Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health


Product Details

New York University Press
Publish Date
6.37 X 1.02 X 9.25 inches | 1.44 pounds

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About the Author

Jeanne E. Abrams is Professor at the University Libraries and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver, where she is also Director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society, and Curator of the Beck Archives, Special Collections. She is the author of First Ladies of the Republic: Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role and Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health.


"In addition to the broad yet intensely personal health concerns Abrams describes, a key strength ofRevolutionary Medicineis the humanization of the Founders. For denizens of the twenty-first century, the Founders often seem frozen as portraits on currency or entombed forever as inanimate, superhuman monuments and statues. Abrams reminds us that they were flesh-and-blood souls navigating lives in many ways similar to ours."--North Carolina Historical Review
"The strength of the book is Abramss compilation of fascinating, gruesome, and often-tragic details of the lives of these founders, which lends them a corporeal presence that is absent from most histories."--The Journal of American History
"Revolutionary Medicine is a 'must-read' for anyone interested in the birth of America. Upon closing Jeanne E. Abrams's wonderful book about the illnesses and health experiences of the nation's founders, you will never be able to look at Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and their peers the same way again."--Howard Markel, author of An Anatomy of Addiction
"Revolutionary a readable and eye-opening account. We know so much about the Founders, but we rarely pause to think just how difficult 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' can be when you lack a good doctor or science-based care."--The Wall Street Journal
"Contemporary debates over medical research budgets and guaranteeing health insurance for all Americans echo conversations about the necessity of good health to the well-being and prosperity of the citizenry that began at the dawn of our national history. In lucid, accessible prose, historian Jeanne E. Abrams turns to the lives and experiences of George and Martha Washington, John and Abigail Adams, James and Dolly Madison, as well as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin to illuminate conversations about health, public and private, in our republics early years. Abrams's fine volume is a tonic for the frequent neglect of health and disease in so many histories of the early republic."--Alan M. Kraut, author of Goldberger's War: The Life and Work of a Public Health Crusader
"[Revolutionary Medicine] is a solid descriptive account of the medical world of our founding fathers."--Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"Abrams tells the founders stories in a lucid and engaging narrative voice. She renders their pains and pleasures with sensitivity and insight. Its pages will hold few surprises for the specialist, but any reader interested in the revolutionary era or the lives of the American founders will surely learn a great deal from Abramss study."--Simon Finger "Bulletin of the History of Medicine "
"Revolutionary Medicine fills a significant niche. Its subject is not entirely pristine, but Abrams adds much and synthesises masterfully. Her book deserves to be a source of reference and of reading pleasure for years to come."--Paul Kopperman "Social History of Medicine "
"Abrams paints a picture of an era in medical history that is at once humorous, horrific and fascinating."--Intermountain Jewish News
"Using the prism of public health, Jeanne E. Abrams, in her book Revolutionary Medicine, examines how the health of the founding mothers and fathers affected both the individuals concerned and the nation as a whole. Looking at the lives of such luminaries as George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, James and Dolley Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, Abrams examines how illness impacted the lives of these individuals, and how their reaction to theses illnesses mirrored those of the nation as a whole. Most important, in this compelling work, Abrams shows how the personal experiences of these leading citizens encouraged them to advocate for a governmental role in the nation's developing healthcare systemA combination of medical and political history, Revolutionary Medicine provides a keen overview of the state of medical science during the revolutionary period. She writes in an engaging narrative style that makes this work accessible to both academics and lay readers with an interest in American history, or the history of medicine and public health in the 18th century."--History in Review
"As America enters a new era of health care, this timely volume recalls what medicine was like in the days of the Founding Fathers. Everything from Washington's dental woes to Jefferson's troublesome headaches and Dolley Madisons tragic encounter with yellow fever finds its way into this lively and well-researched book. In recounting battles over vaccinations, herbal remedies, the efficacy of blood-letting, and the appropriate role for government intervention in medical issues, Revolutionary Medicine reminds us that debates over health care are nothing new in America. They go back to our founders."--Jonathan D. Sarna, author of When General Grant Expelled the Jews
"One of the "Top Books for Docs" in 2013."--Medscape
"Five case studies demonstrate the new nations state of medical practice, the founders bouts of illness and the republican ideal that individual and national health were connected-the roots, Abrams argues, of repeated attempts to rationalize our national health-care system."--American History
"A University of Denver professor takes an in-depth look at the American medical landscape during the 18th century, a pre-antibiotic time of the epidemics and infectious diseases when Americans were also dealing with little projects like fighting the British for independence and establishing the United States."--The Denver Post
"Written in an engaging style and largely based on the personal letters and papers of the founding families, Abrams sheds new light on how republican ideals were shaped by encounters with disease."--William and Mary Quarterly