The N.E.M.A. Annual Meeting Minutes, Portland

In 1897, Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association of the United States of America, for the years 1896-97 was published.  It detailed the minutes of the NEMA Annual Meeting held in Portland from June 15th through 17th.   W.E. Bloyer, M.D., whose photograph appears on the frontispiece, was the newly elected President of NEMA.  NEMA’s Secretary, W.E. Kinnett, M.D., notes in the Preface of this Annual printing that John K. Scudder, one of the most frequently published authors in Eclectic Medicine, took the responsibility of securing the financial and material contributions needed to publish that year’s annual report.

Five Eclectic medical colleges were then in operation and recognized by the Association: Eclectic Medical Institute, Cincinatti, American Medical College of St. Louis, Eclectic Medical College of New York, Bennett College of Chicago, and United States Medical College of New York.  A number of resolutions were then submitted and passed by the Association.  They resulted in the acceptance of four Eclectic medical colleges to the NEMA: California Medical College at San Francisco, Georgia Eclectic Medical College at Atlanta, Eclectic College of Physicians and Surgeon in Indiana, and the Eclectic Medical Department of the Cotner University in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Also at this meeting, a strongly worded resolution was passed demanding that the “regular” or allopathic term “irregular” not be used when referring to Eclectic Medicine and the other alternatives.  A “Fund for Defense against Prosecution” was set up to defend the members of NEMA against “unjust oppression from State Boards of Health and Medical Examining Laws” and to provide funds to support those who are made victims of “unjust discrimination against Eclectic physicians.”   The Annual membership fee was set at seven dollars for the first year, and five dollars per year for every year thereafter.

In the By-Laws section of these Transactions, the requirements for receiving the degree of Doctor of Medicine were given.  Candidates for graduation had to be “twenty-one years of age, and have pursued the study of medicine for the period of time prescribed by, and fulfilled the minimum requirements of the National Confederation of Eclectic Medical Colleges.”  Minimum requirements included:

I.  Preliminary Requirements:

1.  Credible certificate of good moral standing.

2.  A good English education, to be attested by:

(a) first-grade teacher’s certificate;

(b) a diploma from a gradded high school, or literary or scientific college or university;

(c) regents’ medical student’s certificate.

3.  An elementary knowledge of natural history, physic and Latin.


II.  Branches taught shall include:

(a) anatomy;

(b) physiology;

(c) chemistry and pharmacy;

(d) materia medica and therapeutics;

(e) principles and practice of medicine;

(f) pathology;

(g) surgery;

(h) obstetrics and gynaecology;

(i) hygiene;

(j) medical jurisprudence;

(k) electro-therapeutics;

(l) microscopy;

(m) ophthalmology and otology.


III.  “That the length of instruction after July 1, 1895, (affecting graduates in 1899), shall not be less than four years’ reading, including four sessions of six months each, in four different calendar years, or four years’ reading, including three sessions of eight months each.”


IV.   Attendance and examination of quizzes.

1.  Regular attendance during the entire lecture courses should be required…absences not to exceed more than 20 per centum of the course.

2.  Regular examination of quizzes be made by each professor or lecturer daily, or a t least twice each wek.

3.  Final examinations on all branches to be conducted by competent examiners.

      Dissections, clinics and hospital attendance.

1.  Each student shall have dissected during three courses.

2.  Attendance during at least three terms ofclinical and hospital instruction shall be required.

A final note acknowledges matriculating students in pharmacy, dentistry and midwivery be allowed credit for one year’s worth of study, assuming the courses taken were part of a regular medical school program.   Requirements of the schools that wished to be accepted by the Eclectic Medical confederation were “a sufficient and competent corp of instructors, and the necessary facilities for teaching, dissection and clinics.”   This section was concluded by stating:


Following the Election of Officer, establishment of Quorum, coverage of an item pertaining to “Surrender of Membership” due to failure to pay dues, the “Order of Business,” mention of the established rules regarding “publication of Transactions,” the special sessions were begun.

“Standing Resolutions” then took place with regard to:   

Textbooks accepted:  Albert Merrell, M.D. Digest of Materia Medica and Pharmacy, a resolution first adopted in 1885.  King’s American Dispensatory, a resolution first adopted in 1879.  Dr. Alexander Wilder was again authorized to begin work on a History of Medicine text, a resolution first adopted in 1890.

