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While teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, one of his students was future president William Henry Harrison, who took a chemistry class from Rush.He was also founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.Rush's ideas on Yellow Fever treatments differed from those of many experienced French doctors, who came from the West Indies where they had Yellow Fever outbreaks every year.
Nonetheless, Rush accepted an appointment as surgeon-general of the middle department of the Continental Army.
Rush's order "Directions for preserving the health of soldiers" became one of the foundations of preventative military medicine and was repeatedly republished, including as late as 1908. Shippen's misappropriation of food and wine supplies intended to comfort hospitalized soldiers, under-reporting of patient deaths, and failure to visit the hospitals under his command, ultimately led to Rush's resignation in 1778.
In 1794, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
In the Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia, Rush treated patients with bleeding, calomel, and other early medicinal techniques that often were ineffective and actually brought many patients closer to their deathbeds.
Rush criticized General George Washington in two handwritten but unsigned letters while still serving under the Surgeon General.
One, to Virginia Governor Patrick Henry dated October 12, 1778, quoted General Thomas Conway saying that if not for God's grace the ongoing war would have been lost by Washington and his weak counselors.He was depicted serving in the Battle of Princeton in the painting The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 by the American artist John Trumbull.The Army Medical Service was in disarray, between the military casualties, extremely high losses due to typhoid, yellow fever and other camp illnesses, political conflicts between Dr. William Shippen, Jr., and inadequate supplies and guidance from the Medical Committee.He became a professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania in 1791, though the quality of his medicine was quite primitive even for the time: he advocated bloodletting for almost any illness, long after its practice had declined.He became a social activist, an abolitionist, and was the most well-known physician in America at the time of his death.At age eight, Benjamin was sent to live with an aunt and uncle to receive an education. Rush was active in the Sons of Liberty and was elected to attend the provincial conference to send delegates to the Continental Congress.attended a school run by Reverend Samuel Finley, which later became West Nottingham Academy. Redman encouraged him to further his studies at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where Rush studied from 1766 to 1768 and earned an M. Thomas Paine consulted Rush when writing the profoundly influential pro-independence pamphlet Common Sense.There is not a king in Europe that would not look like a valet de chambre by his side." In 1783, he was appointed to the staff of Pennsylvania Hospital, and he remained a member until his death.He was elected to the Pennsylvania convention which adopted the Federal constitution and was appointed treasurer of the United States Mint, serving from 1797–1813.Benjamin Rush and General George Washington enter from the background, with Captain William Leslie, shown on the right, mortally wounded While Rush was representing Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress (and serving on its Medical Committee), he also used his medical skills in the field.Rush accompanied the Philadelphia militia during the battles after which the British occupied Philadelphia and most of New Jersey.