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Page 6

Benjamin Rush

1745-1813


   This political knowledge, and political integrity, were so well appreciated, that sundry offices were conferred upon him. He was a member of the celebrated congress of 1776, which declared these states free and independent. This event Dr. Rush perceived to be the harbinger of important blessings to the American people. He was not one of those, who thought so much of commerce, of the influx of riches, or high rank among the nations. These, indeed, he well knew were consequences which would result from the declaration of independence. But these he viewed as a minor consideration, compared with the increase of talents and knowledge. The progress of eloquence, of science, and of mind, in all its various pursuits, was considered by him as the necessary effect of republican constitutions, and in the prospect of them he rejoiced. Nor was he disappointed for in a lecture, delivered in November, 1799, he observes "from a strict attention to the state of mind in this country, before the year 1774, and at the present time, I am satisfied the ratio of intellect is as twenty are to one, and of knowledge as a hundred are to one, in these states, compared with what they were before the American revolution." In 1777, lie was appointed physician general of the military hospital in the middle department, sometime after which he published his observations on our hospitals, army diseases, and the effects of the revolution on the army and people.
   In 1787, he became a member of the convention of Pennsylvania for the adoption of the federal constitution. This constitution received his warmest approbation. He pronounced the federal government a masterpiece of human wisdom. From it he anticipated a degree of felicity to the American people which they have not, and probably never will, experience.
   For the last fourteen years of his life, he was treasurer for the United States mint, by appointment of President Adams; an office which was conferred upon him, as a homage to his talents and learning, and by means of which something was added to his revenue.
   Dr. Rush took a deep interest in the many private associations, for the advancement of human, happiness, with which Pennsylvania abounds. In the establishment of the Philadelphia Dispensary, the first institution of the kind in the United States, he led the way. He was the principal agent in founding Dickinson College, in Carlisle; and through his influence, the Rev. Dr. Nisbet, of Montrose, in Scotland, was induced to remove to America to take charge of it. For some years, he was president of the society for the abolition of slavery, and, also, of the Philadelphia Medical Society. He was a founder of the Philadelphia Bible Society, and one of its vice presidents, and a vice president of the American Philosophical Society. He was an honorary member of many of the literary institutions, both of this country and of Europe. In 1805, he was honored by the King of Prussia, with a medal, for his replies to certain questions on the yellow fever. On a similar account, he was presented with a gold medal in 1807, from the Queen of Etruria; and in 1811, the Emperor of Russia sent him a diamond ring, as a testimony of his respect for his medical character.

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Last modified January 1, 2004