Introduction

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The Saratoga Medical Society provides us with a little more insight into the controversies leading up to the decision to form these groups.  A number of attempts had been made to control and legalize the practice of medicine in New York.  Aside from actual concerns regarding quackery, (the practice of a form of medicine that is for the most part unfounded, fictitious or misleading, and based upon personal judgment rather than professional training (my personal definition)),  the medical profession as a whole was concerned about the varying levels of service that physicians provided.  Some of these doctors were trained in Europe, attending classes or undergoing and apprenticeship the rules of which were distinctly different from those in the states.  Still other doctors were partially trained, enough to pursue a medical profession, but at times make serious errors on their patients, especially if surgery is required.

To counter this lack of supervision of medical training, various areas were trying to form societies beginning around 1783 and 1800.  For the most part, these societies formed, held one or more meetings,  assisted in the passage of local or state laws, and then each of the members went on their way professionally.   The Saratoga Medical Society formed in order to address this common place issue in early American history.  Hanging over this important piece of American medical history is the controversy regarding how it was presented by some of the early medical writers during the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Considered the fathers of American medical history in general, some of these writers provided us with material and interpretations of the history that at first appear very factural, but upon review end up being biased in one way or another. 

This is the reason for the series of articles published reviewing Saratoga Medical history.  The author goes through the details of establishing a society in these rural county settings, far from the largest urban centers where both population and medical practices are still growing much faster than in Saratoga.  There are several important points to note her, but the most important part of this work is the insights we are provided with the causes defined by the people who helped to form this medical society.

Source:  James J. Walsh.  History of the Medical Society of the State of New York.  New York State Journal of Medicine, Volume 6 By New York State Medical Association, Medical Society of the State of New York (1807- )  pages 291-3, 325-7, 361-3, 400-3, 432-5

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HISTORY OF THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

By JAMES J. WALSH, M.D., Ph.D.,

PART II.
HISTORICAL EVENTS.
CHAPTER I.
STORY OF THE FOUNDATION.

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THE fact that there had existed in New York City a society, under the title of The Medical Society of the State of New York, has led in many cases to confusion as regards the preliminary history of the medical organization that brought about the enactment of the law of 1806 and the establishment of the present Medical Society of the State of New York. The additional fact that some of the members who had been leaders in the earlier society in New York City became also very prominent in the legally established medical society, has been an added reason for this confusion. Wickes, in his “History of Medical Men in New Jersey down to the year 1800,” in the chapter in which he discusses the foundation of medical societies, seems at least to hint at the legal recognition of this earlier, so-called, medical society of the State of New York, as the explanation of the origin of the present State society.

Dr. Packard, who is always very careful and usually very clear in these matters of earlier history, in his chapter on the “History of the Journal Of Medicine Medical Societies, founded before the year 1800,” does not seem to have had a very definite notion as to the actual relationship of these various societies, in New York.[1] He mentions the “well regulated association of gentlemen for the advancement of the profession,” alluded to by Dr. Middleton, in his introductory lecture at the opening of the Medical School in King’s College in November, 1769, and its apparent successor, organized at the City Hall in New York, November 14, 1794, which assumed the name and style of the Medical Society of the State of New York, and then comments: “Hence it would appear that the Medical Society of the State of New York is the immediate and legitimate descendant of the medical society mentioned by Dr. Middleton in his address; though he adds, “in 1806 this Medical Society of the State of New York became the Medical Society of the County of New York.”

The impression that a direct relationship between these various societies could be traced existed at a very early period in the State society’s history; indeed before the society was 25 years old, there had crept into print a number of errors, with regard to the preliminary steps that led to the legislation of 1806. In order that there might be a correction of these misunderstandings, the editors of the New York Medical and Physical Journal in 1828 asked Dr. John Stearns to write the history of the preliminary steps that led to the legal establishment of the New York State Medical Society, which he did. This appeared in a series of numbers in the Journal and because of its absolutely authoritative value, deserves a place in extenso here.[2]

The editor of the United States Medical and Surgical Journal introduced Dr. Stearns’ articles as follows:

From the frequent inquiries made by the medical profession respecting the origin, organization, transactions, etc., of the Medical Society of the State of New York, we have been induced at the strong solicitation of many of our friends, to give a condensed history of that institution, with a synopsis of its transactions since its origin in 1806, to the present time. We have been greatly surprised to find that the profession in our own State should be so little informed in relation to the proceedings of this institution, and we can only attribute it to the limited circulation of its “Transactions”; presuming such to be the fact, we would respectfully suggest to the members of the Society, the propriety of adopting some more effective mode of circulation. Perhaps the plan now pursued by the Edinburgh MedicoChirurgical Society, and noticed particularly in our fourth number, page 126, might be deemed the best.

[1] History of Medicine in the United States, Packard, Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott, 1901.

[2] This account is usually attributed to the United States Medical and Surgical Journal, and, indeed, the editorial note at the beginning of it can scarcely fail to give the impression that it was an original article prepared for that Journal. At the end of the account, however, there occurs in small italics, the abbreviation, New York Medical and Physical Journal 1828. It is in this journal that Dr. Steam’s article was originally published, and it seems to have been especially prepared for it. This journal was one^ of the best, most widely circulated and deservedly popular medical journals of the time. It was conducted according to its title page, by Drs. John B. Beck, J. Augustus Smith, Theodric Romeyn Beck, D. L. M. Peixotto. and Alex. H. Stevens. All of these men were members of the faculty of the University of the State of New York, except Dr. Peixotto, who has the designation of Physician to the New York City Dispensary.

The synopsis we are about to give of our State Medical Society will doubtless be regarded as an interesting historical record of the various officers, members and the principal transactions of that institution. In the latter will be found many valuable practical facts from some of the most distinguished men who from time to time have adorned our profession and our State, and many of whom, now mingled with the dead, are cherished in remembrance for the high moral, intellectual and social virtues which distinguished them when living. —ed.

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Article I.—An Account of the Origin of the Law, “to Incorporate Medical Societies for the purpose of Regulating the Practice of Physic and Surgery in this State;” passed 4th of April, 1806. By John Stearns. M.D., of New York.

The influence which medical societies have had upon the profession, and the general misapprehension of their origin, impart an interest to this topic which I trust will not be deemed inappropriate. This interest is enhanced by the consideration that the time will soon elapse when those who were concerned in originating this law will have passed the confines of time, without having left a single record of the fact, by which the numerous errors which have obtained publicity in our scientific journals might be corrected, and justice rendered to whom it is due.

From these publications I shall select the following paragraph from a biographical notice of Dr. Bruce, in the first volume of Silliman’s Journal of Science: “Previous to the year 1805 the practice of physic in the State of New York was regulated by no public authority, and of course, was not in the happiest condition to promote the usefulness and respectability of the profession. To remove as far as possible the existing circumstances Dr. Bruce became an active agent, and in conjunction with Dr. Romayne and other medical gentlemen of New York, succeeded in establishing the State and County medical societies, under the sanction of the Legislature. This act may be considered among the first efforts made in this country to reduce medicine to a regular science, by investing the privileges of medical men in the body of the members of the profession.” The President of the New York County Medical Society in his inaugural address for 1824 also states, “that this is the parent society, from which the other institutions of a similar character throughout the State have emanated.”

Without multiplying similar quotations to evince the error of public opinion, I take this occasion explicitly to state that neither Dr. Bruce nor Dr. Romayne, nor this medical society nor any physician, then resident in the city of New York, had any knowledge of the preliminary measures which led to the formation of this law, or the most remote agency in procuring its passage through the Legislature. These measures were commenced exclusively in the County of Saratoga, with a view to reclaim the profession from that degradation and contempt to which it had been reduced by ignorance, professional broils, and the grossest empiricism.

Those who witnessed the original and progressive settlement of the northern and western sections of this State since the year 1790, will recognize the mania that infatuated the emigrants from the East and the ambitious projects formed by those who assumed the title of doctor. Many who had never read a volume in medicine were suddenly introduced to an extensive practice and to a reputation of such imposing authority, as to control the opinions of their superiors in science and to prescribe rules of practice for their government. Consultations were generally distinguished for gross controversies at the bedside of the patient, whose health and life were often immolated to the ignorance, prejudices or discordant theories of the contending physicians. Their skill was generally graduated by their ability to magnify the cures they had made. Gratifying, indeed, would it be, at this enlightened period, to be able to bear testimony to the total extinction of this relic of quackery, and to the abolition of that still more ridiculous and growing imposture, that indignity of our profession, which by the sign of a common vendor converts the July, 1906 (sic) medical office, designed for the cure of all diseases, into a private infirmary for curing only those which belong to a particular organ. But so great has been the change in public opinion, that empirics now seldom boast of their intuitive knowledge, their magic incantations, or their initiation into the mysteries of Indian practice; but are compelled to assume the appearance of learning, and to affix to their names the fictitious appendage of M.D.—a proof that scientific physicians will always be patronized as the public mind becomes enlightened. The ignorance of the practitioners so obscured the science of medicine at the period referred to, that reflecting physicians united in the necessity of adopting vigorous measures for a radical reform.

In 1796 a series of numbers were accordingly published in the newspapers of Saratoga, which directed the attention of the profession to the subject of instituting medical societies and ultimately led to the formation of a society in that county, consisting of twentyone physicians. But so discordant were its materials, and so incompetent to sustain the character of a scientific institution, that the year of its formation became the period of its dissolution. This want of success did not prevent the renewal of future efforts.

In November, 1805, another meeting was held, at which committees were appointed and a resolution passed to invite the co-operation of the physicians of the adjoining counties of Washington and Montgomery. The following is a copy of the printed circular issued on that occasion and evidently sent to all the reputable members of the medical profession in the three counties mentioned:

“Ballston, November 7, 1805.

“Sir,—At a meeting of the physicians of the County of Saratoga, convened this day at the Court House in Ballston, for the purpose of devising means to improve the practice of medicine, we were appointed a committee to impart the object and wishes of that meeting to our professional brethren in the counties of Washington and Montgomery. In that capacity we beg leave to recommend to your earnest attention the necessity of adopting some vigorous measures for the suppression of empiricism, and the encouragement of regular practitioners. The evil calls loudly for the united efforts of all who sincerely wish to remove from that valuable science the imputation of quackery; under which from the ignorance of some of its professors, it not unjustly labors. The wish of the meeting is to procure from the Legislature of the State their sanction to a medical society; and we request your attendance a the court-house in Ballston on the 16th of January, 1806, at ten o’clock, A.M., either in person or by a committee of your county, for the purpose of adopting the best means for obtaining an act of incorporation. We remain, &c,

“Wm. Patrick,
“John Stearns,
”Grant Powell,
“Committee of Correspondence.”

Pursuant to the notice in this circular, a delegation from these counties attended the adjourned meeting at the same place on the 16th of January, 1806. A memorial to the Legislature was then reported, adopted, and signed, and a committee of three, consisting of Dr. Asa Fitch, of Washington; Dr. John Stearns, of Saratoga; and Alexander Sheldon, of Montgomery, were appointed to carry the same into effect.

The committee from Saratoga and Montgomery attended the ensuing session of the Legislature, and fortunately for the cause of science, the latter gentleman, Dr. Alexander Sheldon, was elected speaker of the House. Although the meeting at Saratoga did not contemplate the extension of the law beyond the limits of these three counties, the committee assumed the responsibility of making it general, and of extending its privileges to every county in the State.

