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Surgery in America

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SURGERY IN AMERICA. If at any time one should purpose writing a history of the progress of surgery on the American con tinent he must not fail to remember that in the earlier part of its history America was abso lutely dependent on Europe, and could not he expected to reflect anything better in the direc tion of science than that which it received from its mother-country, Therefore, the most suit able introduction that could be made for the history of surgery on this continent would be a review of the status of the 17th century in Europe. Very prominent were two or three philosophical systems which had been banded down from previous thinkers. The skepticism of Montaigne, with its final reduction by Bayle to universal doubt or universal credulity, and the supernatural or mystic philosophy of flame, sometimes spoken of as the cabalistic or theosophistic, which includes the discoveries of Pascal and Malebranche, were the prevailing systems or methods of thought In the mean time Bacon had lived and died (1626), who, though he laid great stress on gunpowder and the compass, had but little respect for the dis coveries of Copernicus. Zoology and botany were fairly well advanced and had been ex tended by dissection and by classification. Hooke had discovered the cell and tad founded the cell-doctnne. Kepler and Galileo had been persecuted and had left their discoveries for others to verify. Newton entered the world some years after the date of the first expedition of the Mayflower (1642). Continental Europe had many universities, some of which have been discontinued or merged into others. Numerous academies of science had sprung up in different parts of Europe, and the present British Royal Society was remodeled in 1662 by Charles II. Nevertheless, all kinds of superstition prevailed, .alchemy flourished, witchcraft was in full bloom, necromancy was generally practised and the divining rod flourished, and all domestic animals were kept under cover during an eclipse lest they be threatened by dire pestilence of unknown character. In 1644 Harvey had published his work on the circulation of the blood, and in 1608 the microscope had been in vented by Lippersheim, although by some its invention is attributed to Jansen in 1620. At all events it was greatly improved by Hooke, who died in 1702. Logarithms were not in vented until the Arnerican colonies were nearly 100 years old (Napier, 1700) ; but the weight of air had been established by Toricelli in 1643.

Previous systems in medicine were then modi fied, to be reformed on the modified Paracel sism devised by Van Helmont or the humeral Yiews of Sy'vans and Willis. Sydenbant ap

pftred upon the scene about the titne of the first expedition of the Mayflower, and, until his death in 1689, the larger number of English physicians who came over in his day had been more or less under the influence of his teach ings.

The 17th century is important in the history of surgery, since superstition and self-satisfac tion grachtally gave way to the inductive method and improved habits of observation. Even among the Dutch, who settled new colonies in this country, surgery now assumed a dignified position, while among the English, French and Germans it had already attained something of this character. These were still, however, the days of the barber-surgeons, who were not con sidered gentletnen nor fit to associate with gen tlemen, who were, for the greater part, an uned ucated and illiterate class. The study of anat omy was still pursued with difficulty, the ban of the Church yet covering those who took part in any operation which was accompanied by the shedding of blood. In such a state were the mother-country, the Netherlands and France, while still worse off was Spain, at the time when the early adventurers or pilgrims from these various countries landed upon our shores and began to make American history.

Colonial History.— The English colonists brought their physicians with them on nearly all of their expeditions. Thus when Jamestown was founded, in 1607, we hear of one Wotten, or Woolton, who came out as surgeon of the London Company, who was even considered a gentleman among die others of the expedition, whether by courtesy or right it is not known. Walter Russel followed in 1608. Even within that first half-century came the need for some definite laws regulating the practice of medi cine, since throughout the colonies quacicery flourished to a considerable extent There was at this time little to attract travelers to this country except the spirit of adventure, which the better educated men possessed in minor degree. Many of the earlier physicians of the colonies were church deacons or politicians or both. Thus Samuel Fuller, who came to Ply mouth in 1620, preferred to be known as a deacon rather than as doctor, although he pmc tised medicine faithfully and, for his time, well. John Winthrop, Jr., was not only a physician but a statesman. In 1667 he became governor of the New Haven colony, and he must have enjoyed much repute in England since he be came one of the founders of the Royal Society. Up to 1692, 134 physicians had been catalogued as practising in the colonies. The first person executed for witchcraft was one Margaret Jones, who was also a physician.

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