Last modified on 4 March 2015, at 02:56

Benjamin Rush

Dr. Benjamin Rush, painted by Charles Willson Peale, c. 1818

Benjamin Rush (January 4, 1746 [O.S. December 24, 1745] – April 19, 1813) was a physician, writer, educator, and humanitarian. Rush was a Founding Father, signer of the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington's personal century physician. He was a confidant of Thomas Jefferson (who is often quoted from letters to Rush), authored one of the first major essays against slavery in the Colonies (in 1773), and is considered by some to be the "Father of American Psychiatry".

SourcedEdit

  • Temperate, sincere, and intelligent inquiry and discussion are only to be dreaded by the advocates of error. The truth need not fear them...
    • Provisions of the Last Will and Testament of Dr. James Rush [1]
  • I need say hardly anything in favor of the Intellects of the Negroes, or of their capacities for virtue and happiness, although these have been supposed by some to be inferior to those of the inhabitants of Europe. The accounts which travelers give of their ingenuity, humanity and strong attachments to their parents, relations, friends and country, show us that they are equal to the Europeans.… All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies, and the West Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove, that they were not intended, by Providence, for it.
    • On Slavekeeping (1773)
  • The American war is over; but this far from being the case with the American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our new forms of government, and to prepare the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens for these forms of government after they are established and brought to perfection.
    • Letter to Price, May 25, 1786
  • Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge. Without learning, men are incapable of knowing their rights.
    • Education Agreeable to a Republican Form of Government [2]
  • I agree with you likewise in your wishes to keep religion and government independant of each Other. Were it possible for St. Paul to rise from his grave at the present juncture, he would say to the Clergy who are now so active in settling the political Affairs of the World. “Cease from your political labors your kingdom is not of this World. Read my Epistles. In no part of them will you perceive me aiming to depose a pagan Emperor, or to place a Christian upon a throne. Christianity disdains to receive Support from human Governments. From this, it derives its preeminence over all the religions that ever have, or ever Shall exist in the World. Human Governments may receive Support from Christianity but it must be only from the love of justice, and peace which it is calculated to produce in the minds of men. By promoting these, and all the Other Christian Virtues by your precepts, and example, you will much sooner overthrow errors of all kind, and establish our pure and holy religion in the World, than by aiming to produce by your preaching, or pamphflets any change in the political state of mankind.”
    • Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 6 October 1800,” Founders Online, National Archives. Source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 32, ed. Barbara B. Oberg. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005, pp. 204–207
  • But passing by all other considerations, and contemplating merely the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this divine book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and all those sober and frugal virtues which constitute the soul of republicanism.
    • A Defence of the Use of the Bible in Schools American Tract Society, 1820. [3]
  • It must afford no small pleasure to a benevolent mind in the midst of a war, which daily makes so much havoc with the human species, to reflect, that the small-pox which once proved equally fatal to thousands, has been checked in its career, and in a great degree subdued by the practice of Inoculation.
    • Rush, Benjamin (1792). The New Method of Inoculating for the Small-Pox. Philadelphia: Parry Hall. 


MisattributedEdit

  • Unless we put medical freedom into the constitution the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship and force people who wish doctors and treatment of their own choice to submit to only what the dictating outfit offers.
    • This quote is often cited with regards to Rush, and can rarely be found attributed to his autobiography, but does not exist in that book [4][5]. The quote contains words and phrasing that seem anachronistic to late 18th century America.
  • … (In) contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that (if we remove the Bible from schools) we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and these sober and frugal virtues which constitute the soul of (our government).
    • Attributed to A Defence of the Use of the Bible in Schools; entries in parenthesis are insertions or modifications of the original quote.

External linksEdit

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