Benjamin Rush
Burial Location Visited DoI Signer Grave #
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania June 18, 2007 7th Visited


The father of American psychiatry is only                                    A close up shot of Rush's gravesite.
one of several noteworthy people buried in
Philadelphia's Christ Church Burial Ground.

*** Interesting Facts ***

Rush frequently and loudly spoke out against the practice of slavery. In 1773, Rush published a pamphlet that not only told of the moral wrongs of slavery, but he told of how it made no sense scientifically either. He explained that the African slaves were not inferior to whites intellectually, and that the only difference between the two races was their skin color. In addition, he proclaimed in his pamphlet that if a slave
were inferior intellectually, that it had been the act of slavery that had corrupted his/her mind. However, many did not take Rush's pamphlet seriously and dismissed his theory on the subject. Despite Doctor Rush's best effort, slavery would continue to be practiced in America for over ninety years.

Benjamin Rush was one of the most knowledgeable doctors of his time. He was very advanced in treating not only physical ailments, but mental ones as well. Many hospitals where the mentally ill were placed were like prisons. Most of the mentally ill patients were locked away from all of humanity, and were sometimes placed in devices that doctors thought would cure insanity. In fact, the techniques did anything but, as they were actually torturing the patients. Doctor Rush was appalled at the conditions of such hospitals, and helped create a separate building where the mentally ill could be treated humanely and properly. Two decades later, Rush published the first textbook about psychiatry in the United States.

* As Meriwether Lewis and William Clark prepared for their legendary expedition, Benjamin Rush provided them with the medical knowledge that was necessary for their survival. He warned them of the numerous diseases they could possibly come upon, and supplied them with several different pills and medicines to use in such encounters. While some of objects he gave them would seem crude by today's standards, they undoubtedly insured the survival of Lewis, Clark, and their men.

* Unlike most people of his time, Doctor Rush realized that alcoholics were not always in control of their actions. He believed that deep down they may have wanted to stop, but their minds wouldn't allow them to do it. In an act of compassion, Rush began to develop ways of treating alcoholics instead of ostracizing them like the rest of society. The method he devised was to get his patients attached to less harmful substances and then to gradually wean them from the bottle.

* In the year before his death, Rush helped to reunite two former friends who had become bitter enemies. Rush suggested to one of the friends that he should write to his opponent, as it would do him good to have a correspondence in his advanced age. The friend heeded Rush's advice, and wrote to his one-time ally. The other man was delighted to receive a letter from his former friend and sent him a reply, renewing a friendship that would last another fourteen years. Who were the two reunited friends? None other than former presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Spouse: Julia Stockton Rush (1776-1813)

ast Words: "Be indulgent to the poor."
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