Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 worked as a lawyer in his early life, and he lobbied and prepared material for a special legislative charter for a homeopathic medical school in Chicago in 1854 (Allen D. Spiegel and Florence Kavaler, The Role of Abraham Lincoln in Securing a Charter for a Homeopathic Medical College, JOURNAL OF COMMUNITY HEALTH, Volume 27, Number 5, 357-380. Abstract: In 1854, Abraham Lincoln was retained to prepare a state legislative proposal to charter a homeopathic medical college in Chicago. This was a complex task in view of the deep-seated animosity between allopathic or orthodox medical practitioners and irregular healers. Homeopathy was regarded as a cult by the nascent American Medical Association. In addition, the poor reputation of medical education in the United States in general, further complicated the project. Lincoln and influential individuals in Illinois lobbied legislators and succeeded in securing the charter. Subsequently, the Hahnemann Homeopathic Medical College accepted its first class in 1860 and with its successors remained in existence for almost sixty-five years).
In 1862 Lincoln signed a bill allocating some civil war military hospitals over to homeopaths because of their unparalleled success in treating cholera, yellow fever, diptheria and influenza compared to allopathic medicine (John S. Haller, The History of American Homeopathy: the academic years, 1820-1935. (Routledge, 2005). Page 187. See also Anon, Harper’s Weekly, Column 4, Humours of the Day, (8th February 1862). Page 83).
Interestingly, while Lincoln was campaigning for homeopathy, the American Medical Association was campaigning against them, not on theological grounds, but because they were getting all the business! “We never fought the homeopath on matters of principle, we fought him because he came into the community and got the business.”
Mary Ann Bickerdyke was a trained homeopath and she became the hospital administrator for the Union during the civil war. Laura Matilda Towne, also a trained homeopath joined the war effort to treat the freed slaves. In 1862 Lincoln was still receiving requests to provide homeopathic treatment for soldiers – all this at a time when the debate between allopathy and homeopathy continued to rage.
However, Lincoln had good reason to thank homeopaths. William Cullen Bryant was President of the New York Homeopathic Society (and editor of the New York Evening Post) and he was a leading advocate for abolition. From 1856 on, the New York Evening Post (founded by Alexander Hamilton) was a Republican paper, supporting the arming of abolitionist settlers in Kansas, deriding the Dred Scott decision, and celebrating John Brown as a martyr.
In 1860, Bryant introduced Abraham Lincoln before the audience at Cooper Union in New York. Later, Bryant and the Evening Post influenced Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln had received many such petitions from homeopaths and the sons of homeopaths, and from homeopathic advocates, for example Abbie Holmes Christensen, an activist in the suffrage and civil rights movement.
“But besides this there would be another immense advantage obtained by such a measure, viz; the certainty of an early & powerful antagonism to be called up in the midst of the Southern people against their leaders…
When the planters would find that the Richmond Government alone stands between them & the trade of the world & prevents them to exchange their produce at the present high prices against Gold & silver (which has become certainly a most desirable commodity in Jeff Davis’s dominions) there can be no doubt but what it would create among a very large number an intense feeling of dissatisfaction, & might even sow the seeds of a rebellion in rebeldom powerful enough to throw the whole Richmond Cabinet overboard….
It would be treating the mortal disease from which the South is now suffering, upon homeopathic principles & I have no doubt it might prove successful.”
Lincon and his colleagues used homeopathic analogies freely, showing a level of familiarity and comprehensive understanding of the concepts behind homeopathy, as in the Dred Scott debate in 1857 where he rails against the decision which ruled that people of African descent, whether or not they were slaves, could never be citizens of the United States, and that Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories, and also in one of his speeches for the Republican Nomination in 1860.
Lincoln’s interest in homeopathy was reflected in the cartoons of the time, for example one listed as ‘Lincoln takes a homeopathic case of remedies for the Constitution”. The remedies include US bullets and US powder’.
Like most influential thinkers in America at the time, Lincoln and his friends read and absorbed Emanuel Swedenborg, and homeopathy was a vehicle for this philosophy. Lincoln was interested in everything and even consulted mediums on National Policy, a practice that continues today.
Lincoln’s General George Brinton McClellan used homeopathic medicine and received homeopathic treatment for a possible bout of malaria and typhoid. Though George Brinton McClellan‘s choice of homeopathy was cause for political censure, Lincoln ignored this attack on his general and indeed, George Brinton McClellan was soon back in the war, his health restored.
His secretary William Stoddard was very much influenced by newspaper editor and homeopath John Walker Scroggs, who he described as ‘one in a million’, an antislavery campaigner who allowed Stoddard the become part owner and coeditor of the Central Illinois Gazette.
1860 saw the first Republican administration in Washington, D.C. and its first homeopathic nomination. Dr. Tullio Suzzara Verdi , an 1856 graduate of The Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania , was appointed to the Bureau of Health. He was the personal physician to Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State, William Henry Seward, who also consulted homeopath Joseph K Barnes.
William Henry Seward was wounded during the assassination of President Lincoln and when his homeopathic physician Tullio Suzzara Verdi conferred with General Surgeon Joseph K Barnes about William Henry Seward‘s terrible injuries, the American Medical Association censured General Surgeon Joseph K Barnes.
Tullio Suzzara Verdi, his usual homeopathic physician was the first on the scene moments after the attack. Tullio Suzzara Verdi described the scene to homeopath William Todd Helmuth in his letter of 21.4.1865, and he also details his treatment of Frederick William Seward and Augustus Seward, and to the soldier detailed to protect the Seward home, and also one other wounded man that night, possibly the male nurse.
Tullio Suzzara Verdi also reported that General Surgeon Joseph K Barnes and Drs. Norris and Wilson also assisted at the scene without ‘descent into petty professional pique or ill conceived pride… in reference to associating with a medical gentleman of a different school of therapeutics‘.
General Surgeon Joseph K Barnes was afterwards censured by the American Medical Association for attending to Seward after this assasination attempt, and for working alongside a homeopath.
Jonathan Young Scammon was a “strong Union man” and longtime friend in Illinois of Abraham Lincoln’s. Starting out there as a lawyer, Jonathan had founded the first railroad west of Lake Michigan, established Chicago’s first bank and laid the groundwork for its public school system, and helped start the Chicago American newspaper.
As the first President of the Chicago Astronomical Society, he built the Dearborn Observatory – which had the largest refracting telescope in the world – and he was also among the founders of the Chicago Academy of Science.
In 1865, Jonathan Young Scammon‘s son, Charles T. Scammon, would form a law partnership with the President’s son, Robert T. Lincoln.
On April 14, 1865, at approximately 10:20 p.m., John Wilkes Booth, a prominent American actor, snuck up behind President Abraham Lincoln as he watched a play at Ford’s Theater, and shot him in the back of the head at point-blank range. The President was carried across the street to a private home where he died early the following morning.
Booth, pursued by Union soldiers for twelve days through southern Maryland and Virginia, died of a gunshot wound on April 26 after refusing to surrender to Federal troops.
The murder of President Lincoln was part of a larger conspiracy that included a simultaneous attack on Secretary of State William Henry Seward and the possible targeting of Vice President Andrew Johnson.