Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv

Contents

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pp. v-v

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

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 ...

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Introduction: Health and Medicine in the Era of America’s Founders

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pp. 1-32

The literature about America’s early leaders continues to proliferate, but instead of placing the usual emphasis on the political roles of the nation’s founders or their personal relationships, this book will focus a lens on their experiences with health, illness, and medical treatment. The lives of America’s founding mothers and fathers demonstrate that today’s ...

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1. George and Martha Washington: Health, Illness, and the First Family

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pp. 33-78

In his many portraits, America’s first president and “Foundingest Father,”1 George Washington, is depicted as a tall, commanding figure, with an elegantly slim but strong, muscular physique. Indeed, at a little over six feet, Washington towered above most of his contemporaries, and by all accounts was a revered and imposing man who commanded ...

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2. Benjamin Franklin: A Founding Father of American Medicine

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pp. 79-118

Benjamin Franklin has become an iconic figure in American history as a highly versatile and visible revolutionary leader and statesman, skillful diplomat, sage writer, successful businessman, and innovative scientist, but few today realize that this multidimensional Renaissance man was also a pivotal player in the development of medicine in early America. ...

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3. Abigail and John Adams: Partners in Sickness and Health

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pp. 119-168

Abigail Smith Adams, born on November 11, 1744, in Weymouth, Massachusetts, was no stranger to illness, so it is not surprising that the subject of health and disease occupied such a prominent place in her life. Recurrent childhood illnesses, especially rheumatic fever, which would also later haunt her as an adult, kept Abigail from attending ...

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4. Thomas Jefferson: Advocate for Healthy Living

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pp. 169-198

In 1766, 23-year-old Thomas Jefferson traveled from Virginia by horsedrawn carriage nearly three hundred miles to Philadelphia to be inoculated for smallpox. Jefferson was at the time a tall, fit, lanky young man in fine health, but he undertook the then-controversial treatment to prevent contracting an acute future case of the devastating disease. Inoculation was ...

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5. Thomas Jefferson: The Health of the Nation

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pp. 199-230

As president, Thomas Jefferson used his considerable influence to advance American medicine, most notably in his unwavering support of the Jenner method of smallpox vaccination and his insistence that the Lewis and Clark expedition gather information about Indian diseases and treatments as part of its mission. His republican philosophy had ...

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Epilogue: Evolutionary Medicine

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pp. 231-239

Not only were America’s founders political actors on the stage of the eighteenth-century world, but on multiple levels they contributed to advancements in American medicine, illustrating the complex links between politics and health. This was perhaps most visible in the manner in which intellectual leaders like Washington, Franklin, Adams, ...

Notes

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pp. 241-276

Bibliography

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pp. 277-287

Index

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pp. 289-305

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About the Author

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pp. 306-306

Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at Penrose Library and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver. She received her Ph.D. in American history from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a specialization in archival management. She is the author of Jewish ...