born in Salem Village (now Danvers), Massachusetts, the son of Samuel Holten and Hannah Gardner, farmers. Several sources claim that his parents intended to send the youth to college. According to these accounts, as he was tutored for entrance exams his health declined and his parents decided to fit him for a career that would not require collegiate education. Subsequently, at about seventeen years of age, he served an apprenticeship of about a year’s duration with physician Jonathan Prince. By 1756 he seems to have started practicing medicine in Gloucester, where he married Mary Warner in March 1758; the couple had three children. Sometime in 1758 they moved to Danvers, where he may have entered a joint practice with his brother-in-law, Jonathan Prince, Jr. With the death of his partner in 1759, Holten became the town’s only resident physician, yet his business was modest. Unfortunately, the records are rather ambiguous on whether or not he encountered stiff competition from already established practitioners in the area, or merely inclined toward another calling, politics. Nothing for certain is known about his medical practice, which may have ended entirely by 1775....

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James McClurg. Engraving by Albert Rosenthal, 1888, after a painting by Gilbert Stuart. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-93489).

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McClurg, James (1746–09 July 1823), physician and delegate to the Federal Convention of 1787, was born in Elizabeth City County, Virginia, the son of Walter McClurg, a British naval surgeon (mother’s name unknown). His father had been sent to Hampton, Virginia, to open a hospital for inoculation against smallpox. Since the practice of inoculation had been introduced into the American colonies only a few years earlier, this was probably the first hospital of its kind in America....