RUSH, Benjamin

1746–1813

Biography

RUSH, Benjamin, a Delegate from Pennsylvania; born in Byberry Township, near Philadelphia, Pa., January 4, 1746; educated under private tutors and at a private school in Nottingham, Md.; was graduated from Princeton College in 1760; studied medicine in Philadelphia, Edinburgh, London, and Paris, and commenced practice in Philadelphia in August 1769; held several professorships in the Philadelphia Medical College; Member of the Continental Congress in 1776 and 1777; a signer of the Declaration of Independence; entered the Revolutionary Army as surgeon general of the Middle Department in April 1777; made physician general in July 1777; resigned in February 1778; resumed the practice of medicine; delegate to the Pennsylvania ratification convention, 1787; founder of the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia; president of the Philadelphia Medical Society; vice president and one of the founders of the Philadelphia Bible Society; one of the founders of Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pa.; assisted in the establishment of the Philadelphia dispensary in 1786; treasurer of the United States Mint at Philadelphia from 1799 until his death in that city April 19, 1813; interment in Christ Church Burying Ground.

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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External Research Collections

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library

Springfield, IL
Papers: In the John Adams Letters, 1779-1807, 3 items. Other authors include Benjamin Rush.

Duke University
Medical Center Library

Durham, NC
Papers: 1766-1845, 252 items. The papers of Benjamin Rush include personal and professional correspondence; a diary; a casebook; documents, e.g. deeds and receipts; and miscellaneous manuscript notes. Letters from Benjamin Rush to his wife, Julia, during the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia form a substantial part of the correspondence. A more detailed list of material, including a complete list of correspondents is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Edward Cutbush Papers, 1794-1811, 12 items. Other authors include Benjamin Rush.

College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: N.d., 245 leaves. Lectures upon the mind by Benjamin Rush.

College of William and Mary
Manuscripts and Rare Books Department, Swem Library

Williamsburg, VA
Papers: In the Carey Wilkinson Papers, 1799-1802, 10 items. Other authors include Benjamin Rush. An inventory is available in the repository.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Research Library

Williamsburg, VA
Papers: In the Blair, Banister, Braxton, Horner and Whiting Papers, 1765-1890, 108 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.

Haverford College Libraries

Haverford, PA
Papers: In the Female Association of Philadelphia for the Relief of Women and Children in Reduced Circumstances Records, 1800-1972, approximately 300 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.
Papers: In the Dorothy Merriman Schall Papers, 1686-1897, 19 document boxes. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.

Library of Congress
Manuscript Division

Washington, DC
Papers: 1776-1812, 100 items. The papers of Benjamin Rush contain chiefly correspondence (1776 Nov. 1-1812 Nov. 14) received by him, together with one volume (1803-1804) of his medical lectures. Correspondents include John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, William Maclay, James Madison, James Monroe, and Thomas Paine.
Papers: In the William Bingham Papers, 1776-1801, 27 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Marian S. Carson Collection of Manuscripts, 1656-1995, 26.4 linear feet. Individuals represented include Benjamin Rush. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Pierre Eugène Du Simitière Papers, 1774-1784, 5 volumes. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Thomas Jefferson Papers, ca. 1606-1902, 90 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush. The papers are also accessible on microfilm. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the James McHenry Papers, 1775-1862, 4.6 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush. The papers are also accessible on microfilm. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the William Maclay Papers, 1789-1791, 0.5 linear foot. Subjects include Benjamin Rush. The papers are also accessible on microfilm.
Papers: In the The James Madison Papers, 1723-1836, 12,000 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the William Shippen Papers, 1752-1780, 4 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Henley Smith Collection, 1686-1903, 530 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Andrew and J. W. Stevenson Papers, 1756-1882, 12,000 items. Subjects include Benjamin Rush. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the Stone Family Papers, 1730-1863, 137 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the John Sullivan Papers, 1775-1781, 99 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush. The papers are also accessible on microfilm. A finding aid is available in the library.
Papers: In the George Washington Papers, 1741-1799, 215.2 linear feet. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Anthony Wayne Papers, 1779-1796, 14 items. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Henry A. Willard II Collection, 1743-1888, 0.8 linear foot. Persons represented include Benjamin Rush.

Litchfield Historical Society

Litchfield, CT
Papers: In the Deming, Perkins, and Quincy families papers, 1762-1950, 30 linear feet. Persons represented include Benjamin Rush.
Papers: In the Sheldon family papers, 1768-1897, 0.42 linear foot. Persons represented include Benjamin Rush.

The New Jersey Historical Society

Newark, NJ
Papers: In the John Witherspoon Papers, ca. 1766-1841, 34 items. Other authors include Benjamin Rush. A finding aid is available in the repository.

The New-York Historical Society

New York, NY
Papers: 1780, 3 volumes. Lecture notebooks kept by Dr. Apollos King of Suffield, Connecticut, while a medical student, during lectures delivered by Benjamin Rush; probably in Philadelphia, ca. 1780 or later. Individual chapters address a wide range of physiological and psychological disorders. Volume 2 includes notes on a shorthand system and a shorthand alphabet. Volumes include indices.
Papers: In the Granville Sharp Copies of Letters Received, 1763-1773, 1 volume. Correspondents include Benjamin Rush.