Accompanied with this explanatory view of the subject, they presented the memorial to the house of Assembly on the 25th of February, 1806, who referred it to a committee, consisting of William Livingston and Isaac Sargeant of Washington, Gurdon Huntington of Otsego, John Ely of Greene, and Joel Frost of Westchester. The majority of this committee being medical men, favorably received the proposed plan for a general law to extend the act of incorporation through the State, which they finally matured and reported to the House. The powerful opposition to the bill threatened its early and prompt rejection by a large majority. The speaker, the committee and several other members gave it a very able and vigorous support. But notwithstanding all the exertions and political influence of its friends, the danger to which the tranquility of the State would be exposed by the incorporation of forty distinct associations of physicians, was so magnified by the opposition, and the impression thereby made upon the House was so great, that but feeble hopes were entertained of its success.

At this critical juncture, when a decisive vote against the bill was every moment expected to be taken, the late Honorable William W. Van Ness rose its most eloquent and powerful advocate. And perhaps the preeminent powers of his parliamentary eloquence were never exerted with better effect. He refuted the arguments of the opposition, portrayed the benefits to the profession and to the public in such glowing colors, and with so much energy and zeal, that the opposition became feeble, the friends to the bill increased, and from that moment the successful issue was rendered certain. To his memory so the profession owes a monument of marble, with their gratitude deeply engraven upon its tablet.

On the first Tuesday of July, 1806, three months after the passage of the law, about twenty societies were organized pursuant to its provisions, and within two years scarcely a county in the State of any considerable population, was without a duly organized medical society— N.Y. Med. & Phys. Jour., 1828.

{To be continued.)

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(Continued.)

 
HISTORY OF THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

By JAMES J. WALSH, M.D., Fh.D.,

NEW YORK.

PART II.
CHAPTER II.
FURTHER LEGAL REGULATION.

As might very well have been expected the law of 1806 did not prove sufficient for the legal regulation of the practice of medicine. The attempt had been very bravely made to settle a difficult problem but the details had not all been thought of and in practice the act proved defective. Accordingly the next year the Legislature was appealed to for a further enactment, and this seems to have been obtained without much difficulty. It was passed a year later almost to the day, April 3, 1807. There were a number of interesting features in this new law. It created four classes of members from each district, one class of which was to go out of office annually so as to secure a proper succession and rotation in the representatives from the County Medical Societies to the State Society, and thus prevent any monopoly of medical influence. This constituted the most important part of the law, and introduced a feature that was to remain prominent in the Society for many years of its history.

While the previous law of 1806 had determined how the license to practice medicine should be obtained, it had not made any provision to punish those who practiced medicine without a license except that they were debarred from collecting their debts by process of law. It was realized even in the course of a single year that this penalty would not be sufficient and accordingly a penal clause was introduced into this new law. To the modern mind the penalty enacted does not seem to have been very stringent. A man who practiced medicine without a license was to be fined five dollars for every month that he had practiced, one-half of which was to go to the informer. Even with the triple value that money bore at the time, this will scarcely appear a punishment likely to prove deterrent, and yet it seems to have been reasonably successful in the accomplishment of the purpose for which it was intended.

Toward the end of the act, however, there are some clauses introduced, the full significance of which seem not to have been realized perhaps by the members of the State Society who had the legislation in hand. At least one of these peculiar provisions bears very much the character of what would be called in modern parlance a “rider,” introduced into the bill during its progress through the Legislature by some one who did not wish the profession of medicine well and who perhaps held a brief for some other parties. It may seem premature in the history of legislation to consider that such a device was successful. There is plenty of evidence, however, to show that the legislators of the olden times, even a hundred years ago, were not so much better than those of the present day as not to know how to accomplish a latent purpose and introduce unfortunate clauses into legislation that spoiled the effectiveness of expected reform of methods.

One of the obnoxious passages in the bill was that which provided that the penalty to be incurred should not be considered to extend to any apothecary nor to any person administering medicine who does not follow the practice of medicine as a profession. This left it free to the apothecary to prescribe almost at liberty so that many of the unlicensed practitioners found it advisable to open drug stores and do their prescribing over the counter. Some of the traveling quacks succeeded in evading the law under the pretext that they did not practice medicine as a profession because at certain intervals they applied themselves to some other occupation for a while and only set themselves to curing people of their ills when they found themselves in a new neighborhood where the people did not know even the ordinary popular remedies.

The most seriously defective paragraph in the act, however, and one which Dr. James McNaughton, subsequently a President of the State Society, did not hesitate to say practically nullified its effectiveness as a penal measure, was the last one, according to which nothing in the act was to be construed to debar any person from using or applying for the benefit of any sick person any roots or herbs, the growth or produce of the United States. This left the field completely open for the herbalists and indeed gave them a certain amount of State encouragement since this paragraph as much as declared that herbal medicines were harmless and that at least no evil could be worked by their administration. According to Dr. McNaughton this provision was taken advantage of very generally throughout the State, and there were a great many herb doctors who supposedly prepared their own medicines and who were thought, by at least the ignorant among the population, to possess many secrets that the ordinary practitioner of medicine had never had the opportunity of learning since they came from experience with plants and not from books.

The historical interest of this second law is indeed mainly concentrated in these considerations with regard to its nullifying provisions. We are accustomed to think of legislative sharp practices as mainly a thing of the recent times. With regard to medical laws particularly the general impression undoubtedly is that the Legislature would be either willing or unwilling to grant certain privileges and legal restrictions or else frankly to refuse them. There would be little thought of the possibility of supposedly favorable legislation turning out to have such provisions in it as gave added opportunities for the unlicensed practitioner of medicine to ply his avocation. We have in this legislative enactment, however, a very definite example of the opposite state of affairs, and so the act has a social as well as medical historical interest.

Because of this it has seemed worth while to quote the Act of 1807 in its entirety as a warning example, to legislative committees in the new century, of how carefully innocent looking amendments, supposedly meant to prevent infringements of individual liberty, must be scrutinized before definitely being accepted for enactment.

AN ACT TO AMEND AN ACT, ENTITLED. “AN ACT TO REGULATE
THE PRACTICE OF PHYSIC AND SURGERY,”
PASSED APRIL 3, 1807.

I. Be it enacted by the people of the State of New York, represented in the Senate and Assembly, that the members now composing the Medical Society of the State of New York, shall at their next annual meeting, divide the members of said Society from each of the four great districts into four classes, and one class of each of said districts shall go out of office annually: and the said Society shall by lot determine which class shall first go out of office, and so for each and even’ class; and the class whose seats shall first be vacated in each of the said districts, shall be called the first class, and the class whose seats shall next become vacated, shall be called the second class, and the seats of those which shall next become vacated shall be called the third class, and the seats of the members which shall last become vacated shall be denominated the fourth class; and the members now composing the said Society shall continue and remain members of the same until their seats shall become vacated in the manner above described, and until others shall be chosen in their places.

II. That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Medical Society of the State of New York whenever the seats of any of the members shall become vacant by the preceding section of this Act, to give information of the same to the respective County Society, to the end that such County Societies may supply such vacancy at their next meeting.

III. And be it enacted that in case there shall be August, 1906 [sic] an addition to the number of persons composing the Medical Society of the State of New York, that in that case it shall be in the power of the said Society at any of their annual meetings, and as often as they shall judge necessary, to alter and vary the classes to be established at their next annual meeting in such manner as that one-fourth of the members from each of the great districts as near as may be, shall annually go out of office.

IV. And be it further enacted that if the seat of any member of the Medical Society of the State of New York shall be vacated either by death, resignation or removal from the count}’, it shall be the duty of the Medical Society of such county to till such vacancy at their next annual meeting after such vacancy shall happen.

V. And be it further enacted that if any person not authorized to practice physic or surgery at the time of the passing of the Act hereby amended, or if any person since the passing of said Act shall have commenced the practice of physic or surgery without being legally authorized, every person who shall so continue to practice unauthorized shall forfeit and pay the sum of five dollars for every month such unauthorized practice is continued, to be recovered with costs of suit before any justice of the peace of the county where such penalty shall be incurred, by any person who shall prosecute for the same, the one moity of which when recovered, shall be paid to the person prosecuting for same, and the other moiety to the overseers of the poor of the town where the person incurring the penalty shall reside, for the use of the poor of such town; Provided, that the penalty to be incurred by the preceding section of this Act shall not be considered to extend to any apothecary or to any person administering medicine who does not follow the same as a profession, nor shall any prosecution be commenced by virtue of such section unless it shall be within thirty days after the penalty incurred. Nor shall the second prosecution be commenced or recovery be had in less than thirty days from the date of the first recovery; and Provided, Further, that nothing in this Act contained shall be construed to debar any person from using or applying for the benefit of any sick person, any roots or herbs, the growth or produce of the United States.

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CHAPTER III.

RELATION OF THE STATE MEDICAL SOCIETY TO THE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETIES.

The best idea of the relationship considered to exist between the State Medical Society and the several county medical societies can be obtained from the following circular communication, addressed to the county medical societies in 1809. It seems probable that most of this communication was the result of Dr. Stearns’ efforts to secure co-operation between the central body and the county organizations. It was he who had first thought of legally establishing a county medical society, and then broadened his ideas to recognize the need for a State organization. While showing the independence of the various societies, this letter also serves to demonstrate how closely they were related and how carefully an effort was being made to secure the fulfilment of the purpose of the law under which all the various societies were created. Special stress is laid upon the scientific objects of the medical societies and their possibilities for helping the development of practical medicine and the diffusion of scientific knowledge among their members.

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CIRCULAR COMMUNICATION FROM THE MEDICAL SOCIETY
OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, TO THE SEVERAL
COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETIES. FOR
THE YEAR 1808/9.

To the President of the Medical Society of the County of  _______________

Sir— The Medical Society of the State of New York, view with much satisfaction the organization of the several Medical Societies of the Counties, by virtue of the law of the 4th of April, 1806, for regulating the practice of Physic and Surgery; and they entertain no doubt but due exertions will be made by every incorporated Medical Society, to satisfy the just expectations of the Legislature and of the public, respecting these Institutions.

This law not only contemplates the establishment of such regulations, in the practice of Physic and Surgery, as may give respect to the Medical profession, and promote the public good; but also such as tends to improve our knowledge of the healing art, and encourage professional education. The Society do not doubt but that the powers with which the County Medical Societies are invested, will be exercised with moderation, and that nothing will be done to give offence to the public: they will recollect that Medicine has been justly considered one of the liberal professions, and that this character can be supported only when it is exercised on principles just and liberal.

The Medical Society of the State, at their first institution, deemed it expedient to invite their members to such scientific investigations, as would be interesting to the profession, and important to the public.

In a new county, mam of w lose resources are still unknown, superior beneficial effects must result from favouring scientific researches; and though the pecuniary means of the Society have been limited, yet they have offered premiums to encourage such inquiries as might be useful and interesting.

Few exertions have yet been made to examine and record the various productions, of vegetable nature throughout the State; nor has much been done to investigate the several objects connected with the mineral kingdom, with the formation of the earth, and the aspect of its surface.

These subjects the Medical Society of the State earnestly recommend to the attention of your Society; and they make no doubt but a spirit of investigation will be duly encouraged.

As the Medical Profession can only be respectable in a well informed community, and as the ignorant and illiterate are only dupes of empiricism, the County Medical Societies will see the usefulness of exerting their influence to promote education, and to unite their efforts with the Regents of the University for such purposes.

The Science of Medicine comprehends almost all the sciences and useful arts, which contribute, in some form or other, to preserve health, and to prevent and cure disease; it is, therefore, requisite that the County Societies should unite their efforts with the Agriculture and other Societies of the State, to aid in their labors the promotion of the useful arts.

