Samuel Latham Mitchill Publishes the First Medical Journal in America
Samuel Latham Mitchill was an academic who participated in all facets of study. Mitchill was a Physician who published the first Medical Journal in the young nation.
Additionally, Mitchill once attempted to change the name of the United States…
Samuel Latham Mitchill
Samuel Latham Mitchill was one of the most dedicated men to education in the Early Republic.
Born on Long Island, Mitchill went to Scotland where he studied medicine. Upon his return to the United States, Samuel decided that being a Physician wasn’t enough, so he studied law and passed the bar.
Mitchill accepted a job as a Professor at Columbia University where he taught chemistry, natural history and agriculture. About this time, he also received election to the New York State Assembly.
Throughout his life, Mitchill continued to educate himself.
Furthermore, he published an astounding number of papers on a wide variety of subjects. Mitchill’s writings were read and exchanged between all of the other Founders, most notably Thomas Jefferson who enthusiastically corresponded with Samuel regarding many of his studies.
Additionally, Mitchill was one of the founders of the Medical Repository.
The Repository was the first medical journal published in the United States. As such, it was the first collection to represent a truly American understanding of medicine. Every respectable Physician (and many other intellectuals) subscribed to the Repository for the latest in health news.
In 1801, Samuel Mitchill was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democratic-Republican. Two years later he would be sent to the Senate.
During this time, Mitchill took a new job teaching at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He would spend the majority of his career at this school which, ironically, would be absorbed into Columbia after his death.
During the Madison Administration, Mitchill returned to the House of Representatives for another term.
Although Samuel Latham Mitchill should best be remembered as one of the most important medicinal educators of the American Founding, the truth is he might be better known for his plan to change the name of the United States.
Now, every time he mentioned the idea, it seemed to be slightly tongue-in-cheek. However, he mentioned the idea a lot. Heck, he published several papers on the subject (but, as stated before, he published scores of papers).
Mitchill wanted to rename the nation ‘Fredonia.’
Although this was a word of his own making, he claimed to be combining parts of Greek and Latin terms.
Clearly, we do not currently live in ‘Fredonia’ and we do not refer to ourselves as ‘Fredons.’ But Mitchill’s idea did get some traction. When Americans moved into Texas (while it was still a part of Spain), they attempted to create the Fredonia Republic.
On a more personal note, my spouse, Emily, has a degree from the SUNY College at Fredonia. While this may seem irrelevant, it is a nice reminder that the discussions had between Founders (even the jokes) still find their way into our everyday lives today.
Follow this site to read about another Founder tomorrow!
Until then, check out one of these articles on other Founding Physicians:
Want to read a book written by Mitchill about Thomas Jefferson?
‘The American Revolution’s Final Battle’ was written after Jefferson’s passing. It can be read for free here.
Pick up a copy through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same) but be warned, it is very rare and therefore expensive.
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