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RightNation.US: A Bleeder on Our Declaration of Independance? - RightNation.US

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I'm reading a very interesting book called, "Blood, An Epic History of Medicine and Commerce" by Douglas Starr. I just started it and ran across this trivia tidbit. I didn't think I'd be doing many blogs for a bit but I may continue on in some tidbits regarding what I'm reading now. If you all want to hear bits of trivia on blood---this will be the place. :dramaqueen:

Did you all know that one of the men who signed of the Declaration of Independance was called the "Prince of Bleeders?" His name was Benjamin Rush and appears above Benjamin Franklin's name. He was also very aggressive regarding his blood letting techniques and taught on them. Rush believed the body held twenty five pounds of blood. He believed twenty can be drained safely. If someone fainted during the bleeding, the procedure was considered to have worked better. FYI--twenty five pounds of blood is double the amount of blood the body actually holds!

In Philadelphia in 1793, an outbreak of Yellow Fever reared it's ugly head. It was the worst outbreak of Yellow Fever in American history. Rush came into the city and began his regimine of purging and bleeding each patient. Purging with Mercury(to induce vomitting), Jalap(to induce diarhea) and bleeding. He is known for his bravery at strolling the streets during a horrible epidemic when others were afraid or had abandoned the city. According to the book, he would treat as if he were telling people they had the common cold and it could be cured.

From the book:

"Rush deserved to savor the moment. He had conducted himself with courage, dedication, and selflessness. Yet his science, as we now know, was tragically wrong. This brave, pious, genuinely saintly man undoubtedly killed more people than he cured."

A man named William Cobbett spoke out against Rush to the point where he was sued for libel. Cobbett was found guilty of slander and ordered to pay Rush $5000. This was on the same day that former President Washington had ordered doctors to bleed him from what appeared to be a strep infection and died two days later.

President John Adams appointed Rush to the Secretary of the Mint.

Again, from the book:

"William Loughton Smith, the American ambassador to Portugal, wrote: "I have been much amused in reading over some files of American papers by the last vessel. I see the old dispute revived with great violence [about] bleeding for fever and ague, and that Dr. Rush is charged with bleeding many hundreds to death....I was not very much surprized at this charge, but I confess I was surprized to see him appointed treasurer of the mint. I hope he won't bleed that to death also.""
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8 Comments On This Entry

Wow - can't say it would have ever occurred to me to read a book about blood, Annie - but that's rather interesting stuff there! The story of Benjamin Rush - I'd never heard any of that before. Actually rather sad. And amazing when one realizes how far our knowledge/understanding of disease and medical treatment has come in the past 200+ years. And, sadness notwithstanding, I must admit, I love the comment by the guy at the end regarding the mint. :D
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Jax, on Jan 8 2007, 12:02 AM, said:

Wow - can't say it would have ever occurred to me to read a book about blood, Annie - but that's rather interesting stuff there! The story of Benjamin Rush - I'd never heard any of that before. Actually rather sad. And amazing when one realizes how far our knowledge/understanding of disease and medical treatment has come in the past 200+ years. And, sadness notwithstanding, I must admit, I love the comment by the guy at the end regarding the mint. :D

It was a bit sad wasn't it? This guy sent his wife and kids off so he could fight Yellow Fever with what he believed was the right thing to do. I think I left out that he ended up contracting it for a period of time.

I do love the last line as well!!!! :D This is my light reading----I love reading books on the history of diseases and how they were treated. Antique medical books I collect and just devour reading. :D Probably how you read and understand law. :D
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Very interesting!

It reminds me of when I went to Ellis Island and found myself in the exhibit of things that people brought over with them and the frightening looking medical instruments! We have certainly come a long way in medical treatment and understanding.
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Wow! That is interesting Annie! I never knew about Rush at all, but I have read about blood letting before (I actually think that there are some people who still practice it today!) I remember reading an article once about old treatments for "hysteria" -- which of course they always linked back to the uterus. One treatment was a turpentine douche! My gosh, I can't tell you how grateful I am for evidene based medicine! :D
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Siren, on Jan 8 2007, 08:51 AM, said:

Very interesting!

It reminds me of when I went to Ellis Island and found myself in the exhibit of things that people brought over with them and the frightening looking medical instruments! We have certainly come a long way in medical treatment and understanding.

Oh--they are frightening to see, aren't they?? I collect old medical books and some of the stuff just blows my mind with they way they thought. I might have to find some more old medical trivia. I got to a part in the book about a guy who had some mental disorder where he was violent. They transfused him with lamb's blood in the hopes of calming him down.

Riothouse, on Jan 8 2007, 05:51 PM, said:

Wow! That is interesting Annie! I never knew about Rush at all, but I have read about blood letting before (I actually think that there are some people who still practice it today!) I remember reading an article once about old treatments for "hysteria" -- which of course they always linked back to the uterus. One treatment was a turpentine douche! My gosh, I can't tell you how grateful I am for evidene based medicine! :giggle:

Ouch. :thud: Here they gave the people mercury to induce vomitting---can you imagine????
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Dublin5, on Jan 8 2007, 04:42 PM, said:

I got to a part in the book about a guy who had some mental disorder where he was violent. They transfused him with lamb's blood in the hopes of calming him down.


Dead is calm. :thud:

25 pounds of blood? You think someone would have drained a condemned criminal and measured the quantity of blood. :giggle:
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Stitch Jones, on Jan 10 2007, 12:09 AM, said:

Dublin5, on Jan 8 2007, 04:42 PM, said:

I got to a part in the book about a guy who had some mental disorder where he was violent. They transfused him with lamb's blood in the hopes of calming him down.


Dead is calm. :thud:

25 pounds of blood? You think someone would have drained a condemned criminal and measured the quantity of blood. :giggle:

They would bleed dogs to the point of death and then transfuse them and be in wonder how the dogs came back to life.

They thought the blood circulated by pores. And the ancient Greeks thought in "humors." Phlem, choler, bile, blood.
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And the lamb was viewed as being calm (they left out the stupid part) so a lamb's blood would calm a person in fits.


Though I know what you mean by dead is calm. :giggle:
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http://img.photobuck.../Dsc00535-1.jpgI know when the Spirit of God is there, animals are the first ones to mellow out."If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers, 1897-1935"The poor dog, in life the firmest friend,The first to welcome, foremost to defend,Whose honest heart is still the master's own,Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,Unhonour'd falls, unnoticed all his worth,Denied in heaven the soul he held on earth,While man, vain insect hopes to be forgiven,And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven."Lord Byron Inscription on the monument of his Newfoundland dog, 1808" He is your friend, your partner,your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He willbe yours, faithful and true, to the last beatof his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy ofsuch devotion." Unknown

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