It may also be useful for the Medical Societies to. collect and reward such historical facts as are connected with the settlement of their respective counties, and such other circumstances as will elucidate the history of the State.

Whatever relates to the causes, the nature and the cure of diseases, will obviously claim the attention of every Medical Society; and they will no doubt invite their respective members to the due exercise of their professional duties, as well as to those observations which may contribute to extend the usefulness and add to the importance of the profession.

The Medical Society of the State cannot conclude this circular communication without affording assurances of their perfect disposition to promote the respectability of the several County Societies, and to exert their efforts to extend the usefulness of the Medical Profession.

By order of the Medical Society of the State of New York. John Stearns, M.D., Sec’y.

Albany, Feb: 6, 1809.

(To be continued.)

(Continued.)

HISTORY OF THE MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK.

By JAMES J. WALSH, M.D., Ph D,

NEW YORK.

PART II.

CHAPTER III.

The next year a circular communication of the same kind was sent to the county medical societies, treating of many practical points. The suggestions of the committee of the State Society are nearly all directed to distinct betterments in the status of the profession. Especially attention is called to the necessity for careful medical education not only of students, but also of physicians; and for this purpose it is suggested that lecturers on medicine be chosen by the County Medical Societies to keep the members in touch with medical progress. The question of securing for physicians exemption from the law requiring citizens to serve in the militia is discussed, and it was not long before the universal interest aroused by this communication led to the enactment of the proper legislation to secure such exemption. There is a tone of moderation all through the circular, which shows how careful were the officers of the State Society not to hurt the susceptibilities of practitioners living in the more backward districts, nor the feelings of those in attendance at schools where medical opportunities were bound under the circumstances to be imperfect.

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CIRCULAR COMMUNICATION FROM THE MEDICAL SOCIETY
OF THE STATE, TO THE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETIES.
FOR THE YEAR 1810.

Medical Society of the State of New York,
Albany, February 10, 1810.

The various relations which the Medical Society of the State has with the County Medical Societies and the public, have been attended to during the present Session, with all the zeal which might be expected from the members of an Institution, to whom were confided by law the important interests of the Medical Profession.

The information which the Society has received, of the attention paid to medical education in some of the Seminaries of this State, has afforded the highest satisfaction, and confident expectations are cherished, that the County Medical Societies will yield their collateral aid to the constituted authorities of the State, to favor their laudable exertions to promote the diffusion of knowledge.

In the former communications of this Society, the Medical Societies of the Counties were invited to encourage such observations as might advance the improvement of the healing art, and it is confidently expected that the Medical Society of the State will be informed of the result of the exertions of the County Medical Societies in the fields of Science.

The Medical Society of the State deem it their duty again to invite the Medical Societies of the Counties to grant every encouragement to promote the diffusion of Medical knowledge.

Pursuant to a resolution of the Society, it is also recommended that each County Medical Society do appoint two or more Lecturers, whose duty it shall be to afford such instruction in any of the branches of the Healing Art as may meet the approbation of the Society by which such appointments may be made.

The representations which have been received respecting the operation of the present Militia Law on the members of the Medical Profession have been duly attended to, and the Society has adopted such measures as they deemed most expedient to obtain a revision of said Law. The Society consider it their duty to support the ancient privileges of the members of the Medical Profession, which in this State were not invaded during the sanguinary struggles of the country for national independence; nor can it be supposed that the Physicians and Surgeons of this State will, when necessary, be wanting in patriotic exertions, if it be recollected that Warren, Mercer and many others, first in council and not second in the field, were of their Profession.

The communications which have been laid before the Society, soliciting an application to the Legislature for an Act to prevent Inoculation for Small Pox, have been attentively considered. As this is a subject of importance to the public, and highly interesting to the feelings of many respectable citizens, the Society deem it proper for the respective County Medical Societies to have such communications from the Members of the Legislature, in their vicinity, as may enable them to judge of the expediency of a law for the aforsesaid purpose.

It is expedient to observe, that the expenses attending the Medical Society of the State, merit the consideration of the County Medical Societies. It will always evince a proper sense of dignity in the Medical Profession to support their own Institutions without applying for such purposes to the Legislature for pecuniary aid.

The Society view with much satisfaction the various Medical Institutions of the State, which they trust will be cherished with care and attention for the benefit of the community. Though all institutions are marked with imperfections, yet when their administration is in conformity with a spirit of moderation and justice, these are corrected; and it must be recollected that a restless disposition for innovation and change is not always connected with human improvement.

By order of the Medical Society of the State of New York.

John Stearns, M.D., Sec’ry.

CHAPTER IV.

NEW YORK MEDICAL SOCIETIES AS CORPORATIONS.

So much difficulty was encountered in securing the legal regulation of medical practice under the too general provisions of previous laws, that, in 1813, a determined effort was made to secure further legislation that would obviate the difficulties that had been encountered in the application of the preceding enactment. As soon as the County Medical Societies attempted to prosecute unlicensed practitioners the difficulty arose that there was doubt as to their legal status, that is, whether they had such corporate existence as to sue and be sued. This was true to some extent, also, with regard even to the State Medical Society. Accordingly it is evident that prominent legal talent was secured and a very formal bill, bristling with technical legal phraseology and having the many repetitions deemed necessary for binding legislation, was drawn up in order to determine definitely the legal status of both State and County Medical Societies. This became the basic law for the regulation of medicine in New York State, and it is the one to which all laws go back for more than half a century.

There was another and very practical object for the securing of the enactment. The original law creating State and County Medical Societies had given them legal status only on condition that the first meeting be held during the year subsequent to the passage of the law. A certain number of counties had not organized medical societies during that year, and now were not in a position to come into existence with assured legal status. Besides, New York State was growing rapidly, more rapidly than any other State in the Union, and the larger counties of the early years of the century were gradually being divided with the consequent creation of new counties. Many of these desired to have the right to organize county medical societies and this was secured by the Law of 1813. An added feature of this law was that if there were not enough members in any county to justify the organization of a county medical society then medical practitioners in that county had a right to join the County Medical Society in an adjoining county.

Another special feature of this act, and one which was to have a far-reaching effect upon the organization of the State Medical Society in subsequent years, was one of its last provisions. It provided for the election of not more than two permanent members at each annual meeting, these permanent members to be “eminent and respectable physicians and surgeons residing in any part of the State.” Because of the fact that this act was for so long the basic legal faculty of the State and County Medical Societies for the regulation of the practice of medicine and, indeed, the most important legal enactment of the first half century of the Society’s existence, it has seemed advisable to give it in its entirety especially as all subsequent legislation down almost to our own time was enacted with a definite view of the effect that it would have in broadening or narrowing the provisions of this carefully drawn Enactment of 1813.

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AN ACT TO INCORPORATE MEDICAL SOCIETIES, FOR THE PURPOSE OF REGULATING THE PRACTICE OF PHYSIC AND SURGERY IN THIS STATE. PASSED APRIL 10, 1813.[6]

Whereas, well regulated medical societies have been formed to contribute to the diffusion of true science, and particularly the knowledge of the healing art; Therefore,

1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of NewYork, represented in Senate and Assembly, That it shall and may be lawful for the physicians and surgeons in the several counties of this state now authorized bylaw to practice in their several professions, except in those counties wherein medical societies have already been incorporated, to meet together on the first Tuesday of July next, at the place where the last term of the court of common pleas next previous to such meeting was held in their respective counties: and the several physicians and surgeons so convened as aforesaid, or any part of them, not less than five in number, shall proceed to the choice of a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, who shall hold their offices for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their places; and whenever the said societies shall be so organized as aforesaid, they are hereby declared to be bodies corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the names of the medical society of the county where such societies shall respectively be formed, and by that name shall be in law capable of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended in all courts and places, and in all matters and causes whatsoever ; and shall and may have a common seal and may alter and renew the same at their pleasure; Provided always, That if the said physicians and surgeons shall not meet and organize themselves at such time and place as aforesaid, it shall be lawful for them to meet at such other time as a majority of them shall think proper; and their proceedings shall be as valid as if such meeting had been at the time before specified.

2. And be it further enacted. That the medical societies of the counties already incorporate, shall continue to be bodies corporate and politic, in fact and in name, by the names of the medical society of the county where such societies have respectively been formed, and by that name shall be in law capable of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended in all courts and places and in all matters and causes whatsoever, and shall and may have a common seal, and may alter and renew the same at their pleasure, and that the president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, of such incorporated societies, shall hold their offices for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their places.

[6] New York Statutes at Large. Albany, N. Y., 1869. Chap 94.

3. And be it further enacted, That the medical society already incorporated, by the style and name of the Medical Society of the state of New York, shall continue to be a body politic and corporate, in fact and in name, and by that name shall be in law capable of suing and being sued, pleading and being impleaded, answering and being answered unto, defending and being defended, in all courts and places, and in all matters and causes whatsoever, and shall and may have and use a common seal, and may change and alter the same at their pleasure; and that the said society shall be composed of one member from each of the county societies in the state, elected by ballot at their annual meeting, who shall meet together at the time and place appointed by the said society for that purpose, and being met, not less than fifteen in number, may annually elect by ballot, a president, vice-president, secretary and treasurer, who shall hold their offices for one year, and until others shall be chosen in their places.*

4. And be it further enacted, That the Medical Society of the State of New York, and also the medical societies of the respective counties, shall and may agree upon and determine the times and places of meeting; and the time so agreed upon shall forever thereafter be the anniversary day of holding their respective meetings; and it is hereby made the duty of the secretary of each of the county medical societies to lodge in the office of the clerk of the respective counties, if not already done, a copy of all the proceedings had at their first meeting; and it shall also be the duty of the secretary of the medical society of the State of New York, in like manner, to lodge in the office of the secretary of this state, a copy of their proceedings had at their first general meeting; and the said clerks and secretary are hereby required to file the same in their respective offices, for which they shall each receive the sum of twelve and a half cents.

5- And be it further enacted that the members now composing the medical society of the State of New York from each of the four great districts, shall remain divided into four classes from each of said districts shall go out of office annually.

6. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the secretary of the medical society of the State of New York, whenever the seats of any of the members shall become vacant, to give information of the same to the respective county societies, to the end that such county societies may supply such vacancy at their next meeting.

7. And be it further enacted, That in case there shall be an addition to the number of persons composing the medical society of the state, that in that case it shall be in the power of the said society at any of their anuual meetings, and as often as they shall judge necessary, to alter and vary the classes in such manner as that one-fourth of the members from each of the four great districts as near as may be, shall annually go out of office.

8. And be it further enacted, That if the seat of any member of the medical society of the State of New York shall be vacated, either by death, resignation or removal from the county, it shall be the duty of the medical society of such county to fill such vacancy, at their next meeting after such vacancy shall happen.

9. And be it further enacted. That the medical societies established as aforesaid, are hereby respectively empowered to examine all students who shall and may present themselves for that purpose, and to give diplomas under the hand of the president and seal of such society before whom such student shall be examined, which diploma shall be sufficient to enable the person so obtaining the same to practice physic or surgery, or both, as shall be set forth in the said diploma, in any part of this state.

10. And be it further enacted, That if any student who shall have presented himself for examination before any of the medical societies of the several counties of this state shall think himself aggrieved by the decision of such society, it shall be lawful tor such student to present himself for examination to the medical society of the State of New York; and if in the opinion of such society the student so applying is qualified for the practice of physic or surgery, or both, as the case may be, the president of such society shall, under his hand and seal of such society, give to the said applicant a diploma, agreeable to such decision.

11. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the several medical societies so established as aforesaid, at their annual meetings, to appoint not less than three nor more than five censors, to continue in office one year and until others are chosen, whose duty it shall be carefully and impartially to examine all students who shall present themselves for that purpose, and report their opinion in writing to the president of the said society.

(Section 12 repealed by Laws of 1828, Chapter 21.)

13. And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the medical societies of the respective counties of this State, and also the medical society of the State of New York, to purchase and hold any estate, real and personal, for the use of said respective societies: Provided, Such estate, as respectively authorized to hold, shall not exceed the sum of one thousand dollars; and that the estate, as well real as personal, which the medical society of the State of New York is hereby authorized to hold, shall not exceed five thousand dollars.

14. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the respective societies to make such by-laws and regulations relative to the affairs, concerns and property of said societies, relative to the admission and expulsion of members, relative to such donations and contributions as they or a majority of the members at their annual meeting shall think fit and proper: Provided, that such by-laws, rules and regulations, made by the society of the State of New York, be not contrary to nor inconsistent with the constitution and laws of this State, or of the United States; and that the by-laws, rules and regulations of the respective county societies shall not be repugnant to the by-laws, rules and regulations of the medical society of the State of New York, nor contrary to, nor inconsistent with, the constitution and laws of this State or of the United States.

15. And be it further enacted, That the treasurer of each society established as aforesaid shall receive and be accountable for all monies that shall come into his hands by virtue of any of the by-laws of such societies, and also for all monies that shall come into the hands of the president thereof, for the admission of members, or licensing students; which monies the said president is hereby required to pay over to the said treasurer, who shall account therefor to the society at their annual meetings, and no monies shall be drawn from the treasurer unless such sums and for such purposes as shall be agreed upon by a majority of the society at their annual meeting, and by a warrant for that purpose, signed by the president.

16. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the secretary of each of the said medical societies, to provide a book, in which he shall make an entry of all the resolutions and proceedings which may be had from time to time, and also the name of each and every member of said society, and the time of his admission, and also the annual reports relative to the state of the treasury, and all such other things as a majority of the society shall think proper; to which book any member of the society may at any time have recourse; and the same, together with all books, papers and records, which may be in the hands of the secretary of the society, shall be delivered to his successor in office.

17. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for each of the said medical societies to cause to be raised and collected from each of the members of such society, a sum not exceeding three dollars in any one year, for the purpose of procuring a medical library and apparatus, and for the encouragement of useful discoveries in chemistry, botany and such other improvements as the majority of the society shall think, proper.

18. And be it further enacted, That any student who may receive a diploma from the medical society of this state, shall pay to the president thereof on receiving the same, ten dollars; and for each diploma that a student may receive from the medical society 4i any county, he shall pay to the president thereof on receiving the same, five dollars; Provided, that the students who have been examined previous to the twenty-sixth day of May, one thousand eight hundred and twelve, and were entitled to receive diplomas, but who have not received the same, shall not pay therefor more than two dollars.

19. And be it further -enacted, That the medical society of this State may elect by ballot at their annual meeting, eminent and respectable physicians and surgeons, residing in any part of the state, which persons so elected shall be permanent members of the society, and entitled to all the privileges of the same; Provided, that not more than two such members shall be elected in any one year and that they shall receive no compensation for their attendance from the funds of the society. (Sections 20, 21, 22, repealed by Laws of 1823, Ch. 21.)

23. And be it further enacted, That it shall be in the power of the Legislature to alter, modify or repeal this act whenever they shall deem it necessary or expedient.

24. And be it further enacted, That if there shall not be a sufficient number of physicians and surgeons in any of the counties of this state to form themselves into a medical society agreeably to this act, it shall be lawful for such physicians and surgeons to associate with the physicians and surgeons of an adjoining county for the purposes hereby contemplated.

25. And be it further enacted, That this act shall be and hereby is declared to be a public act.

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CHAPTER V. EARLY PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY.

The proceedings of the early meetings of the Society as published were very meagre. Such as they are, however, they are of surpassing interest, because they serve to make clear just what were considered to be the powers and obligations of the Society. They exhibit in a very striking way the effort of the Society to uplift the profession by means of union, and the encouragement of local organizations, as well as by the offering of prizes, the invitation for the presentation of essays on climatic influences, and other local features, supposed at that time to be connected with the causation of local diseases. Only a few copies of the early transactions were printed and most of them have disappeared. Reprints were made, however, first in 1831, and subsequently on two other occasions, and are to be found in the transactions of later years.

In spite of this, however, it has been deemed advisable in this centenary volume to give the original proceedings of the first five meetings of the Society, in order to show the general character of the business transacted and the methods of the Society. After this time a modification of the original law that formed the foundation of the Society was secured from the Legislature, conferring some new powers and also making some new limitations with regard to the practice of medicine.

These proceedings of the early meetings are printed just as they are found in the original transactions, in Dr. Samuel Purple’s set at the

New York Academy of Medicine, with the exception of certain lists of names that it seemed unnecessary to repeat since those who are specially interested in them can find them without difficulty in any of the many reprints of the proceedings.

The Transactions of the Society at its first meeting in Albany, 3rd February, 1807.

“The statute enacted on the 4th of April, 1806, by the honorable the legislature of this state, to incorporate medical societies, for the purpose of regulating the practice of physic and surgery may be considered as among the first efforts made in this country to give the medical profession an honorable station in the community.

“By investing the privileges of medical men, in corporate communities formed of the members of that profession, the public may be freed from many impositions, and the usefulness and importance of the healing art will be extended. The history of all the learned professions imperiously proves this fact, that no one of those professions has ever become respectable or extensively useful to mankind, that was not under the restraint of the great body of its own members. Mankind have in all ages and in all communities been too often deceived by men who pretended to professional merit and who by mean practices on the ignorances, follies and caprices of individuals, have gained an artificial importance in society.

“This is more especially the case in the medical profession. Hence the importance of the law, placing the regulation thereof under incorporated medical societies. The advantages to the community in placing the regulation of the medical profession under the direction of its own members, is already sufficiently manifested, by the promotion of medical education and encouragements given to physical enquiries and observation, and the diminished influence of pretenders to the healing art, throughout the State.”

The Medical Society of the state was duly organized on the first Tuesday in February, 1807, when the following members were chosen officers.

William McClelland, President; Alexander Sheldon. Vice-President; Moses Willard, Treasurer; John Stearns, Secretary. John M. Mann, Columbia; William Wheeler, Dutchess; Lyman Cook. Westchester; Moses Willard, Rensselaer; Caleb Samson, Oneida; Censors. David R. Arnell, Orange; John Ely, Greene; Westell Willoughby, Jun., Herkimer; Alexander Sheldon. Montgomery; John M. Mann, Columbia; Committee of Correspondence.

The Society enacted certain bye-laws, and agreed to apply to the Legislature to divide the members of the society into classes and to make some provision for the support of the society. They examined and licensed some candidates for the practice of physic and surgery.

At this early period of the establishing of the society, it was considered proper to extend its usefulness in promoting medical inquiries in the different counties in the state. Accordingly each member of the society was directed to present a geological and topographical description of the county in which he might practice and also a history of such diseases as might prevail in his particular place of residence; and that each member should give an account of any remarkable case that might occur in his practice, together with its treatment, at the anniversary meetings of the society.

The society then adjourned to meet on the first Tuesday in February, 1808.

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SECOND MEETING, ALBANY, ON THE FIRST TUESDAY OF FEBRUARY, 1808.

I. Officers and members present.—Drs. Wm. McClelland, from the County of Albany. President. Alexander Sheldon, of Montgomery. Vice-President. John Stearns, Saratoga. Secretary. Lvman Cook, Westchester; Jesse Shephard, Schoharie; David R. Arnell, Orange; James September, 1906

G. Graham, Ulster; John Ely, Greene; Westell Willoughby, Jun., Herkimer; Reuben Hart, Ontario; John

H. Frisbee, Onondaga; Nicholas Romayne, New York; Andrew Proudfit, Rensselaer; Horatio Powell, Clinton; Tracy Robinson, Chenango; Jonathan Bush, Lewis; Alexander Morse, Essex.

The society then proceeded to arrange its members into four classes, according to the four great senatorial districts of the state, pursuant to law, whereupon it appeared that in the Southern district, the county of New York was drawn into the third class, Nicholas Romayne, member; Westchester, 2d class, Lyman Cook, member.

Middle District, Greene, 4th, John Ely, member. Columbia, 2d, John M. Mann, member. Dutchess, 4th, Wiliam Wheeler. Ulster, 2d, James G. Graham. Delaware, 3d, Thomas B. Whitmarsh. Orange, 3d, David R. Arnell.

Western District. Oneida, 1st, Caleb Samson. Madison, 2d, James Morse. Herkimer, 2d, Westell Willoughby. Orange, 3d, John H. Frisbee. Cayuga, ist, Barnabas Smith. Jefferson, 4th, Hugh Henderson. Chenango, 2d, Tracy Robinson. Ontario, 4th, Reuben Hart. Lewis, 4th, Jonathan Bush. Otsego, 1st, Gurdon Huntington.

Eastern District. Essex, 4th, Alexander Morse. Schoharie, 4th, Jesse Shepherd. Saratoga, 1st, John Stearns. Clinton, 2d, Horation Powell. Albany, ist, William McClelland. Montgomery, 3d, Alexander Sheldon. Washington, 2d . Rensselaer, 3d, Andrew Proudfit.

2. Election of Officers for 1809. The Society proceeded to the anniversary election agreeably to law, when it appeared that, Dr. Nicholas Romayne was elected President. Dr. Alexander Sheldon, Vice-President. Dr. John Stearns, Secretary. Dr. James G. Graham, Treasurer. Dr. Lyman Cook, Dr. John M. Mann, Dr. William Wheeler, Dr. David R. Arnell, Dr. Westell Willioughby, Censors. Dr. John Ely, Dr. Alexander Sheldon, Dr. Jesse Shepherd, Dr. Reuben Hart, Dr. Barnabas Smith, Committee of Correspondence.

3. Prize Questions.—The society taking into consideration the importance of promoting philosophical and medical enquiries, which might be interesting to the public, deemed it expedient for that purpose to adopt prize questions, when the following were agreed to, and directed to be published.

1st. A medal, value fifty dollars, for the best dissertation on the topography, geology and mineralogy of any county in the state, together with an account of the prevalent diseases in such country.

2nd. A medal, value twenty-five dollars, for the second best dissertation on the same subject.

3d. A medal, value, twenty-five dollars, for the best dissertation on the causes and best method of preventing or curing the typhus minor, or low nervous fever, which prevails in the different counties of this state.

Drs. Sheldon, Graham and Wheeler, who were appointed a committee to determine the most eligible mode of adjudging the preceding prize questions, reported— That it be the duty of the President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer and Censors, to select from the communications, six of the best dissertations on each question, which shall be presented to the society for final adjudication.

Thereupon the said report was approved.

4th. Geological Descriptions, &c.—The following members in pursuance of the by-laws, reported a topographical and geological description of their respective counties, together with the diseases prevalent in the same. viz. Dr. Alexander Sheldon, Montgomery; Dr. David R. Arnell, Orange; Dr. Willard Wheeler, Dutchess ; Dr. John Stearns, Saratoga; Dr. Hugh Henderson, Jefferson; Dr. Horatio Powell, Clinton; and Dr. Lyman Cook of Westchester. Dr. Westell Willoughby communicated a case of hydrophobia, and Dr. Moses Willard a case of ascites successfully treated.