“ABORTION.  Resolved, That the growing evil of the practice of Abortion, perpetrated, as we believe, by individuals from every branch of the profession, is an abuse justly alarming to society; and that we hereby record our qualified condemnation of this wicked and cruel practice, and also of all the physicians, of whatever school, who engage in it.–Adopted October 5, 1871.”

Oregon’s Herschel E. Curry served as Second Vice-President.

MOTTO:  Vires Vitales Sustinete

The opening comments of this meeting:

“The National Eclectic Medical Assocoation of the United States of America convened in annual session, pursuant to adjournment, at the Chamber of Commerce Building, in the City of Portland, Oregon, on Tuesday morning, June 16, 1896, and was called to order at the appointed hour by the President, Wm. E. Bloyer, M.D., of Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Prayer was offered by Rev. Edgar P. Hill, of Portland, Oregon.”

Present were the following officers:

W.E. Bloyer, M.D. President

G.W. Johnson, M.D., First Vice-President

Herschel E. Curry, Second Vice-Presidents

W.E. Kinnett, M.D., Recording Secretary

E.H. Carter, M.D., Corresponding Secreatary

W.T. Gemmill, M.D., Treasurer.

“W.S. Mott, M.D. or Salem, Oregon, on the part of the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Association, delivered the following:”


Mr. President, Ladies, Fellows of the National Eclectic Medical Association, and Visitors:

“With a deep sense of my inability to address you on this occasion, I am frank to admit that I am exceedingly proud to have the honor, on part of the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Association, to welcome you to this great State of Oregon.  I am proud of the honor, because the first time that any man in the medical profession has had the priviledge of extending a greeting to the National Eclectic Medical Association in any State west of the Rocky Mountains, it is my priviledge, on the part of our Oregon Auxiliary Association, to extend to you a most cordial welcome to our glorious webfoot State.  I am not only proud to have the honor to thus welcome you, but to be able to welcome you to “God’s own country,” as we have many reasons to endear our State by that appellation, and although we do not desire to boast of the blessings bestowed upon our State, we do sincerely assure you that our State is teeming with more underdeveloped wealth, and more natural advantages that any other State represented in the stars of our “Old Glory.”

“Our natural resources and advantages are so extensive and so varied that we can produce everything in abundance in agriculture that can be successfully grown in the North Temperate Zone.  Within our borders we can produce, horticulturally, everything that can be produced in the world.  Our forests contain an almost inexhaustible supply of the best lumber.  In mineral wealth we possess almost everything to be found beneath the surface of the earth; and the grand old Pacific, and our scenic Columbia and its tributaries and other rivers of the State afford us all the advantages of the sea, and its commerce with all parts of the world.  To all of which we bid you welcome.”

“Our people,—well, our people, except those who were born here, are from every place but this, and to use Pat’s expression: “They would surely be from this if a better place could be found.”  Many of them are roaming borthers, who left the east in an early day and came here like wise men and were wise enough to stay, for their own benefit and possibly for the welfare of their eastern friends.

“Our genial climate with its mild, moist winters, resembles somewhat the joyful tears of a beautiful, brown-eyed weeping maiden; our joyous floral spring time, and our balmy summer days of brightest sunshine, followed by the everpresent coolness of the night, our superb autumn is a blending of summer again into our evergreen winter, making a round of seasons merging one into the other, producing a climate that is conducive to health, happiness, and good citizenship, to all which we bid you thrice welcome.

“This great State was formed as no other State in the Union was formed.  Inhabited first by the aborigines, from where we know not, then by the Astor, the North-West and Hudson Bay Comapnies, who occupied the land jointly with the Indians, later the heroic trappers carried the tidings East across the continent to the then western frontiersman, that a veritable Garden of Eden existed in reality in the Valley of the Wilamette “where the clouds drop fatness and the earth is evergreen.”  The response to this was the sturdy frontiersman with his family, drawn by his faithful ox team, the consequence of which was, that in four years from the time the first wagon crossed the Rocky Mountains, the country south of the Columbia was occupied principally by Americans, and England agreed that the 49th parallel of north latitude should be the boundary between the two countries.  This sturdy people, previous to the settlement of the Oregon question, isolated as they were from civilization, on the east by the vast expanse of prairie inhabited only by savages and wild beasts, and on the west by the trackless Pacific, formed for themselves a provisional government on whose banner they inscribed the grandest and most independent motto ever written on any ensign: “Alis Volat Propriis,” and “she did most heroically fly with her own wings.”  Those were times that tried men’s souls, but Oregon’s pioneers were equal to every emergency–“they made the valleys laugh with corn, and opened up the mountain pass, strong men of old, like vikings bold, who dared to die by field and flood, upon their dented shields no crests, no golden orders on their breasts, but iron in their blood.”  These were Oregon’s pioneers who kept their power dry and put their trust in God.  This provincial government lasted from July 5, 1843, to March, 1849, when Uncle Sam reached forth his long, strong arm and took in the grand old Webfoot bird, that had so nobly and successfully flown with her own wings for almost six years.  Thus settling the great Oregon question which had agitated Congress for so long.

