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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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Bartlett, Josiah (21 November 1729–19 May 1795), physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Amesbury, Massachusetts, the son of Stephen Bartlett, a shoemaker, and Hannah Webster. Josiah Bartlett attended common school and at the age of sixteen was apprenticed to study medicine under Dr. Nehemiah Ordway of Amesbury. In 1750, seeking to set up his own practice, Bartlett settled in Kingston, New Hampshire, where he won quick acceptance for his fever treatments and his personal manner and demeanor. There, he married Mary Bartlett, a cousin from Newton, New Hampshire. Eight of the couple’s twelve children lived into adulthood....

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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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Clarke, Parker (03 April 1748–25 March 1823), surgeon and soldier, was born in Ipswich, Massachusetts, the son of Parker Clarke and Lydia Phillips. In 1769 he married Judith Lunt; they had three sons. After obtaining some medical training in New England, Clarke immigrated to Cumberland Township on the Isthmus of Chignecto in Nova Scotia. By 1770 he was living in Fort Lawrence, where he farmed and practiced medicine as a prominent member of the New England planter community, which by then formed the majority of the population on the isthmus and throughout Nova Scotia....

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Cadwallader Colden. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B04876).

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Colden, Cadwallader (07 February 1689–20 September 1776), physician, natural scientist, and lieutenant governor of New York, was born of Scottish parents in Ireland, where his mother (name unknown) was visiting. His father was the Reverend Alexander Colden of Duns, Scotland. Colden graduated in 1705 from the University of Edinburgh. He then studied medicine in London but, lacking the money to establish a medical practice in Great Britain, migrated to Philadelphia in 1710. Welcomed by his mother’s sister Elizabeth Hill, Colden established himself as a merchant and physician. He returned to Scotland briefly in 1715, where in November of that year he married Alice Chrystie of Kelso, Scotland. After their marriage they returned to Philadelphia; the couple had eleven children. During a 1717 visit to New York, Colden was persuaded by Governor ...

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Silvester Gardiner. Engraving after a painting by John Singleton Copley. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B012638).

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Gardiner, Silvester (29 June 1708–08 August 1786), physician and land magnate, was born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, the son of William Gardiner and Abigail Remington, members of a prominent New England family. Frail and bookish as a child, he roamed the nearby fields and learned the medicinal value of local plants. His brother-in-law, the Anglican missionary 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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Jones, Noble (1702–02 November 1775), carpenter, doctor, and political official, was born in Lambeth, County Surrey, England. The names of his parents are unknown. Jones married Sarah Hack before 1723. They had four children, one of whom died in infancy. The extent of Jones’s education remains unknown, but he acquired some skills as a physician, carpenter, architect, and surveyor by the early 1730s. He came to Georgia in 1733 as one of its first settlers. He worked diligently to succeed at his venture, and his many skills provided opportunities for profit and prominence. Jones helped construct the first buildings in Savannah, Georgia’s colonial capital. He assumed greater responsibilities upon the death of the colony’s two leading carpenters and physician in the summer of 1733. From 1748 to 1755 Jones formed a medical partnership with his eldest son, ...

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Marshall, Christopher (06 November 1709–04 May 1797), pharmacist and revolutionary leader, was born in Dublin, Ireland. His parents’ names are unknown. He received a classical education in England and developed an interest in chemistry. Marshall, a Quaker, married Sarah Thompson in 1735; they had three sons. His second marriage to Abigail, a Philadelphia Quaker, ended with her death in 1782. After moving to Philadelphia in 1727, Marshall started a pharmaceutical company. He was a religious man and in 1758 served as one of Philadelphia’s overseers of the poor....

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Mazzei, Philip (25 December 1730–19 March 1816), physician, merchant, and agent of Virginia during the American Revolution, was born Filippo Mazzei in Poggio-a-Caiano, Italy, the son of Domenico Mazzei, a tradesman, and Maria Elisabetta di Guissepe del Conte. He studied medicine in nearby Florence, and in 1755 he joined the practice of a Dr. Salinas in Smyrna, Turkey. By year’s end he took passage for England as a ship’s doctor. Shortly after his arrival in London in 1756, he began an import-export business that enjoyed moderate success for the next sixteen years....

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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....

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Pott, John (1591–1642?), physician and governor of Virginia, was the son of Roger Pott of Harrop, a hamlet of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, where John was christened on 19 December 1591. (His mother’s name is unknown.) Information on his early years is scant. Sometime before 1621 he married Elizabeth (maiden name unknown); there is no record of any children....

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Benjamin Rush. Engraving by James Barton Longacreof a painting by Thomas Sully. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-97104 ).

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Rush, Benjamin (04 January 1746–19 April 1813), physician, professor of chemistry and of medicine, and social reformer, was born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, thirteen miles northeast of Philadelphia, the son of John Rush, a farmer and gunsmith, and Susanna Hall Harvey. John Rush died when Benjamin was five years old. His mother ran a grocery store to support the family. She sent Benjamin at age eight to live with an uncle by marriage, the Reverend Dr. ...

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Thompson, Ebenezer (05 March 1737–14 August 1802), physician and public servant, was born in Durham, New Hampshire, the son of Robert Thompson, a yeoman, and Abigail Emerson. He attended local schools. Upon his father’s death in 1752 he shared with his mother, brothers, and sister the ample estate and began the study of medicine with Joseph Atkinson, a well-respected physician in the region....

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Thornton, Matthew (1714–24 June 1803), physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born in Ireland, the son of James Thornton and Elizabeth Jenkins. His family immigrated to America in 1717, settling first in Wiscasset, Maine, and soon after moving to the area around Worcester, Massachussetts. Both Wiscasset and Worcester had large Scotch-Irish populations....