5th. Amendment to Bye-Laws.—The following ordinance was reported to the society by Dr. Amell, Dr. Willoughby and Dr. Hart, in an amendment to the existing bye-laws:

Be it ordained by the Medical Society of the State of New York, that seven members of the society be competent to form a quorum, and to transact the business of the society until the first Tuesday in February next.

Whereupon the said ordinance was adopted.

6th. College of Physicians, New York.—The society having considered that the population of the county of New York was more than the average population of two other counties in the state; and that it might be interesting to the furthering the views of his society in promoting medical education, that the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the City of New York should be represented in this society, and have the privileges of a county medical society. Whereupon it was ordained, that the society consent to receive a representative from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in the City of New York. And that the said College should have all the other rights and privileges of a county medical society, if the honorable the Legislature deem the same expedient.

7th. Honorary Members and Presidents of County Societies.—The following gentlemen were elected honorary members of the society. Benjamin Rush, M.D., Philadelphia. Nathan Smith, M.D., Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Dr. John Pomeroy, Burlington, Vermont. Dr. John Miller, Onondaga, New York. Dr. Moses Willard, Albany, New York.

And it was further ordained that all members of the first class who may not be re-elected by their respective county societies, shall be honorary members of this society.

And it was further ordained that all the Presidents of the different county societies, and also those members of the Legislature who were members of any county socity in the state, shall be ex-ofhcio honorary members.

THIRD MEETING, ALBANY, FEBRUARY, 1809.

1. Officers and Members present. — Drs. Nicholas Romayne, New York, President; Alexander Sheldon, Montgomery, Vice-President; John Stearns, Saratoga, Secretary; William Wheeler, Dutchess; Lyman Cook, Westchester; John M. Mann, Columbia; David R. Arnell, Orange; John Ely, Greene; Andrew Proudfit, Rensselaer; Westell Willoughby, Herkimer; Jesse Shepherd, Jefferson, vice Hugh Henderson, deceased; Walter Colter, Onondaga, vice John H. Frisbee, resigned; Abraham Allen, Washington, vice Philip Smith, deceased; Amos G. Hull, Oneida, vice Caleb Samson, whose term had expired; Alexander Morse, Essex.

2. Two prizes, Application to the Legislature, and Smallpox. Two prize dissertations on the typhus mitior, and one on the topography, geology, mineralogy and natural history of New York, were presented to the society and committed to Drs. Wheeler, Proudfit and Stearns.

Drs. Sheldon, Arnell, Mann and Shepherd were appointed a committee to consider and prepare an application to the Legislature for aid to promote the science and practice of medicine in this state.

Drs. Romayne, Mann and Colter, were appointed a committee to petition the Legislature for a law to phohibit the inoculation of small-pox in this state.

3. Death of Dr. Henderson.—The society being informed of the death of Dr. Hugh Henderson, of Jefferson County,

Resolved, to wear the customary mourning for a month as testimony of respect to his memory.

Pursuant to the bye-laws, and by permission obtained of the Legislature, the president delivered his Anniversary Address in the Assembly Chamber.

4. Election of Officers for 1810.—The society proceeded to elect their officers for the year ensuing, when Nicholas Romayne, M.D., was chosen President; Alexander Sheldon, Vice-President; Andrew Proudfit, Treasurer; John Stearns, Secretary; Lyman Cook, John M. Mann, Wm. Wheeler, David R. Arnell, Westell Willoughby, Censors; Nicholas Romayne, John Ely, Amos G. Hull, Jesse Shepherd, Abraham Allen, Reuben Hart, Henry H. Sherwood, Committee of Correspondence.

Drs. Shepherd, Proudfit and Arnell were appointed a committee to present the thanks of the society to the President for his Anniversary Address, and to request a copy for publication.

5. Honorary Members.—Dr. Abraham Allen nominated the Rev. Alexander Proudfit, A.M., of Salem, in the county of Washington ; and the President nominated John Warren, M.D., Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the University of Cambridge, to become honorary members of the society.

6. Dr. Morse.—Dr. Morse read a dissertation on the topography, mineralogy and diseases of the County of Essex.

7. Anniversary address by the President, Dr. Romayne.—It being the first we find published, and so well adapted to the occasion, that we shall insert it entire.

It will be found among notable addresses.

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FOURTH MEETING, ALBANY, FEBRUARY, 1810.

1. Officers and Members present.—Dr. Nicholas Romayne, President, New York; Dr. Alexander Sheldon, Vice-President, Montgomery; Dr. Andrew Proudfit, Treasurer, Rensselaer; Dr. John Stearns, Secretary, Saratoga; Dr. Westell Willoughby, Censor, Herkimer; Dr. Alexander Morse, Essex; Dr. John Ely, Greene.

The following members presented their credentials which were approved, and they accordingly took their seats.

Dr. William Wilson, Columbia; Dr. Henry White, Westchester; Dr. Leer Ward, Genesee; Dr. Asa B. Sizer, Madison; Dr. Benjamin Bevier, Ulster; Dr. Henry I. Hoornbeck, Orange; Dr. Oliver C. Comstock, Seneca; Dr. John Sofford, Lewis; Dr. Oliver Davidson, Clinton; Dr. William McClelland, Albany; Dr. Abraham Allen, Washington.

2. Dr. Hosack’s Botanical Garden and Report thereon. —A memorial from the Medical Society of the County of New York, to the Legislature, recommended by the corporation of the City of New York, and the Governors of the New York Hospital, for the purchase of Dr. Hosack’s Botanic Garden, was presented to the Society and referred to Drs. Sheldon, Ely and Ward.

Dr. Sheldon from the committee to whom was referred the memorials for the purchase of Dr. Hosack’s Botanic Garden, reported the following resolution:— That the Medical Society of the State of New York do unite with the Medical Society of the county of New York, the corporation of the City of New York, and the Governors of the New York Hospital, in soliciting the honorable the Legislature to purchase the botanic establishment of Dr. Hosack, if consistent with the funds of the state, or otherwise, to grant a lottery for that purpose. And that the establishment, if purchased, be so managed under the direction of the Legislature, as may be most convenient to the diffusion of medical science.

Whereupon it was resolved, that the said resolution be engrossed on the aforesaid memorial, and signed by the President and Secretary.[7]

3. Honorary Members.—John Warren, Professor of Anatomy and Surgery in the University of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the Rev. Alexander Proudfit, A.M., of Salem, Washington County, having been duly proposed, were unanimously elected honorary members of this society.

4. Election of Officers for 1811.—The Society proceeded to the annual election of officers, when Dr. Nicholas Romayne was chosen President; Dr. Alexander Sheldon, Vice-President; Dr. Andrew Proudfit, Treasurer; Dr. John Stearns, Secretary; Drs. Westell Willoughby, jun., William M’Clelland, William Wilson, Abraham

[7]In the reprint of the proceedings in the United States Medical and Surgical Journal there occurs the following note:

In pursuance of preceding recommendations, Dr. Hosack’s Botanic Garden was purchased by the Legislature at seventy three thousand dollars—that being the amount of which it was estimated by three respectable commissioners of the city of New York. It was subsequently ceded to Columbia College on condition that a college edifice should be erected on the ground within ten years. This condition was afterwards revoked.

The property at this time is said to be worth more than one hundred thousand dollars, and we understand that it is the intention of the Trustees of Columbia College to erect on the spot a splendid Building.

Sheldon, Andrew Proudfit, John Stearns, Henry H. Sherwood, Oliver C. Comstock, John Sofford, and Henry White, Committee of Correspondence.

5. Militia Law.-—Dr. Sheldon, from the committee to whom were referred the communications from the county medical societies of New York, Saratoga, and Montgomery, reported the following resolution; That the section of Militia Law which compels physicians and surgeons to do military duty, is contrary to their ancient rights and privileges, and that a committee be appointed to wait upon Dr. Mitchell, and other members of the Legislature, to represent the same and to request their friendly aid to effect the repeal of the said section. Whereupon Drs. Stearns, Comstock and Romayne were appointed a committee for that purpose.

6. Communications read.—Dr. Stearns read a communication on a case of catalepsy, successfully treated.

Dr. Hoornbeck read a communication on the topography, and medical history of the county of Orange.

The Secretary read a communication on the like subjects, respecting the county of Ontario, from Dr. Hart.

7. County Medical Schools.—The Committee to whom was referred the subject of the County Medical Schools reported that, whereas, the Medical Society of the State feel solicitous to promote the respect, ability and usefulness of the several county medical societies, by inviting them to promote general diffusion of medical knowledge, therefore, it was

Resolved, That each County Medical Society do appoint two or more discreet lecturers, whose duty it phall be to give such instruction to medical students as the encouragement they may receive will justify, and that they be requested to communicate to the Committee of Correspondence of this Society, special accounts of their success, for the information of this and the county societies.

8. Honorary Members.—Dr. Samuel Mitchill. Professor of Natural History and Botany, in the University of this State: and Dr. Hosack, Professor of Materia Medica and Botany, in Columbia College, were nominated honorary members of this Society.

9. Admitted to practice.—Drs. Quackenbos and Burrill, of the County of New York, and Dr. Manney of the county of Dutchess, having produced satisfactory testimony of their medical studies, and proficiency in medical knowledge, were admitted to the privileges of physicians and surgeons in this state.

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FIFTH MEETING, ALBANY, FEBRUARY, 1811.

1. Officers and Members present: Dr. John Stearns, Secretary; Drs. William Wilson, William McClelland, Abraham Allen, and Westell Willoughby, Censors; Dr. Benjamin R. Bevier. Ulster; Dr. Henry H. Sherwood, Jefferson; Dr. Asa B. Sizer, Madison; Dr. Moses Willard. Honorary Member.

The following new members presented their credentials, which were approved and they accordingly took their seats:

Dr. John R. B. Rodgers. New York; Dr. Eli Burritt, Rensselaer; Dr. Anthonv Davis, Orange; Dr. Adabel E. Paine, Deleware: Dr. William Patrick, Jun., Saratoga; Dr. James L. VanKleek, Dutchess; Dr. Jeremiah D. Fowler. Westchester.

The President of the society being absent, Dr. William M’Clelland was called to the Chair.

2. Honorary Members.—Drs. Samuel L. Mitchill and David Hosack, having been duly proposed, were elected honorary members of the society.

3. Prize Medal.—The prize medal for “the best dissertation on the topography, geology, mineralogy and medical history of any county in the State of New York.” was adjudged to Dr. Stearns of Saratoga.

4. Respect to the memory of Dr. Wheeler.—On motion it was Resolved, that the members of this society wear crepe around the left arm for thirty days, as a testimony of respect for their deceased brother, Dr. William Wheeler of Dutchess.

5. Election of Officers for 1812.—The Society proceeded to the annual election of officers, when the following gentlemen were chosen: Dr. William Wilson, President; Dr. Westell Willoughby, Vice-President; Dr. Asa B. Sizer, Treasurer; Dr. Benjamin R. Bevier, Secretary; Drs. John R. B. Rodgers, New York; William M’Clelland, Albany; William Patrick, jun., Saratoga ; Eli Burritt, Rensselaer; and Jesse Shepherd, Schoharie. Censors.

Drs. William Wilson, Columbia; Asa B. Sizer, Madison; John R. B. Rodgers, New York; Eli Burritt, Rensselaer; John Ely, Greene; Henry H. Sherwood, Jefferson; and Jesse Shepherd, Schoharie, Committee of Correspondence.

