Ross, Robert

Rush, Benjamin (1745-1813) Physician and Social Reformer: Benjamin Rush was born in Byberry Township, Pennsylvania, in December 24, 1745. His father died when young Rush was six years old. After graduating from the College of New Jersey (later called Princeton), Rush went to the University of Edinburgh in Scotland to continue his medical studies. Attending medical lectures in England, as well as France, where he met and befriended Benjamin Franklin, who helped him pay for his expenses. Rush returned to the United States in 1769, settling in Philadelphia and obtaining a position teaching chemistry in Philadelphia's Medical College. As the movement toward revolution began, Rush became a strong patriot. In addition, he published essays on slavery, temperance and health in 1771. A signer of the Declaration of Independence, he was appointed Physician-General, helping tend the wounded in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine and other battles. During the war, Rush wrote public letters against the Articles of Confederation. In 1778, Rush resigned from his military office because of the unfairness of the manner in which hospital stores were used for soldiers, as well as the ill feeling that had developed between himself and General George Washington. Returning to Philadelphia, Rush set up a medical practice, and resumed his duties as professor. For 29 years, he was surgeon to the Pennsylvania hospital, and served as port physician to Philadelphia from 1790 to 1793. Founder of Dickinson College and the Philadelphia Dispensary, he was a major proponent of public education, about which he wrote extensively. In 1787, he served on the Pennsylvania Convention which ratified the US Constitution, and was involved in the creation of the Pennsylvania Constitution, as well. In 1793, Philadelphia was struck by a severe epidemic of yellow fever. Rush was one of the few doctors who chose to remain in the city to help tend the sick. Due to his request, many African Americans also remained in the city to help the sick, some at the cost of their lives. From 1799 to the end of his life, Rush was the treasurer of the US Mint. In addition, he served as president of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery; president of the Philadelphia Medical Society; vice-president and co-founder of the Philadelphia Bible Society; and vice-president of the American Philosophical Society. A renown lecturer in medicine, Rush made Philadelphia a center for medical studies in the United States. In addition to his many writings on philosophy, education, politics, and other social issues; he wrote extensively on medical topics. Rush died on April 19, 1813, in Philadelphia.