“And now, as of yore, “the clouds still drop fatness and our earth is evergreen.”  This is the land to which we welcome you, in whose fertile soil the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Association has been firmly planted, that it has partaken somewhat of the freshness and vendancy of its native clime, and with all sincerity and fraternal feeling we hope that your memory of our State and its Association will ever remain as fresh and green as we, and the perpetual verdure of our valley and mountains, and finally we once more welcome you to our state and all that is good and grand and pleasant therein.”

Dr. J.W. Hamilton of San Francisco responded to this  Address of Welcome. 

This meeting was then directed to Dr. Curry of Baker City, who addressed the local entertainment issue.  The focus was on “an excursion, tendered by Parke, Davis & Co, by electric cars to Oregon City, on Wednesday afternoon; also an excursion by rail in observation cars to “The Dalles,” on Friday.”  St. Louis doctor E. Younkin moved to vote on who would participate in this excursion on Friday, to which all replied affirmatively.  President Bloyer’s Annual Address was read to the Association, followed with a motion made by Drs. H.L. Henderson and W.S. Mott o Oregon, and Dr. E.J. Farnum of Illinois, to invite those who are members to participate in the readings and discussions of the papers.

Various committee members were next appointed by the President, including Oregon doctor H.E. Curry, who served on the Committee of Grievances, and Dr. H.L. Henderson, who servied on a Special Committee designed to deal with unresolved issues involving Dr. A.J. Currie, of Glasgow, Scotland. The remaining Oregonians participating in this meeting were those who presented their papers over the next two days. 

The Annual Address

The last issue referred to by the Secretary in the Association’s Annual Report was a delicate one, and was of utmost importance in view of the changes that were then taking place in both the regular and alternative medical worlds.  Licensure had become a national issue, and the qualifications for licensure in many states had come to depend upon the decisions made mostly by members of the allopathic profession.  Such decisions took place primarily due to the long history practitioners of allopathy had with the state and federal governments.  A political game had therefore surfaced beteen regular doctors, who for most of the previous century as based substantial amounts of their practice on colonial medical procedures.  With that embarassing stance reversed due to discoveries and changes made during the Civil War, the regulars again had begun to dominate the healing faiths then taking place.  

With allopaths alone comprising the state medical boards for most states, eclectic medical doctors were at a political disadvantage.  One of them, dr. Currie of Scotland, had bemceom a member the year before, but lacked the credentials needed to remain a member.  This in turn was due to his reception of a license from a Kansas school which no longer existed.  That Kansas School….id?

Dr. William E. Bloyer explained this in his Address speech, following comments he made on the value of the state medical boards and their need to remain active in obtaining new members:

“After your young man becomes versed in State Society affairs and has become a worker, see that he unites his forces with those of the National; but the man who is inactive in State affairs usually remains so when it comes to National interests….Of our National and State membership we can’t be too careful or circumspect.  Membership should not be conferred upon any man with the idea that it will help him.  No man should be taken into any medical soceoty with any other idea than that his help and influence will benefit the Society.  Last year there was received into this Society, as a delegate from Kansas, a resident of Glasgow, Scotland, who claims to be eclectic.  In correspondance with members of the Association he said he received his degree from an instiution in this country, but without attendance.  We all know what that means.  Many of us, too, know that the institution he names is a most disreputable affair.  He either imposed upon the kindness of our Kansas friends, or he was received without sufficient inquiry.  No foreigner will seek to join our Associations unless he expects to receive benefit.  The Associations should not prostitute themselves to benefitting foreigners with purchased American degrees.”

In earlier years, Kansas had numerous alternative schools of small size and nature.  …

In his Annual Address, Bloyer defined the Eclectic physician:

“A characteristic of the eclectic practitioner is his implicit faith in his medicines.  He knows that they will cure.  Others do not have this faith.  They have studied preventative medicine, theoretic medicine, and everything but curative medicine.  To this last eclectics have devoted their lives.  Hence they excel.”

Bloyer also defines in this address the political enemies of the alternative healer, not just their chief comeptitors, the regular doctors, but also the insurance companies:

  “The hand and grip of the bigot is most manifest to-day in the attitude and conduct of some of the largest and best-known life insurance companies of the country toward eclectic and homeopathic physicians.  They are boycotted because of their therapeutic beliefs–their school affiliations, and not because on incompetency or lack of knowledge.  In most instances, if not in all, this prejudice emanates in the office of the medical director, who is generally an antiquated old man, an appointee who has held the office for years; who has paid little attention to the trend of general medicine, who has not come in contact with the prejudice softening inlfuences of the times; and who is, rtherrfore, still imbued with the ideas of the relations between the schools that existed at the time of his appointment in the days of long ago.  This should not be so, for every priviledge that belongs to educated physicians should be ours.  It will not always be as it is now, for these aged and bigoted medical directors pass away, their places are taken by younger men–men of modern ideas, who are keeping pace with the times, and in whom rancor, prejudice and discrimination are not rampant.”

In recent years, the eclectics and homeopaths had begun to merge their political strengths.  This along with persistence on beahlf of the eclectic practitioners, enabled several states to form reputable schools licensed by the State Boards.  Some states had even succeeded in establishing independent examining boards.  The Texas Medical Society had until recently been solely allopathic in nature. 

[Greek: eklektikos, from ek-out and legein-to select.]

“the word “eclectic” literally means “to choose,” or “to selct,” we are not, as a school, simply judicious rejectors, or arrogant chosser of other people’s good things.” [p. 28]

He claims the electics had their own “distinctly eclectic remedies” and their physicians, those who are “soon recognized by everybody with whom they come in contact.” [p. 29]

“It is only thropugh these eclectic remedies and our methods of administering them that we have deserved to exist as a separate school of medicine, and our future existence should depend upon our inclination and ability to maintain them against all competition, and to further work we have so well begun.” [p. 29]

He makes a statement on his perceptions of the future of homeopathy: [p. 30]

“As we see it, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in the future for homeopathy.  And long, long years after you and I are dead and gone allopathy will still be hunting for the “Fountain of Youth,” the Philosopher’s Stone,” a universal germicide, or something else which they will be just as unlikely to find.  Allopathy has become a school of fancy, of fads of vague theories, of much speculation–a close corporation of erratic dreamers, or hypothetical speculators–of theorists, and of slaves to the synthetic and coal tar products of German laboratories–in short, to the foreign patent medicine vendor.  The future has little in store for allopathy except, perhaps, an occasional accidental discovery that may emanate from some of their own many well-equipped laboratories, or from a physician of their school whose soul is his own and who does not wholly follow authority.”

This knowledge came to them through the Eclectic schools which they established.  These new remedies have constantly remolded their belief systems and the related protocols.  Dissemination of these discovereies was assited by the publication of numerous trade journals on Eclectic Medicine.  Nopt only did this break down the barrier once erected due to prejudices, they also set the paths needed for discoveries made by eclectics to be disseminated into the allopathic profession for its later acceptance and use.  Such a situation existed causing chagnes to take place when Parke Davis moved to take on the Eclectic remedies noted by Bundy, negate this difference the eclectics had. [29-30]

Reports from States

Reports were given by Arkansas, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michgan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Tennesse, Texas and Wisconsin.  Most of them were a page or less; the New York report, submitted by Dr. E.B. Foote, comprised over ten pages and details the history of its schools and various sects.   The report from California by B. Stetson, M.D., noted its Eclectic Medical Society established in 1874.  It notes its most prosperous Eclectic college, the California Medical College establishe in 1878, the same year that Parke, Davis & Company first published notes on the Far West’s medicinal plants.  About thirty students graduated each year from this school’s Eclectic M.D. program.  