6. Petition to the Legislature.—Dr. Rodgers from the Committee appointed to inquire into the expediency of petitioning the Legislature for a fund and for other purposes, reported a draft of a memorial praying for aid and sundry amendments to the law, which was approved of and ordered to be left to the care of Dr. John Stearns; and his exertions and influence requested in and with the Legislature, for the passage of a law conforming thereto.

7. Honorary Members, and thanks to Dr. Stearns. Drs. Nicholas Romayne and John Stearns were proposed honorary members of the society.

On motion, it was Resolved, That the thanks of the society be presented to Dr. John Stearns for his faithful services as Secretary.

8. Dr. Willard Dissertation.—Dr. Moses Willard read and presented to the society a dissertation on typhus minor.

On motion it was resolved, That the thanks of the society be presented to Dr. Willard for his dissertation.

{To be continued)

.

PART II.
CHAPTER VI.
BY-LAWS.

The original By-laws of the Medical Society of the State of New York give the best possible idea of what the original intention of the founders of the Society was with regard to the influence it should wield on the professional life and practical medicine of the time. All the details of Society legislation with regard to the licensing of physicians are of historic interest, and the relationship to the county societies shows just what these different bodies considered their rights and privileges. Certain features of the by-laws of the State Society deserve special mention because they emphasized the different policy from that of other State Medical Societies of the time, and especially emphasized the ethical relationships which should exist between physicians and the high standard and professional character which the Society hoped to maintain. They have been changed, sometimes even amended, since the original draft, but now that a century has passed their historic interest is greater than ever.

Some portions of the original organic law read rather curiously in these modern times, and are expressive of a spirit rather different to that of the modern medical society. For instance, it is now the custom in many parts of this country for medical societies to determine what shall be ordinary fees for medical and surgical work under various circumstances, though, according to the by-laws of the New York Society, any member guilty of promoting or encouraging in any way such action shall on conviction be expelled from the Society and be forever thereafter debarred from being again received as a member of it. In general the Society retained the privilege of revoking the license to practice and definitely threatened with expulsion any member who October, 1906 [sic], should be guilty of gross immorality or who shall have improper pretensions to any specific or nostrum. This conjunction of offences, for which so condign a punishment was meted out, froms an interesting reflection on the ethical temper of the members of the Medical Society at the beginning, and is an index of the guiding spirit of all their legislation.

.

ORIGINAL BY-LAWS.

Whereas, the Medical Society of the State of New York has been duly incorporated, pursuant to the Statute of the 4th of April, 1806. And whereas among other grants and privileges, the said Medical Society are invested with powers to make such by-laws and regulations as they or a majority of the members ‘at their annual meeting shall deem fit and proper. And whereas by the said statute, the by-laws and regulations of the respective county Medical Societies are directed not to be repugnant to the by-laws and regulations of the Medical Society of the State. Therefore,

Be it ordained by the Medical Society of the State of New York, That the anniversary meeting of this Society shall be held on the first Tuesday in February, in every year; and all other meetings may be held at such time and lace as may be determined by a majority of the society convened at any legal meeting, and that seven members shall constitute a board, to transact the business of the Society, except that of altering, amending or abrogating these by-laws, when it shall be necessary for eleven members to be present to form a board for such purposes.

And be it further ordained, by the authority aforesaid, That the order of transacting business at the meetings of the Society shall be in manner and form as follows, viz.:

First. The President or presiding officer of the said Society may declare the same to be constituted whenever a quorum is formed, according to the preceding ordinance.

Second. The minutes of the last meeting shall be read by the Secretary, and if no member object to the same, the minutes shall be considered approved.

Third. The President or presiding officer, or any member, may introduce any proposition relative to the duties or concerns of the said Society, and the same shall be disposed of according to the pleasure of a majority of the members present at any such meeting.

Fourth. A majority of the members of the Society present at any meeting may direct an adjournment whenever it shall be deemed proper.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid. That every member shall observe order and decorum at all the meetings of the Society, and shall pay proper respect to their fellow members, and to the President and other officers. And all the members shall take their places whenever the President or presiding officer shall declare the Society constituted, and whenever a member’ shall speak, he shall stand up and address the chair, and whenever any two or more members offer to speak at the same time, the President or presiding officer shall determine the priority in speaking.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the President of the said Society shall preside at the meetings, and shall preserve order and decorum in the same; he shall perform the duties of his office as now are, or hereafter may be directed, by the laws of the State, or the ordinances, by-laws and regulations of the Society; he shall nominate and appoint all committees to transact the business of the said Society, unless otherwise directed by a special resolution of a majority of the members present; he shall take the sense of the Society on any motion made and seconded; he shall have a casting vote in all transactions where the votes of .the members are equally divided, and shall deliver the decisions of the Society.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, That the President of the said Society shall, at the annual meeting, and at the end of each year after his election to office, deliver to the Society a dissertation on some appropriate subject; and in case of default in delivering the same, he shall forfeit and pay to the Society the sum of twenty-five dollars; Provided always. That if such President shall duly cause to be presented to the Society a copy of his anniversary dissertation, he may, if the Society deem proper, be excused from delivering the same; but he cannot be exonerated from the fine of twenty-five dollars for not composing and presenting such dissertation, and a copy of such dissertation, so presented, shall be read to the Society by the Vice-President or President pro tempore.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the treasurer shall keep and be accountable for all moneys placed in his belonging to the said Society, and shall thereout, pay such warrants as may be drawn by the president or vice-president for the use of the Society; and shall present at each anniversary meeting of this Society, a minute report of the state of the treasury ; and the treasurer shall moreover perform all the duties prescribed by law, and the ordinances, by-laws and resolutions of this Society.

And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that a majority of the Censors shall have power to perform the duties of the whole number; and they are hereby authorized to examine students separately, if they deem the same expedient; and the said Censors shall perform all such duties as may be directed by law, and the ordinances, by-laws, and resolutions of the Society.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that all students of medicine who shall have presented, to a majority of the Censors of the said Society, satisfactory testimony that they have studied physic and surgery, as is directed by the statute for incorporating this Society, and who shall upon due examination by the Censors be found qualified to practice physic or surgery or both; and have their said qualifications certified in such manner as is directed by law, shall, before they receive the requisite diploma from the president, sign a declaration in the words following, viz.:

“I, A. B., do solemnly declare, That I will honestly, virtuously and chastely conduct myself in the practice of physic and surgery, with the privilege of exercising such profession I am now to be invested; and that I will with fidelity and honor, do everything in my power for the benefit of the sick committed to my charge.”

Which said declaration, so signed, by every candidate to practice physic and surgery, shall be filed by the secretary in the archives of the Society.

And be it further directed, that the president and secretary be and they are hereby authorized, to grant to every such candidate qualified to practice physic and surgery, agreeable to law, in the name and under the seal of this said Society, a diploma, in the words following, to wit:

Omnibus ad quos haec literae pervenerint.
S

Nos, Societatis Medicae Republicae Novi Eboraci, Prxses, Casterique Socii, hoc scripto testatum volumus (inserting the name and county of the candidate) Artem medicam et chirurgicam sub viris in medicini peritis, tempore praestituto, studio incubuisse, et in hiis studiis progressus, loculento testimonio nobis probasse et commendasse; Quocirca ex authoritate nobis commissa medicinae et artis chirurgise, in hac civitate, exercendae et potestatum cum omnibus priviligiis ac has artcs pertinentibus concedimus. In quorum testimonium hoce diploma, sigillo nostro munitum, donavimus. Datum (the place, day and year to be inserted).

And be it further ordained, that if any candidate should request a diploma in English, it shall be in the following form, viz.:

“To all to whom these presents shall come, or may in any wise concern—The President and Members of the Medical Society of the State of New York send greeting: Whereas (name and county of the candidate) hath exhibited unto us satisfactory testimony that he hath studied physic and surgery, for the term and in the manner directed by law; and hath also, upon examination by our Censors, given sufficient proofs of his proficiency in the healing art, and of his moral character. Wherefore, by virtue of the powers vested in us by the law, we do grant unto the said (name of the candidate) the privilege of practicing physic and surgery in this state, together with all the rights and immunities which usually appertain to Physicians and Surgeons. In witness whereof we have granted this diploma. Sealed with our seal, and testified by our President and Secretary, at (place, day and year).

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that all students who may hereafter be licensed by any County Medical Society in this State, shall be required to sign a declaration corresponding to that set forth in the preceding ordinance; and it shall be the duty of each president of the medical society of every county to exact and demand the same, and to file such declaration in the archives of the Society granting such diploma.

And it is also further ordained, that the diploma to be hereafter granted, to every person to practice physic and surgery, by any county medical society in this State shall correspond with the diploma in the preceding ordinance, adapting the same to the name of every such county.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that it shall be the duty of every member of this said Society, to present at every anniversary meeting a copy of the by-laws of the said county society, for which he is delegate, and to furnish this Society with an abridged historical account of the proceedings of every such county society.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that each and every member shall present to this Society, all proper information respecting the geology and topography of the county in which he resides, together with an historical account of the diseases which prevail at any season of the year; and shall communicate all such information in his power which may contribute to the public good or advance the knowledge of the healing art.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the said Society shall appoint a committee of not less than five nor more than seven members, as a committee of correspondence, whose duty it shall be, in their joint or individual capacity, to correspond with the literary societies, and men eminent for knowledge, and they shall present such communications as they may deem proper to the Society.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that the president or vice-president of said Society, shall, together with the secretary, and three Censors, from a Comita Minora to carry into execution, the laws and ordinances of the Society during its adjournment.

And whereas it is inconsistent with the dignity of the medical profession, for physicians and surgeons, in their corporate capacities to arrange and fix professional charges:

Be it further ordained, that any member of this Society who shall hereafter be guilty of promoting, favoring or encouraging the members of any medical society in their corporate capacity to form, support and fix medical charges, and who shall be convicted thereof before the said medical society at an anniversary meeting, to the satisfaction of a majority of the members present, shall be expelled from the Society, and shall forever after be debarred from being received as a member thereof.

And it is hereby further ordained, that no incorporate county medical society shall fix any medical charges, and such proceedings are hereby declared to be discountenanced by this said Society, and to be null and void and of no effect’

And be it further ordained, by the authority aforesaid, that any member of the Society who October, 1906 [sic] may have been convicted of any serious offense against the laws of this State or of the United States, or who may be guilty of gross immorality, or who shall have improper pretensions to any specific or nostrum, or who shall be repeatedly guilty of improper conduct in the duties of his profession, or his behaviour in this Society, may be expelled at an anniversary meeting, upon a vote of two-thirds of the members present.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that when any accusation is lodged with the president, vice-president or secretary, of a nature which may subject a member of this Society to expulsion, according to the last two ordinances, such accusation or accusations shall be transmitted to the member accused, and a day shall be fixed at the anniversary meeting for his trial, which shall be fair and impartial; and the verdict of the member on such trial shall be delivered at the first meeting of the Society after the trial.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that all ex-members of this Society shall be honorary members thereof; and that the governor and lieutenant-governor of the State, the chancellor and judges of the supreme court for the time being, shall be ex-officio members of this said Society ; and all persons of distinguished literary talents who may be proposed as honorary members of this Society, must be nominated at an anniversary meeting, and shall not be elected before the next succeeding anniversary meeting, which shall be done by ballot; and there shall not be more than two honorary members elected in any one year.

And be it further ordained, that all honorary members shall have all the power of ordinary members, except they shall not vote on any question, nor be eligible to any office in the said Society, and a majority of votes shall admit an honorary member.

