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Benjamin Rush


Benjamin Rush, Independence National Historical Park
Benjamin Rush
Independence National Historical Park
Benjamin Rush was born on the 24th of December, 1745, O. S. in the township of Byberry, twelve or fourteen miles northeast of Philadelphia. His ancestors emigrated front England to Pennsylvania, about the year 1683.
   The father of young Rush died when he was six years of age. The care of his education therefore devolved upon his mother, who well understood the importance of knowledge, and early took measures to give her son a liberal education. Young Rush was sent to the academy at Nottingham, in Maryland, about sixty miles southeast from Philadelphia. This academy had long been conducted, with great reputation, by the Reverend Dr. Finley, afterwards president of Princeton college, in New-Jersey.
   Under the care of this excellent man, and among the people of Nottingham, who were remarkable for their simplicity, industry, morality, and religion, Rush spent five years, in acquiring a knowledge of the Greek and Latin languages. In this retired spot, and at this early age, he is said to have been deeply impressed with a reverence for religion, with the importance of a regular life, and of diligence, industry, and a punctual attention to business; and in general, of such steady habits, as stamped a value on his character through life. The solid foundation which was thus laid for correct principles and an upright conduct, was chiefly the work of the learned and pious Dr. Finley. He was an accomplished instructor of youth. He trained his pupils for both worlds, having respect in all his intercourse with them, to their future, as well as present state of existence.
   After finishing his preparatory studies at Nottingham, he was entered in 1759, a student in the college of Princeton, then under the superintendence of President Davies. Such had been his progress in his classical studies at Nottingham, that he obtained the degree of bachelor of arts in 1760, and before he had completed his fifteenth year.
   On leaving college, he commenced the study of medicine, under the direction of the eminent Dr. Redman, of Philadelphia. He was also one of Dr. Shippen's ten pupils, who attended the first course of anatomical lectures given in this country. In 1766, he went to Edinburgh, where he spent two years at the university in that city, and from which he received the degree of M. D. in 1768.
   The next winter after his graduation he spent in London; and the following spring having visited France, in the autumn of the same year he returned to Philadelphia, and commenced the practice of medicine.
   In 1769, he was elected professor of chemistry in the college of Philadelphia. This addition to Drs. Shippen, Morgan, Kuhn, and Bond, who had begun to lecture a few years before, completed the various departments, and fully organized this first medical school in America. By a subsequent arrangement in 1791, the college was merged in a university, and Dr. Rush was appointed professor of the institutes and practice of medicine, and of clinical practice, in the university of Pennsylvania.

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Last modified January 1, 2004