Pennsylvania State University
Historical Collections and Labor Archives, University Libraries

University Park, PA
Papers: In the Autographs Collection, 1682-1972, 0.45 cubic foot. Persons represented include Benjamin Rush. A finding aid is available in the repository.

Presbyterian Historical Society

Philadelphia, PA
Papers: 1767 and 1783, 0.02 cubic foot. The collection consists of two letters (and their transcriptions), one from Benjamin Rush to John Witherspoon regarding his presidency of the College of New Jersey. The other letter is from Benjamin Rush to Dr. John King regarding the founding of a college in Carlisle, Pa. (Dickinson College.).

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Nashville, TN
Papers: In the Martha De Bow Casey Collection, 1791-1933, 85 items. Other authors include Benjamin Rush. An unpublished finding aid is available in the repository.

University of Virginia
The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library

Charlottesville, VA
Papers: In the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, 1776 and 1813, 2 items. A letter from Benjamin Rush to Charles Lee written on July 23, 1776. In the letter, Benjamin Rush congratulates Charles Lee on his "late Victory" [Sullivan's Island in the Charleston campaign] which reverses depression over the loss of Canada and leads the people "to think our cause is not desperate, & that [we] shall yet triumph over our enemies." He continues, stating "The declaration of independence has produced a new era in this part of America." The letter also includes
Papers: In the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, 1813-1814, 2 items. The papers include a letter from John Adams to Benjamin Rush written on Februrary 3, 1813. In the letter, John Adams comments on the selection of William Jones as Secretary of the Navy and notes that many Federal offices are held by men from Pennsylvania. He observes that he has become "recommender general of Midshipmen and Pursers and Ensigns," comments on public slanders of anyone in office, and discusses the writings and reputation of Benjamin Waterhouse. In conclusion he notes the death of George Clymer and mentions some of the surviving signers of the Declaration of Independence including Thomas Jefferson whom he describes as "tough as a lignum vitae Knot" and who writes a letter without "one sympton of declay or decline ..."
Papers: In the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Collection, ca. 1778-1863, 2 items. A letter from Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin Rush written in 1778. In the letter, Benjamin Franklin, in France, recommends a surgeon named Tessier "who proposes to go to America & offer his Services in our Armies." Benjamin Franklin notes that he has not promised employment to Tessier who is coming at his own expense and hopes he will be received with the "accustomed Curtisies to Strangers of Merit." An engraving of Benjamin Franklin accompanies the commission.
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Bibliography / Further Reading

Adams, John. The Spur of Fame: Dialogues of John Adams and Benjamin Rush, 1805-1813. Edited by John A. Schutz and Douglass Adair. 1966. Reprint, Indianapolis, Ind.: Liberty Fund, [2000].

Barton, David. Benjamin Rush: Signer of the Declaration of Independence. Aledo, Tex.: Wall Builder Press, 1999.

Binger, Carl Alfred Lanning. Revolutionary Doctor: Benjamin Rush, 1746-1813. New York: Norton, [1966].

Blinderman, Abraham. Three Early Champions of Education: Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, and Noah Webster. Bloomington, Ind.: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1976.

Brodsky, Alyn. Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician. New York: Truman Talley Books/St. Martin's Press, 2004.

D'Elia, Donald J. Benjamin Rush, Philosopher of the American Revolution. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1974.

Douty, Esther Morris. Patriot Doctor, the Story of Benjamin Rush. New York: Messner, [1959].

Goodman, Nathan G. Benjamin Rush, Physician and Citizen, 1746-1813. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934.

Hawke, David F. Benjamin Rush, Revolutionary Gadfly. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.

Johnson, John Graver. A Criticism of Mr. Wm. B. Reed's Aspersions on the Character of Dr. Benjamin Rush, With an Incidental Consideration of General Joseph Reed's Character. By a member of the Philadelphia Bar. Philadelphia: Collins, Printer, 1867.

Kennedy, Jennifer Tiercel. "Signing history: The memoirs of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Rush, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson." Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1999.

Mitchell, Silas Weir. Historical Notes of Dr. Benjamin Rush, 1777. Philadelphia: N.p., 1903.

Neilson, Winthrop. Verdict for the Doctor; The Case of Benjamin Rush. New York: Hastings House, [1958].

Pepper, William. Benjamin Rush. Chicago: Printed at the Office of the Association, 1890.

Pratt, Herbert T., ed. Doctor Benjamin Rush's Inquiry into the Health and Medical Practices of Indians. Oration delivered February 4, 1774, before the American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia. Selections. Wilmington: Archaeological Society of Delaware, 1974.

Riedman, Sarah Regal and Clarence C. Green. Benjamin Rush: Physician, Patriot, Founding Father. London, New York: Abelard-Schuman, [1964].

Rush, Benjamin. An Account of the Manners of the German Inhabitants of Pennsylvania (1789). 1910. Reprint, With a new introduction by William T. Parsons. Collegeville: Institute on Pennsylvania Dutch Studies, 1974.

------. An Account of the State of the body and Mind in Old Age. Edinburgh: N.p., 1807.

------. An Address on the Slavery of the Negroes in America. Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in America. New York: Arno Press, 1969.

------. An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in America, Upon Slave-keeping. Philadelphia: Printed by J. Dunlap, 1773.

------. The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush; His Travels Through Life Together with his Commonplace Book for 1789-1813. 1948. Reprint, Edited with introduction and notes by George W. Corner. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, [1970].

------. Benjamin Rush: A Discourse Delivered Before the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, Feb. 6th, 1787 on the Objects of Their Institution: A Facsimile of the 1787 Address with an introduction by Thomas A. Horrocks. Philadelphia, Pa.: Historical Collections of the Library, College of Physicians of Philadelphia, 1987.

------. Benjamin Rush's Lectures on the Mind. Edited, annotated, and introduced by Eric T. Carlson, Jeffrey L. Wollock, and Patricia S. Noel. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1981.

------. Considerations on the Injustice and Impolicy of Punishing Murder by Death: Extracted from the American Museum: With Additions. Philadelphia: From the Press of Mathew Carey, May 4, 1792.

------. Considerations Upon the Present Test-law of Pennsylvania: Addressed to the Legislature and Freemen of the State. Philadelphia: Printed by Hall and Sellers, [1784].

------. An Enquiry into the Effects of Spiritous Liquors Upon the Human Body, and Their Influence Upon the Happiness of Society. 1787. Reprint, Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas Bradford, [1790].

------. Essays: Literary, Moral, and Philosophical. 1806. Reprint, edited with an introductory essay by Michael Meranze, Schenactady, N.Y.: Union College Press, 1988.

------. Experiments and Observations on the Mineral Waters of Philadelphia, Abington, and Bristol, in the Province of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Printed by James Humphreys, junior, 1773.

------. An Inquiry into the Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon the Human Body and Mind: With an Account of the Means of Preventing, and of the Remedies for Cuing Them. 1790. Reprint, New York: C. Davis, 1811.

------. An Inquiry into the Various Sources of the Usual Forms of Summer & Autumnal Disease in the United States. Philadelphia: J. Conrad & Co.; Baltimore: M. & J. Conrad & Co.; Printed by T. & G. Palmer, 1805.

------. Letters. Edited by L. H. Butterfield. [Princeton]: Published for the American Philosophical Society by Princeton University Press, 1951.

------. Medical Inquiries and Observations. 1794. Reprint, New York: Arno Press, 1972.

------. Medical Inquiries and Observations on the Diseases of the Mind. 1812. Reprint, Special edition, Birmingham, Ala.: Classics of Medicine Library, 1979.

------. My Dearest Julia: The Loveletters of Dr. Benjamin Rush to Julia Stockton. New York: N. Watson Academic Publications, 1979.

------. The New Method of Inoculating for the Small-pox: Delivered in a Lecture in the University of Pennsylvania, on the 20th of February 1781. The third edition. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Parry Hall, 1792.

------. Observations Upon the Origin of the Malignant Bilious, or Yellow Fever in Philadelphia, and Upon the Means of Preventing It: Addressed to the Citizens of Philadelphia. Philadelphia: Printed by Budd and Bartram, for Thomas Dobson, at the stone house, No. 41, south Second Street, 1799.

------. A Plan for the Punishment of Crime; Two Essays. Edited by Negley K. Teeters. Philadlephia: Pennsylvania Prison Society, [1954].

------. A Report of an Action for a Libel, Brought by Dr. Benjamin Rush, Against William Cobbett, In the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, December Term, 1799, for Certain Defamatory Publications in a News-paper, Entitled "Porcupine's Gazette," of which the Said William Cobbett was Editor. Philadelphia: Printed by W. W. Woodward, no. 17, Chesnut Street, 1800.

------. A Second Address to the Citizens of Philadelphia, Containing Additional Proofs of the Domestic Origin of the Malignant Bilious, or Yellow Fever: To Which are Added, Observations, Intended to Shew [sic] That a Belief in that Opinion, is Calculated to Lessen the Mortality of the Disease, and to Prevent its Recurrence. Philadelphia: Printed by Budd and Bartram for Thomas Dobson, 1799.

------. Sixteen Introductory Lectures. With an introduction by Lawrence A. May. 1811. Reprint, Oceanside, N.Y.: Dabor Science Publications, 1977.

------. Two Essays on the Mind: An Enquiry into the Influence of Physical Causes Upon the Moral Faculty, and On the influence of Physical Causes in Promoting an Increase of the Strength and Activity of the Intellectual Faculties of Man. Introduction by Eric T. Carlson. New York: Brunner/Mazel, 1972.

------. A Vindication of the Address, to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements, on the Slavery of the Negroes in America, In Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled, "Slavery not forbidden by Scripture; or, A defence of the West-India planters from the aspersions thrown out against them by the author of the Address." By a Pennsylvanian. Philadelphia: J. Dunlap, 1773.

Switzer, Charles Irvin. "The Political, Philosophical, and Religious Thought of Dr. Benjamin Rush." Ph.D. diss., Michigan State University, 1966.

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