The Oregon report was of moderate size:

“Previous to the birth of our present State Eclectic Medical Assocation there is no evidence on record showing that an eclectic physician ever exited in Oregon.  If there ever were any they evidently went on the principle of “every fellow for himself and the devil take the hindmost.”  The Oregon State Eclectic Association was born at high noon September 4th, 1890.  The infant was small but strong, and had an abundant supply of good, healthy blood for its size, hence its vigor.  Its birth was also legal, being under the laws of Oregon, incorporated the day and date above written.  Its obejct being to maintain organized co-operation between physicians for the purpose of promoting the art and science of medicine and surgery and the dissemination of beneficial knowledge and an improved practice of medicine.

“Our State Association having been planted in the fertile soil of Oregon, with its home in Salem, the Capitol of the State, among an intelligent, energetic, progresive people, has taken firm root and beconme one of the permanent organizations of the State.  In other words we are here to stay.  We have not fluorished like the proverbial “green bay tree,” neither are we like “small potatoes and few in a hill,” buit more nearly like to other oft repeated saw about finest good being found in small packages.”

“Our State Society was organized with five charter members, viz: W.S. Mott, M.D., President, Salem; S.A. Davis, M.D., Vice President, Salem; S.C. Brown, M.D., Recording Secretary, Mills City; R.O. Loggon, M.D., Corresponding Secretary, Philomath; J.W. Wyatt, M.D., Treasurer, Lyons.  Our membership has very slowly increased to the present membership of fifteen, of which six of the most active members attend every meeting and are known to the association as the unterrified, and they can be depended upon to defend the cuase of eclecticism by the State Association with as much assurance as Napoleon depended upon his old guard, “they may die, but they never surrender.”  And it is the sincere desire and expectation of the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Association that every eclectic physician in the State will join the association and become an active member within the next year.

“Our State Association has not as of yet any auxiliary societies.  Oregon has a State Board of Medical Examiners, composed of three Allopaths, one Homeopath, and one Eclectic, and a medical law that recognizes no school, sect or creed.  If the Angel Gabriel were to descend to earth in Oregon to toot his horn for the healing of the people, our law, or its Board would not allow him to toot his horn a second time without first paying a fee of ten dollars and passing an examination of a medical and scientific character sufficiently rigid to test his ability in the healing art.   No one can pass the Board unless at least four of the five members shall vote to pass him.  The examination is fair and no ordinaily well-posted eclectic should fail to pass it.  While the law is not the best it is better than one previous (a full Allopathic Board of three).  We have a good location for fifty or more posted, up-to-date, honorable, fearless, energetic Eclectic M.D.’s in Oregon, and they will always find the latch string in the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Assocoation hanging on the outside.  Pull the string my Eastern and Southern brother, and we will welcome you. Honorable Eclectic M.D.’s  are at par in all parts of the State and wherever located, they command the respect of the best people in their community.  And the fact that our Eastern brethren have condescended to bring the National Eclectic MEdical Association acrtoss the continent to meet in our metropolis, is still antoher evidence, held dear to us, that we command the love respect and recognition of the greatest medical and scietific body of men in the nation.

“The officers of the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Assocation this year are as follows: G.W. McConnell, M.D. President, Newberg; H.E. Curry, M.D., Vice-President, Baker City; Jas. Surman, M.D., Second Vice-President, Portland; W.S. Mott, M.D., recording Secretary, Salem; H. Michener, M.D., Corresponding Secretary, Halsey; S.A. Davis, M.D. Treasurer, Salem.

“Salem.                    W.S. Mott, M.D.”

Full Title:  Transactions of the National Eclectic Medical Association of the United States of America, for the Years 1896-97, Including the Proceedings of the Twenty-sixth Annual Meeting held at Portland, in the State of Oregon, June, 1896, together with the Reports, Papers and Essays, furniushed before the several sections in their sittings.  Edited by W.E. Kinnett, Secretary. Vol. XXIV. Published in Behalf of the Association.  Cincinnati: Sullivan Printing Works. 1897. 

xviii.  Minutes of the activities of the Standing Committees.




From xiv: “No report or paper presented to this Association, as herein provided, shall be excluded from the printed volume of Transactions except for the following reasons:

1. Imperfect prepartion.

2. Indecorum of language.

3. Unfriendly expression toward the Association.

4. Want of importance, or of pertinency to the subjects within the province of Association.

5. Insufficient means in the possession of the Treasurer to liquidate expenses of publication.”


p. 5.

p. 82.

pp. 46-56.

p. 37-38.

pp. 57-58.