Thursday, January 19, 2023

Happy 224th Birthday!

January 21 marks the 224th anniversary of the founding of the Medical & Chirurgical Faculty of Maryland. For the next 10 months, we are going to be planning and preparing to celebrate our 225th anniversary in 2024. I wonder if any of the 101 founders ever could have imagined that the organization they worked so hard to create, would still be going strong in 2024.

Eugene Fontleroy Cordell, who wrote the 1899 Medical Annals of Maryland gave some thought to the first meeting, imagined the founders coming together for the first time.

Here's what he had to say:

Considering the circumstances, it is altogether likely that the first meeting was held in one or another of the legislative halls at the capitol. It may have been in the historic Senate Chamber, where Congress had sat so recently and President Washington had resigned his commission and read his ever-memorable farewell address.

There we may fancy the founders preparing to sit in council, grave and reverend seigniors, deliberate in act and speech, still clad in the antique style, wig, cue, frilled shirt, high-necked coat with large brass buttons, knee breeches, stockings, shoe buckles and not least, gold-headed canes.

The first to enter, we will suppose, is the Baltimore delegation, arrived by the morning coach. George Buchanan, full of enterprise and action, precedes, followed by Henry Stevenson, prince of inoculators; Lyle Goodwin, the surgeon; the courtly and handsome Ashton Alexander, one of the youngest incorporators; and Arthur Pue and Daniel Moores, both graduates of Edinburgh.

Close behind them are the delegates from Baltimore County: Thomas Cradock and Philip Trapnall, both great in the counculs of the Church; John Cromwell, described as “a man of find constitution and exemplary habits,” and the others in the delegation.

Next come the Annapolitans, headed by the striking figure of Upton Scott, venerable with his seventy-seven years, precise, practical and business-like.

A delegation from the western part of the State has just arrived on horseback: the revered Philip Thomas of Frederick, a leader in his community; John Tyler, from the same place, whose fame in couching the cataract extended far and wide; Richard Pindell, of Revolutionary fame and later the physician of Henry Clay in Kentucky; Zadok Magruder, Jr., from the Quaker settlement in Montgomery; James Anderson, from the same county, whose practice is said to have covered 100 square miles; Zechariah Clagett of Pleasant Valley; George Lynn, of Cumberland, and other who joined on the way.

From the northeast came John Archer, of Harford, teacher, patriot, statesman, stern in look, the patriarch of American graduates, and Elijah Davis, who had been a prisoner on a Jersey prison ship during the Revolution.

From the Potomac region came Charles Worthington, of Georgetown, who was known in his day as the “Court Physician,” in his coach; Charles A. Beatty, the owner of the land on which Washington was built; and William Beanes, Jr., whose capture and imprisonment led to the writing of the Star Spangled Banner by his friend and rescuer [and nephew of Upton Scott], Francis Scott Key.

From the south came Gustavus Brown, of Port Tobacco, who was consultant with Drs. Craik and Dick in the last illness of George Washington; Daniel Jenifer, of the same place, and John Parnham, of Charles County, both surgeons in the Revolution.

An early arrival must have been Charles Alexander Warfield, of Anne Arundel, the impetuous leader of the patriots in the Peggy Stewart affair and the first to propose a separation from the mother country.

The Eastern Shore doubtless furnished its full quota, coming by sailboat across the Bay. From Easton came Tristram Thomas, distinguished by his extreme height, the tenuity of his frame and his gentle manner; the brusque Ennals Martin, and Perry Eccleston Noel, the Edinburgh graduate.

From Kent County came James Moat Anderson, a small spare figure with a limp, and dressed in the sober garb of the Methodists; Morgan Brown, Jr., who is described by his contemporaries as a man of remarkable judgement and acumen; and Edward Worrell, the medical teacher of that section.

From Queen Anne County came James Davidson, who hails from the Highlands of Scotland, and Robert Goldsborough of “Four-Square.”

Having alighted from coach and stage, having disembarked from vessels which lay moored in the Severn River, and having dismounted from their horses, we can imagine them assembling for the business before them. A short time is doubtless spent in greetings and congratulations upon the success of their long efforts to obtain legislation and the prospect of usefulness which now unfolds before them.

Cordell doesn't mention all 101 founders, but his descriptions of many of them give you a good idea of who they were and what they looked like.

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