And be it further ordained by the authority aforesaid, that any county medical society who shall neglect to perform all such acts as may be required to be done by them, by the law incorporating medical societies, or any other law in the State relative to the science of medicine, or who shall do any acts which shall be considered degratory to the honor of the medical profession, or who shall oppose or neglect to comply with the by-laws of the said Society, every such county medical society shall be admonished touching any such proceeding; and if it be deemed necessary for the public good, that from the improper conduct of any such county medical society, their corporate rights should for a time be suspended, then and in such case it should be lawful and just for this said Society, to make application to the honorable the Legislature for such purpose.

(To be continued.)

PART II.

CHAPTER VII.

EARLY PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESSES.

The first presidential address delivered before the Medical Society of the State of New York, by Dr. Wm. McClelland, if there really was a formal annual address prepared for the second meeting, has not been preserved. The earliest annual address is that of Dr. Nicholas Romayne, the second President, at the Society’s third meeting in February, 1809. It is possible that this was the first formal presidential address, and as such it deserves a place in the Society’s history. The second and third addresses, delivered by Dr. Romayne, have also been deemed worthy of reprint, because they give an excellent idea of the development of the scope and usefulness of the Society as it appealed to men of intelligence and practical ability one hundred years ago. The second address serves to show how much Dr. Romayne himself had realized the Society’s possibilities during his year’s experience as its President. The third address has not been, so far as I know, hitherto reprinted from the early transactions, which are very rare and difficult to obtain.

.

ANNIVERSARY ADDRESS TO THE MEDICAL
SOCIETY OF THE STATE.

(Delivered by Nicholas Romayne, the second Tuesday of
February, 1809.)

Gentlemen :

In obedience to the ordinances of this Society, it is made my duty at this time to address you.

The statute “enacted on the 4th of April, 1806, to incorporate Medical Societies for the purpose of regulating the practice of Physic and Surgery,” marks a new era in the progress of science in the State. The Legislature has evinced a confidence in the Medical Profession, that the powers with which it is invested will be.exercised with moderation and justice, and that new efforts will be made to promote the knowledge of the healing art and to extend its usefulness.

The history of all the learned professions proves that none of them becomes extensively useful or respectable, except under the immediate restraint of its own members. It is the well-informed Physician or Surgeon who must be the proper judge of the nature and extent of the medical profession and of the qualifications and fitness of those who can be entrusted to exercise the same with safety and advantage to the public. It is such characters alone who are capable of guarding the community against that propensity of the human mind to credulity and the marvelous, which subjects a portion of mankind to the empire of ignorant and enthusiastic pretenders.

People in general must always be imperfectly informed in that special body of useful knowledge which distinguishes any one of the learned professions. If men are most liable to error and deception in their opinions on medical subjects, it must be considered that the healing art embraces an extensive range of objects, and that to comprehend its principles requires a more sound appeal to the understanding and judgment than is commonly possessed.

Every community does honor to itself which treats with liberality men conspicuous in the learned professions for their genius and talents. It is only among an illiterate people that they become the subjects of jealousy and persecution. Where ignorance and prejudice abound there empiricism is maintained; and as the genial influence of science and human improvement prevail, quackery and every kind of imposition diminish.

The successful practice of rational medicine is so much connected with an improved state of society that physicians are interested in becoming the patrons of the arts and sciences and all the various branches of education. The success which has attended the exertions of medical men in these particulars, especially in France, England and Germany, is conspicuous, and has been honorably acknowledged by those nations.

You, gentlemen, in the early establishment of this Society, have manifested a laudable disposition to favor the progress of Science. The members of this institution have been directed by the by-laws to scientific researches. Literary premiums have been offered for the last year to invite investigations on the topography, geology and mineralogy of the different counties of this commonwealth and on the nature and cure of those malignant fevers which have often had such fatal effects on our people; nor have the good effects of these exertions of this Society been unpromising or unworthy of notice. Some communications have already been made, which, when the circumstances of this Society will permit them to be presented to the public, may not be found uninteresting to the legislator, the patriot, or the friend of science.

The Society will no doubt continue to encourage such extensive researches and investigations, as by their happy result may add to the growing importance of the State. In a new and interesting country the resources and riches of which are not yet unfolded, and the effects of its varied climate on the human constitution, as yet but imperfectly examined, ample rewards must attend the labors of ingenious men, if judicially directed.

The science of medicine embraces the study and knowledge of nature and of those arts which are conducive to the subsistence, comfort and convenience of man. To fulfill our duties to the public the Society will consider it useful to examine the various vegetable productions of the State, to ascertain their medicinal powers or useful qualities, and to examine the fitness of the soil and climate for the reception of exotic plants. The territories of the United States, extending from the borders of Canada to the northern boundaries of Mexico, contain such variety of soil and climate, as seem calculated for the cultivation of all the medicinal plants and for the support of the different species of animals which inhabit the globe. It is not many years since indigo, rice and cotton plants were introduced into the Southern States, and the merino sheep, lately brought from Spain, promise to furnish clothing and afford wealth to our people. Nor will you be inattentive to encourage an examination of the mineral productions of the country as a source from which many medicines may be obtained, and as furnishing important requisites for public defence and national independence.

The waters of the ocean which wash the Southern District of the State are as strongly impregnated with sea salt as those in the Bay of Biscay, from which such quantities of salt are made in France. By establishing salt works on Long Island sufficient quantities of salt might be made to supply the United States.

The late worthy Mr. Solomon Simpson, of the City of New York, possessed valuable specimens of silver ores from the mines in the country of West Chester. In the middle district of the State there are several valuable mines. Besides those of iron, there are mines of manganese, and from the specimens which have been obtained, probably also of antimony.

The eastern district not only furnishes great quantities of iron ore, but the mineral springs with which it abounds prove the existence of subterraneous bodies which are constantly subject to chemical changes.

In the western district the valuable saline springs November, 1906 [sic], evidence the probable existence of large bodies of solid salt at no great distance from the surface of the earth, as the waters seem equally impregnated with salt in dry or rainy seasons. Valuable iron ores and large bodies of plaster of paris or sulphate of lime are found in this district. The Sulphur Springs, near the Seneca Lake, show the probable existence of masses of that mineral substance in the bowels of the earth. In these waters the sulphur is kept in solution by a portion of compound salt and an extra portion of sulphuric acid which abounds in the depositions of the sulphur.

The coal mines, which exist in Louisburgh and Rhode Island, in Pennsylvania and Virginia, render it probable that there are connecting strata of coal through this commonwealth and which may be the subject of future discovery.

The ingenious and observing in the medical profession will not be inattentive to those facts which may contribute to elucidate the origin, nature and cure of those malignant fevers which have raged as a pestilence in many parts of the State, and for which experience has yet afforded no settled mode of cure.

While the subjects for medical and scientific research are thus extensive, it must afford you, gentlemen, much satisfaction to reflect on the progress of professional knowledge in the public seminaries of the United States. In the Colleges and Academies of the University of this State the number of students of Medicine exceed one hundred. In the University of Cambridge, in Massachusetts, the students pursuing medical studies are sixty. At Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire, the medical students are upwards of seventy, and in the University of Pennsylvania there are upwards of three hundred, besides the students in the Medical College of Maryland. Professor Silliman, of Yale College, has now a class of one hundred students attending his instructions on Chemistry.

Though the nations of Europe are engaged in sanguinary wars, yet at no period have her philosophers been more successful in brilliant discoveries. During the last year Mr. Davy, the professor of chemistry in the Royal Institution at London, pursuing a train of ingenious investigations, he’s made some of the most important discoveries of which modern times can boast, or which have been presented to the world since the days of Sir Isaac Newton.

This indefatigable inquirer found, by a series of experiments on the alkalies, potash and soda, that they were convertible by certain processes into metallic substances and which he called potassium and sodaium, and of which these alkalies are the bases.

In examining the properties of the new metals, Mr. Davy experienced difficulties from their violent attraction for the constituent parts of almost all substances. If, however, covered with a thin transparent film of newly distilled naphtha, by which they are defended from the air, their physical qualities can be accurately examined. The metal of potash resembles mercury in its appearance. At the temperature of sixty degrees, it is less fluid than mercury; at one hundred degrees its fluidity is perfect; at fifty degrees it is malleable, and at thirty-two degrees it is crystallized.

The experiments of Mr. Davy have been repeated by the French philosophers with perfect success. Struck with the wonderful discoveries of this gentleman, the Emperor of France has awarded him a munificent present.

The discoveries of Mr. Davy have invited with success the attention of the Swedish chemists. The French and English chemists have also discovered metals of lime, barytcs and of magnesia. They have also succeeded in proving the metallic nature of ammonia, and rendered it probable that the very air we breathe contains metal in a gaseous form.

Though these brilliant discoveries have been made by the philosophers of Europe, yet the lovers of science and the arts in the United States have not been inattentive to a variety of useful improvements and interesting discoveries. Such, indeed, is the progress of our people in agriculture, manufactures and the useful arts, as to invite the respect of the civilized world.

Dr. Romayne having been re-elected President of the State Society, delivered at the annual meeting in 1810 the following address:

Gentlemen :

In addressing you, at this Anniversary Meeting, as Members of the Medical Society of the State, I cannot be insensible to the respectful consideration you merit from the community. Settled in the different Counties of this extensive State, enjoying domestic comforts, and the advantages to be derived from the professional employments, you subject yourselves to inconveniences; you submit to the loss of private emoluments, to meet at this place, in social harmony and concert to exercise the duties confided to you by law; to superintend the regulation of the Medical Profession in the State, and to favor the diffusion of knowledge of the Healing Art.

Nor are these powers confided to you by the Legislature, of small importance to the public. If the usefulness of the Healing Art be admitted, the necessity of regulating that profession must be obvious. However difficult be the task to perform, yet it is to your wise and salutary regulations that the public must resort for advice against the frauds of ignorant and designing pretenders. It is by your regulations that the community must be guarded against professional injustice or hardships; and it is under your authority and by your example that the practitioners of the Healing Art in this State must, by the fulfilling their respective duties, and extending their usefulness, obtain the respect of the people, and thus an honorable consideration for our profession.

The Statute of the 4th of April, 1806, contains many wise provisions for the regulation of the practice of Physic and Surgery in the State, and for improving the condition and extending the usefulness of the Medical Profession. The practitioners of Medicine, lawfully exercising their profession, in the several Counties of this State, were by that law permitted to associate themselves in incorporated societies, and each of them were directed to elect a Member to form this central Society of the State, which is invested with a controlling power, by virtue of their Bye-Laws, over the transactions of the County Societies.

Wholesome regulations for these purposes must be self-evident. Mankind are not fitted suddenly, but by slow degrees, for the privileges of self-government; and the perfection of human regulations must be the result of experience and reflection. It is not twenty years since a law was first enacted to authorize the Magistrates to require qualifications from those whom they might privilege to practice Physic and Surgery throughout the State. The professional rights and immunities which are now invested in the incorporated Medical Societies will, no doubt, be exercised with circumspection, and in the progress of their transactions, will manifest those useful regulations which may be conclusive of the justice and policy of their establishment.

The duties, however, of this Society, when considered in all the various relations to the County Societies and community at large, are highly important. To execute them happily and with most advantage to the public, must require from you much circumspection and serious reflection: and it will be a subject for your consideration, whether this Society may not be usefully aided in their deliberations by the salutary counsels of some of those gentlemen who are most conspicuous in the State for their liberality and Medical knowledge.

