[New York: ca.1818].
Autograph manuscript, 20 pp. pen and ink on paper (hunting horn watermark), with manuscript deletions and corrections. 8vo (10 x 8-1/4 inches). Sewn self-wrappers. Moderate foxing and wear. In a custom green half morocco slipcase and chemise. Item #308231
Original manuscript commencement speech delivered to graduates of Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons by the influential early American physician, Samuel Bard (1742-1821), founder of the King’s College (Colombia) Medical School, the New York Hospital, and longtime president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Bard was raised in New York City, received his medical degree in Edinburgh, and went into practice with his father, also a physician, in 1765. “Interested in improving the education of American physicians since his student days at Edinburgh and impressed by what fellow student John Morgan had achieved in Philadelphia (founding the first medical school in America at what is now the University of Pennsylvania), Bard and several other physicians founded in 1767 New York's first medical school — the country's second — at King's College” (ANB).
In 1769 Bard delivered the school’s first commencement address, published that year as “A Discourse Upon the Duties of a Physician, With Some Sentiments on the Usefulness and Necessity of Publick Hospital.” The speech so impressed the city’s leaders that a thousand pounds was pledged to form a new hospital, and a charter from King George III in 1771 created the New York Hospital.
Bard’s practice suffered some during the Revolution because of his early Loyalist sympathies and he lost his position at King’s College, which closed the medical school during the war. He soon regained his prominent status and became the leading physician in New York City. “Bard was beloved by his patients and highly esteemed by his colleagues as a practitioner. According to one of his memorialists, Henry William Ducachet, it "was unfashionable to be sick without being visited by Dr. Bard" (ANB). After the war, when the capitol of the new nation was located in New York City, Bard served as private doctor to George Washington, who credited Bard with saving his life after successfully removing a carbuncle from his thigh.
In 1785 Bard was appointed trustee and dean of Columbia College, which had reopened its medical school. In 1814 the medical school merged with the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Bard was appointed its first president, a position he held until his death.
Bard’s published works include his 1769 King’s College commencement address, a pioneering work on diphtheria (An Enquiry into the Nature, Cause and Cure, of the Angina Suffocativa, or, Sore Throat Distemper, 1771) and the first American textbook on obstetrics (A Compendium of the Theory and Practice of Midwifery, 1807), which remained the standard work in the field for American doctors for decades.
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