Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dr. Benjamin Rush: An Underrated Signer

 George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine and Lewis and Clark. Each of these men owe a great deal of their success to a lesser known man named Benjamin Rush.

Each and every one of the aforementioned characters was aided in one way shape or form by Dr. Benjamin Rush.

In 1813, at the time of his death, Dr. Benjamin Rush was arguably one of America’s three most notable men, George Washington and Ben Franklin being the others. Rush was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, he served under 3 presidents, founded five colleges, and trained thousandas of medical students.

In June 1776, he was appointed to represent Philadelphia at the Continental Congress. He later became the physician-general of the Continental Army, where he campaigned for the removal of George Washington as the Army General, after a series of defeats. He later expressed regret for his actions. Washington and Rush were not the best of friends...

Read more about the conversations between George Washington and Benjamin Rush.

Rush is most famous, however, for helping to reconcile the friendship of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.

Dr. Rush did not align himself with either party. His ecumenical approach to politics allowed him to foster relationships with men from both parties, and kept him employed under three different Presidents of varying political beliefs. Thus, Rush was friendly with both Jefferson and Adams.

Rush's efforts would eventually help to reconcile differences between the two great minds. Our good friend Hercules Mulligan of the Foundation Forum puts it best on his blog entry: The Dream of Benjamin Rush. Why reinvent the wheel? Read his post, after finishing mine of course.

Rush also played an important role in the creation of one of America's most influential and inspiring documents, the pro-independence Common Sense. Rush consulted Thomas Paine on the writing of the document.

Thomas Jefferson sent Meriwether Lewis to Philadelphia to meet with Dr. Rush with the hope of preparing them for their great exploration. Rush taught Lewis about many of the illnesses he would encounter in the frontier as well as a crash course on bloodletting. Rush provided the expedition crew with a medical kit which included laxatives that contained mercury. As it turns out, these laxatives came in very handy as the lack of clean water and the diet heavy in meat caused the corps to use the pills often.

Incidentally, the large traces of mercury in the crews' feces have allowed scientists and archaeologists to trace more closely the actual route blazed by Lewis and Clark.

All this said, I'm proud to be a founding teacher of a brand new high school in the Philadelphia School District named none other than: The Arts Academy @ Benjamin Rush.

I'm very fortunate to be a part of this once in a lifetime opportunity of building a high school from the ground up... from the mission statement to graduation. I can't wait to get started.

If anyone out there has any experience in a brand new school... and I mean brand new, first time opened... please share some pointers.

For more information about Benjamin Rush, visit:
Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician

You shouldn't have any trouble finding information about Rush. Rush wrote over 2,000 pages of published letters and essays, in addition to hundreds of unpublished papers. His works are scattered around the world and can be found in both public and private collections.
Here are just a few of his selected writings.

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Hercules Mulligan said...

Congratulations again on your new position!

I am glad that Benjamin Rush is being remembered again in America, as the influential Founder he was.

Thanks for your link to my post. The information still fascinates me.

Have fun teaching!

Anonymous said...

Great post!

~~Nate Levin

adam hodge said...

I don't know how to ask this...L&C take and dump over 200 years ago and we still find it to know the route?

Tara Toth said...

Benjamin Rush is my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather. I am completely serious. He was brilliant! I wish I knew more about him!

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