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Fiat Flux

The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher

William D. Lindsey

Publication Year: 2013

Wilson R. Bachelor was a Tennessee native who moved with his family to Franklin County, Arkansas, in 1870. A country doctor and natural philosopher, Bachelor was impelled to chronicle his life from 1870 to 1902, documenting the family’s move to Arkansas, their settling a farm in Franklin County, and Bachelor’s medical practice. Bachelor was an avid reader with wide-ranging interests in literature, science, nature, politics, and religion, and he became a self-professed freethinker in the 1870s. He was driven by a concept he called “fiat flux,” an awareness of the “rapid flight of time” that motivated him to treat the people around him and the world itself as precious and fleeting. He wrote occasional pieces for a local newspaper, bringing his unusually enlightened perspectives to the subjects of women’s rights, capital punishment, the role of religion in politics, and the domination of the American political system by economic elite in the 1890s. These essays, along with family letters and the original diary entries, are included here for an uncommon glimpse into the life of a country doctor in nineteenth-century Arkansas.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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p. vii-vii

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pp. ix-xv

The biblical Wisdom-tradition writer Ecclesiastes says that of making books there is no end, and this is true in part because there’s no end to the number of people through whose hands the text of a book passes before it’s published, hands that help weave the strands that fashion the final text. Text, through its etymology, points to the metaphor of weaving on which I’m relying here to describe how a text, a book, is ...

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Forward: Dale Bumpers

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p. xvii-xvii

We are pleased to recommend this fine study of the life and work od Wilson R. Bachelor, M.D., of Franklin County, Arkansas, the county where I was born and reared, In fact, in the 19th century the farm land of the extended Bumpers family adjoined the lands of Dr. Bachelor, with the two families sharing ...

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Forward: Thomas A Bruce

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pp. xix-xx

The range of serious health problems in southern communities during the decades just after the Civil War was enormous, probably larger than we see in the great medical centers today. For rural doctors the resources at hand were very limited, however. Such was the setting for the medical practice of Dr. Wilson R. Bachelor in west-central Arkansas. From his diary we get only a ...

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Introduction: Wilson R. Bachelor, Whys and Wherefores

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pp. 3-37

The nineteenth-century Arkansan on whose life and work this book focuses, Wilson Richard Bachelor (1827–1903), will hardly be a household name for most of those who read this collection of his writings. Even scholars who have a more than passing acquaintance with the state’s history would probably be hard pressed to place him in its historical narrative. Bachelor did author a ...

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Diary of Wilson R. Bachelor

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pp. 39-92

I moved my family aboard [a] flat Boat1 at Morris Landing2 with another f[amily] and about 4 P.M. I bid adieu to my friends and the pine clad Hills of the Romantic Ten[nessee], unmoored and rowed out, and began to descend the stream; we stoped awhile in Bend Shoals to Receive[d] another family. [A]fter tarrying a sho[rt] time, and bidding adieu to some verry warm friends, we again ...

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Occasional Pieces from the Scrapbookof Wilson R. Bachelor

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pp. 93-132

Fifty years ago I read in the Bible, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.” Twelve years ago I read, “Brahma formed the man and the woman out of the purest of himself, and this done he rested etc.” Taking reason as my compass and guiding star, I could not decide which of these ...

Letters of Wilson R. Bachelor

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pp. 133-137

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pp. 139-149

When Dr. Wilson R. Bachelor came to the Arkansas River Valley shortly after the Civil War, he would have found himself truly on the frontier of both society and medical practice. The years of Civil War and Reconstruction witnessed a descent into near-anarchy in the counties lying east of the Indian Territory border and south of the Arkansas River. Indeed, farther south near the Red ...

Appendix I

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p. 151-151

Appendix II

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pp. 153-154

Appendix III

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p. 155-155

Appendix IV

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p. 157-157

Appendix V

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pp. 159-161


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pp. 163-265

Works Cited

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pp. 267-281


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pp. 283-306

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About the Author

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p. 307-307

WILSON R. BACHELOR (1827–1903) was a country doctor and writercolleges and universities. He is the author or coauthor of several books,University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and inaugural dean and emeritus professor of health policy and management, University of...

E-ISBN-13: 9781610755252
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557286369

Page Count: 236
Publication Year: 2013