Certainly, to give stability to this Society, and a requisite degree of independence, are essential to enable it to perform with justice, the respective duties expected by the public. And no doubt, whatever, for this purpose, may be suggested, by the wisdom of your deliberations, will be confirmed by Legislative authority.

In the progress of the proceedings of this Society, some attention has been paid to devise means for the prevention of those frauds which are often practiced on the community by ignorant and designing pretenders in Medicine. But this subject, when attentively considered, has always been involved in difficulties so extensive, that a remedy has hardly been found for the evil. ,

At a former session of the Legislature a law was passed, which debarred those who were not lawfully authorized to practice Physic and Surgery, from recovering, by legal process, any compensation for their services or remedies. Perhaps the provisions of this law went as far as Legislative power can be wisely extended. Whenever it has exceeded these bounds, the people have too commonly considered the power of the law as favouring of persecution, and instead of diminishing the mischiefs of quackery, they have been increased. The propensity to empiricism is, in some measure, connected with the constitution of the human mind, and induces men, when labouring under disease, to look to delusive sources for relief. Nor are persons capable of correctly judging for themselves, when tortured by pain, or distressed by affliction.

Though the evils of quackery seem so difficultly prevented by Legislative power, yet it is always remedied by the influence of public opinion, which becomes more imposing, as the state of society is cultivated and improved. When Practitioners of Medicine are diligent and judicious in the exercise of their professions, they manifest to men of any discernment, their superior skill and success in the cure of diseases; and will show, in a striking point of view, the difference between the well educated Physician and Surgeon, and the mere pretender to professional knowledge.

It may also be remarked that Physicians have not been sufficiently attentive to correcting certain opinions, which commonly prevail in communities, respecting Scientific Virtues and an Universal Remedy. With little trouble or address, it would be easy to satisfy the meanest capacities, that such is the difference of constitutions and habits among men, that what would be useful to one person, might be prejudicial to another; that what would be proper in one stage of a disease, might have deleterious effects in another; that the best and most valuable Medicines only prove remedies when they are administered properly, and under favourable circumstances; and that the knowledge of their successful application must be acquired from accurate conceptions of the philosophy of the human body, of the laws of health, and of morbid actions under disease. As the progress of Medical knowledge is more evident, our ideas of Specific Remedies, and of their fallacy become more correct; and it is fact, generally admitted, that the efficacy of all secret medicines, and their wonderful powers, are lost, as soon as the nature of the article be made public.

I shall not contend how secret medicines may operate on the mind, and influence the actions of the body, nor dwell on the incorrectness of our passions, and opinions, when not restrained by the power of reason.

In forming the ordinances of this Society, you have not been unmindful of the interest of the public, and your own professional dignity. You have prohibited the Medical Societies, in their corporate capacities, from fixing or regulating medical charges. Careful in supporting the respect of the Medical Profession, you have been attentive to regulate transactions which might injure it in public opinion.

While you have admitted the propriety of reasonable compensation, to be obtained for professional services, you have been sensible that no general regulations could be made to apply without manifest injustice. In the Medical, as well as in the other liberal professions, there must be difference of qualification, arising from age and experience, from different opportunities of education, and from genius and talents. Again, in the community we observe the various conditions of men, from the extremes of poverty and wretchedness, to that of wealth and luxury. In diseases, even of the same genus, we observe a difference in their nature in different persons; the one requiring serious attention and study, while the other imposes on the mind no difficulties. To exact much professional compensation from those in contracted circumstances, might be oppressive; and not to require ample reward from those, who abound in wealth, would be injustice to the profession.

Medicine has long been considered one of the liberal professions, in which services were to be compensated by the munificence of the public, not by arbitrary exactions or legal demands, which, in the professions, are always odious to the people. It was by conduct truly liberal that, in early ages, the Medical character was often considered in the exalted point of view. In the Scriptures, the character of the Physician is often mentioned with respectful consideration. Hippocrates rejected all the wealth and honour which the Persian monarch had to bestow, and refused him his medical aid, because he was the enemy of his Countrymen, the Greeks. In Modern Europe, wherever the Medical Profession is respectable, professional services are liberallv rewarded by voluntary compensations.

Hitherto, in the United States, the Medical profession has been placed on the footing of the mechanic arts; and the Courts of Justice have allowed compensations for Medical services upon the common principles of a quantum meruit. But it would be injustice in us to suppose, that our countrymen; who are so conspicuous for their liberality and enlightened views, who form now one of the richest communities in the civilized world, would be wanting in justice to the Medical profession, if the principles upon which compensation should be expected, were explained or generally understood. Changes from former habits can only be gradually effected; but that justice which the profession has a right to demand, it is confidently hoped, will in time be liberally yielded.

These expectations, may be the more readily cherished, from the favourable impression which the establishment of the Medical Societies, have made on the public mind. You cannot be uninformed of the satisfaction, that has been expressed, on different occasions, by numbers of our respectable citizens, that those to whom they confided the preservation of their health, should meet together in social harmony, to improve their profession, and extend the knowledge of the healing art.

To aid the progress of our Sessional improvements, the regular publication of an abridgement of your Journals may have a useful effect. The liberality with which your proceedings have been hitherto conducted, cannot fail of giving importance to this Institution, and favouring the confidence of the public in your exertions.— [Passage of non-medical interest omitted.—Ed.]

Every circumstance connected with the new Institution which contributes to the success of the establishment, merits attention. Though the minds of the people of this State are often agitated, from political zeal, and party considerations, and of which you, as members of the community, must more or less partake; yet it must be mentioned to the honour of this Society, that its members have always kept in view, that the Commonwealth of Science is of no party, that it cherishes a spirit of universal benevolence and improvement, and that it favours a liberal intercourse among men, that it indeed consecrates the fraternity of the great family of mankind. Thus when our countryman, Dr. Franklin, who disarmed the clouds of thunder and taught lightning to play harmless about our feet, the discovery was made for the benefit of all nations. So the great family of mankind are daily enjoying the improvements of our countryman, the Count Rumford, in domestic economy. And among foreign nations, can you view Jenner, who taught us to elude a loathsome, and often fatal, disease, the Small Pox, but as the friend of human kind? Can you consider Davy, whose brilliant discoveries and laborious researches does honour to the age in which we live, but as a brother, engaged in the fields of science, and exploring and unfolding the hidden combinations of matter. And are not the philosophers of France. Germany, and other parts of the world, whose labours and genius are engaged in extending human happiness and exalting our nature, part of yourselves? Are you not encouraged by their high example to diligent investigation and attentive research, to afford some addition to the stock of human knowledge, and to view as unworthy of your notice, the bickerings of party, or the cries of public animosity?

While you must reflect, with much satisfaction, on the principles of justice and moderation by which you have been influenced in constituting this Society, as well as in the progress of your proceedings, the instructive example of your conduct, will teach your successors, that the temple of science was viewed by you, as that of peace, and that its tranquility could not be disturbed, without aiming at the destruction of the only remnant of the Divine origin, which bad passions, have left in the character, and conduct of men.

This Society has not only taken a lively interest, in whatever has tended to promote the diffusion of Medical knowledge, but has given excitement to those efforts, which are making to cherish education throughout the State; and it must afford the highest satisfaction to every member of this Institution, that the result has been so favourable to Science. The City of NewYork, at present, affords a greater number of Students of Medicine than at any former period; and they manifest a zeal in their application, which promises the happiest success. The Trustees of the Academy at Fairfield, in the County of Herkimer, with generous sentiments toward the Medical Profession, have afforded their patronage to two Professors, who are engaged with zeal, and assiduity, in teaching some of the branches of medicine.

The Botanic Garden in the City of New-York, founded by Dr. Hosack, continues to be cherished by that indefatigable Botanist, and enriched by additions of domestic and exotic plants. In a short time there will be here collected, under one view, all those plants, which are used by the native Indians for Medicinal purposes. The usefulness of this establishment has been already the subject of your investigation, and you have generously recommended it to the patronage of the Honourable the Legislature.

Dr. Bruce, Professor of Mineralogy in the University of this State, is now engaged in publishing a mineralogical journal, which will be a periodical work, and promises to be of national importance. This publication will, no doubt, merit the paronage of this Society, and will induce the respective members to enrich it with the result of their investigations of the mineral kingdom. This journal will give a minute account of the mineral productions in the United States, and such discoveries as may be made by future investigation. It will highly deserve the notice of the public as being the first attempt in this State to encourage mineralogical researches.

During the last year, Dr. Mitchill, Professor of Natural History and Botany in the University of this State, delivered his courses of instruction on those branches of Science, with such success, as to attract the attention of many respectable citizens. These discourses were luminous in explaining the Natural History of the United States, and will, no doubt, contribute to diffuse a taste for this kind of knowledge, and encourage a spirit of investigation and research. The public have been favored with the outlines of Professor Mitchill’s lectures, in the last number of the Medical Repository, and which will be read with much satisfaction by all classes of citizens.

The spirit of inquiry among the philosophers of Europe, which for some time past has been attended with so much success, is continued with unremitting attention. The brilliant discoveries of Professor Davy, respecting the Metallic nature of the Alkalies and the Earths, were laid before the public last year. About four months ago, this ingenious inquirer, stated at the New Institute in London, as the result of analysis and attentive research, that of the palpable substances, there were but two in nature in an elementary state, viz., Oxygen and Metal. The Earths and the Alkalies had been demonstrated to be Metallic Oxyds, either by exhibiting them alone, or in alloys with mercury or other metals. The inflammable bodies. Sulphur, Charcoal, Phosphorus, and the basis of the Boracic Acid had all been decompounded, and yielded metal. Accordingly, Hydrogen was conjectured to contain a Metallic basis, susceptible to eight degrees of Oxygenation, and by difference of combination, to constitute inflammable matter, Alkali, Water, Oxyds, and even Acids.

The facts more lately developed tend to subvert the systems of Lavoisier, and the French Chemists, which for some years has claimed the assent of the Chemical world. The experiments made in confirmation of the French doctrines were so specious, that they were admitted by the celebrated Dr. Black, and other eminent men in Europe, while the American Philosophers, Mitchill and Priestley, continued to entertain doubts on the subject of those experiments, as not sufficiently conclusive, to subvert the doctrines, founded on the Inflammable Principle, or Phlogiston, of Becker and Stahl.

While your attention may be directed to whatever will, in the remotest degree, improve the Medical Profession, and extend its usefulness, there is one subject which seriously calls for your deliberations. A fever of a most malignant nature, appeared a year or two ago in Connecticut, in the winter season, and proved fatal to many respectable citizens. The reports respecting its nature, makes it a disease probably different from the Yellow Fever, or the common Putrid or Nervous Fevers of the Country. This Spotted Fever, as it is called, has appeared within a few months, in some parts of the County of Orange, and has in many instances proved fatal. It may appear in other parts of the State. In your present session you will doubtless set on foot such inquiry respecting the nature and successful treatment of this disease, as may merit the attention of the public. You have already offered premiums to promote Medical researches. Though the funds of the Society be limited, and arise from the voluntary contributions of its members, yet, on the present occasion it must redound to the honour of this Institution, to offer a Prize Medal, for the best Dissertation, on the nature and cure of this malignant Spotted Fever.

It is by such acts of disinterested benevolence and humanity, that the members of this Institution will obtain the respect of their Countrymen, and receive the high rewards which await the merciful and the just. It is by your generous efforts to arrest the tide of pestilence, and relieve the bed of sorrow, that you will merit the blessings of those who are ready to perish.

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