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Doctoring Freedom

The Politics of African American Medical Care

Gretchen Long

Publication Year: 2012

For enslaved and newly freed African Americans, attaining freedom and citizenship without health for themselves and their families would have been an empty victory. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was a critical battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain at least some of that control. In Doctoring Freedom, Gretchen Long tells the stories of African Americans who fought for access to both medical care and medical education, showing the important relationship between medical practice and political identity.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

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Acknowledgments

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pp. viii-xv

Julie Saville, Tom Holt, Amy Dru Stanley, and Ken Warren helped me to shape what grew from an unfocused interest in medical care and African American history into a book manuscript. Julie Saville’s questions helped me to connect this project with phenomena in the wider Atlantic world. ...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

“What about the colored doctor? . . . with the hospital, and the diamond ring, and the carriage, and the other fallals?” asks Colonel McBane, a vicious white supremacist in Charles Chesnutt’s 1901 novel, The Marrow of Tradition. McBane and his two cronies, upset about the rising position of African Americans in their small southern city, are making plans to run a number of prominent black men out of town. ...

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ONE: When the Slaves Got Sick: Antebellum Medical Practice

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pp. 11-43

In 1856 a brief article by planter and physician W. C. Daniell titled “Health of Young Negroes” appeared in the southern agricultural journal DeBow’s Review. Daniell wrote that, from “recent conversations” with a fellow Louisiana sugar planter, he had learned that “lock jaw” had killed a large number of infants on Louisiana sugar estates. His article was an attempt to share with other planters a postpartum regime that would decrease ...

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TWO: Sickness Rages Fearfully among Them: A Wartime Medical Crisis and Its Implications

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pp. 44-69

“Shelter, clothing, fuel, physicians bills and expenses of burials have been a very heavy tax on us, for so large a class, so destitute of every thing.” Thus did O. H. Browning, a former U.S. senator from Illinois, assess the situation of the African American people he encountered during the Civil War. His words acknowledge the numbers of needy African Americans during this time. ...

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THREE: We Have Come Out Like Men: African American Military Medical Care

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pp. 70-89

Union army officers and white reformers were not the only authors of appeals for medical aid for fugitive ex-slaves. Letters and testimonials written by African American soldiers frequently described medical and living conditions and stressed the urgent need for aid. However, the premise of their appeals was different from that of either the officers or the reformers. ...

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FOUR: We Have Come to a Conclusion to Bind Ourselves Together: African American Associations and Medical Care

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pp. 90-113

“I think they might help you it is only just.”1 Running across this fragment of a letter and knowing that it concerned health care for African Americans during Reconstruction, a reader might assume it was addressed to a freedman in desperate need of help for himself or his family. In fact, the writer—a white chief surgeon in Georgia ...

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FIVE: No License; Nor No Deplomer: Regulating Private Medical Practice and Public Space

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pp. 114-138

In the winter of 1866, John Donalson wrote a letter to General Oliver Howard, head of the Freedmen’s Bureau in Washington, D.C. Donalson’s was one of the thousands of letters sent by African Americans in the South during the earliest years of freedom. Unlike most African Americans, he was a medical practitioner. Donalson’s letter is typical of this huge body of correspondence in several ways.1 ...

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SIX: By Nature Specially Fitted for the Care of the Sufferer: Black Doctors, Nurses, and Patients after the War

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pp. 139-178

“Sacks of grits, soap, and mince pies” are on a list of charitable contributions to a hospital by African American citizens and prospective patients in Philadelphia at the end of the nineteenth century. The African American community had decided to take matters into its own hands and build a hospital that would accept African Americans as patients, ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 179-184

For enslaved African Americans, the attainment of freedom and citizenship without health for themselves and their families would have been an empty victory. Even before emancipation, African Americans recognized that control of their bodies was a critical battleground in their struggle for autonomy, and they devised strategies to retain at least some of that control. ...

Notes

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pp. 185-204

Bibliography

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pp. 205-216

Index

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pp. 217-234


E-ISBN-13: 9781469601472
E-ISBN-10: 1469601478
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807835838
Print-ISBN-10: 0807835838

Page Count: 256
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture