Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health
Many years ago, as an undergraduate freshman in an American history class, I was assigned a term paper on a topic relating to the colonial era. The project necessitated a visit to the New York Historical Society, which led to a lifetime love affair with primary source documents and a deep and abiding interest in the lives and writings of America’s founders. The founders highlighted in this study, including George and Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and James and Dolley Madison, were unusually prolific writers; Thomas Jefferson alone wrote nearly eighteen thousand letters and numerous essays and documents. I have attempted to be judicious in choosing to use excerpts from only those letters that illustrate the themes of this book, but some readers might want to look at an even larger sampling of their work. We are very fortunate that over the last few years, in addition to robust print volumes, much of the founders’ correspondence and many of their papers are now available in wonderfully convenient, accessible, on-line editions. Especially noteworthy are the Rotunda electronic imprint of the University of Virginia Press; the Library of Congress American Memory Project; the Adams Family Papers and the Thomas Jefferson Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society; and the Papers of Benjamin Franklin made available through the auspices of the American Philosophical Society and Yale University.
As always, I am indebted to numerous friends, colleagues, and “boosters” along the way. First, I’d like to express my sincere appreciation to my distinguished colleague Dr. Alan Kraut of American University. He graciously read early drafts of many chapters in this book and astutely offered valuable suggestions for how to make my arguments more effective. As author E. B. White once observed, “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and good writer,” and Alan has filled both those roles admirably! I’d also like to thank Dr. Rebecca Tannenbaum of Yale University, Dr. Elaine Breslaw at the University of Tennessee, and Dr. Joyce Goodfriend of the University of Denver for their excellent critiques and valuable feedback, as well as for their sharing of helpful resources at various stages in my writing and research. Dr. John Stagg, editor-in-chief of the Papers of James Madison, also generously shared his expertise with me.
At the University of Denver, Provost Gregg Kvistad and Dean Nancy Allen of Penrose Library offered encouragement from the beginning of this project, and I am especially grateful for having been awarded a Fall 2012 sabbatical leave with an enhancement as well as a Faculty Research Fund grant, both of which assisted in the completion of this book. Thank you to my colleague Thyria Wilson for her assistance with preparing for publication many of the photographs that appear in this book and to the staff at the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Library of Congress for their helpful advice in accessing their marvelous historical photograph collection. At New York University Press, I am grateful to Deborah Gershenowitz for her enthusiastic support of this project from the beginning and her skillful editing and to Emily Wright, copyeditor par excellence. When Deborah moved to another press near the end of my writing phase, editorial assistant Constance Grady provided outstanding and highly efficient service and served as my lifeline to the press. Clara Platter, the new American history and law editor at NYU Press, stepped in with admirable energy and expertise and has been a wonderful source of support as I entered the final stages of revising and editing. This book is dedicated to my loving family for as always, my husband Lewis and our children and grandchildren, as well as dear friends too numerous to mention, have been a constant encouragement.
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