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The Contagious CityThe Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia$
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Simon Finger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448935

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448935.001.0001

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“A Fine Field for Professional Improvement”

“A Fine Field for Professional Improvement”

Sites and Sources of Medical Authority in the Revolutionary War

(p.86) 6 “A Fine Field for Professional Improvement”
The Contagious City

Simon Finger

Cornell University Press

This chapter details the contributions of Philadelphia's medical community during the War of Independence. Throughout the conflict, disease killed far more Americans than combat; and commanders depended on medical professionals, like physicians and surgeons, as well as informal practitioners, like nurses and laundresses and military disciplinarians who could enforce compliance with hygienic measures. Because Philadelphia was home to the nation's most celebrated hospital and most prominent medical faculty, Pennsylvania would exert an outsize influence on the development of American military medicine. In addition, the war had transformed Philadelphia's medical community by plunging them into hands-on medical practice, endowing them with the prestige associated with revolutionary service, developing their political alliances and acumen, and most importantly, by teaching them to think in terms of populations.

Keywords:   Philadelphia's medical community, War of Independence, American military medicine, hygienic measures, medical professionals, informal medical practitioners, medical authority

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