1895 and 1896 were very important years in the history of Eclectic Medicine. 

The National Eclectic Medical Association was holding its  Twenty-fifth Annual Meeting of the National Eclectic Medical Association [NEMA] of the United States of America on Tuesday, June 18, 1895, at the Fountain Spring House, in Waukesha, Wisconsin.  Vincent A. Baker of Adrian, Michigan was then presiding and members of the Oregon State Eclectic Medical Association were present.

On Thursday, June 20th, at the Third Day,Final Session of this meeting, Oregon Eclectic physician, Dr. H.E. Currey, was elected 2d Vice-President.  His duties would commence following this session and included preparation for the next year’s meeting.  Also present at the NEMA meeting from Oregon were Doctors G. W. McConnell, of Newburgh, Oregon, and Emil Kirschgessner, of Medford, Oregon.  By the end of that meeting, Portland, Oregon was selected as the site for the 26th Annual Meeting, winning this decision by receiving 21 out of the 41 votes recorded.  The other states Oregon ran against in this spot election were California [San Francisco], Georgia, Iowa, and Texas. 

Near the end of that meeting, W.E. Bloyer of Cincinatti, Ohio, gave a speech on the definitions of Eclectic Medicine, in which he gave the following definition of his profession.

“Any remedial system composed of selected parts of all systems, specificially a school of medicine in the United States, the followers of which principally employ indigenous vegetable remedies, and aim to conserve the vital energy of the patient.  They generally discard venesection and poisonous mineral remedies, and many of them in later years have embraced the German dogma of specific medication.”

In 1895, regular physicians were still practicing venesection on their patients.

Bloyer’s brief presentation was followed by W.N. Mundy’s “What is Eclecticism?” the same title held by many previous articles published in order to clarify this healing faith throughout the 1800s.  Recently, a new motto had been chosen for this sect, Vires vitales sustinete, sustain the vitality or energy of life. 

A number of reformations had taken place in medicine alienating certain members of this medical group and leading to the formation of various factions, each bearing different views of what healing faiths were necessary to define this field.  Whereas in New York, phrenology remained become a staple to many, initiated by the Fowler family in New York City, in the Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia area the belief in physiognomy and human temperaments became the common practice instead. 

A significant part of the ongoing disputes within the Eclectic profession dealt with such issues as education requirements, determining which parts of the practice of allopathy were to be allowed, and deciding upon how to interact with health care facilities so as to provide the necessary clinical training to these students.  In some cases, the decisions made greatly benefitted a single individual, such as when in Cincinatti the school decided to use Dr. Newton’s Infirmary to provide the students with their clinical trainings.  Few other eclectic schools bore doctors who had such impressive clinic space to provide training in.  This is in part what led to the now ongoing professional jealousy, especially since some regions which were homes to several eclectic schools may not have shared or fairly distributed the fair share of these added teaching services to all potential students. 

By the time of the 1895 annual meeting, clinical training was still a problem to these alternative healers.  Mundy’s talk did little to solve this seventy year old problem.  He next goes on to discuss the discoveries of new remedies by Drs. John King, I.G. Jones, and J. Scudder.  With the recent popularization of “Specific Medicines” over Polymedicine recipes, and comments made on the “Doctrine of Similars” and “Doctrine of Opposites,”  the actual route many doctors would take to continue to improve their healing faith had been left in a state of undecision.  In an 1892-3 gathering, Dr. H.T. Webster of California wrote “Direct medication as a term, comprehends the administration of remedies for immediate and positive restorative effect upon conditions of disease through direct action on parts involved.  It is peculiarly eclectic.”  By then the specific medicine was beginning to take precedent over all other healing practices.  Whatever the case of this limitation, it defined the Eclectic healing system, which would later come to Portland, Oregon.  As a final statement to this decision for change made by eclectics, Dr. Carriker of Nebraska professed at the 1893 meeting:

“No man can desire more liberal and natural principles for the basis of a rational system of medicine, than those of eclecticism, and superadded to eclectic principles, is specific medication, which is a distinctive and valuable part of eclectic therapeutics.”

Thus the thinking of many in this field became the agreement that no more did the eclectic doctor give only the best recipes of all sorts, without a strong scientific basis to their course of action.  These new herbal discoveries being made in recent years in north, south, east and western regions, matched the benefits of combined healing philosophies taken also from these four parts of the United States.  This open-minded policy led the changes made from the sect being simply one of “progressive medicine” to one of “modern medicine.” 

Closing sessions at this Wisconsin meeting dealt with the best way to promote eclecticism, how to deal with the tobacco issue and its effect on youths, and some final thoughts pertaining to medical boards.  The final message was the acceptance they had to “keep on our armor, and fight the battles of medical freedom” about to take place.   Doing so by making use of “the fearless and persistent energy that characterized the brave and noble founders of our school.”

These Transactions were issued in haste for members of the association were already preparing for the upcoming Portland Convention by the time they completed preparing the 1895 Transactions for publication.  On May 28, 1896, the Secretary W.E. Kinnett, M.D. wrote:

“We issue the present volume of the Transactions at this late date, because there were not sufficient funds in the treasury of the Association to publish them last fall, as we fully expected to do…We did not succeed in obtaining sufficient funds to warrant us in contracting for the book till about the tenth of May, and the work has been pushed to the utmost in order to get it completed before the Portland meeting, and on account of haste there doubtless will be some errors.”  The only errors later found in this publication were corrected by hand, and were in Edward B. Foote’s presentation, the final one. which was given on “Medical Examining Boards.”


(Editorial) “The Portland Meeting.”  Eclectic Medical Journal, Vol 56, no. 7 (July 1896), pp. 330-331.

W.E. Bloyer, M.D., Cincinatti, Ohio.  “The “Standard” and other Dictionary Definitions of Eclectic MEdicine.” pp. 210-213.

i, Preface.  

pp. 241-258.  Single corrections were penned in on pages 242, 243, 244, and 247.