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The second and third years of the society were also of marked success, and the annual reunions were, like the first very pleasant.
But long before this history of our society was made, our young college became favorably known at home and abroad, as posessing superior facilities for medical education. The founding of our college marked a new era in the history of medicine in our country.
The Board of Commissioners of Charities and Corrections had assumed the government of our public institutions and prisons, and had given the medical supervision of the institutions on Blackwells Island, with the exception of the Lunatic Asylum, and including the new and magnificent Island Hospital, to the Medical Board of Bellevue. The Board' now found itself at the head of the noblest and most extensive hospital establishment in America-one second to but very few in any country-containing in its wards cases of every disease mankind is heir to--counting among its inmates, natives of every quarter of the globe ; for, I have seen in its wards, Lascars and Chinamen, Indian mixed breeds, Spaniards from South America, lying side by side with the natives of every nation in Europe, and of every State in the Union. The students of our college have access to these hospitals, and within their wards the book of nature is open; for disease, a consequence of the infraction of her laws, is no less a part of God's providence than health.
It was soon learned by those aspiring to enter our heavenborn profession, that at our Institution, within a space less than the course of study prescribed by the law of the land, an experience in medicine and surgery could be condensed, that would be more than equivalent to that of the life-long practice of an old-time physician. Having such facilities, and an experienced, intelligent and energetic faculty, students were attracted from all parts of our country; and it was found that
T our college building was too small to meet the requirements of increasing classes, and the commodious building that we now occupy was erected, affording accommodations the most ample, and, as regards adaptation to the convenience of medical teaching, leaving nothing to be desired. This building
will remain a fitting monument to the memory of the wisdom of the Commissioners, and the energy of our Faculty, who inaugurated the system of bedside with that of didactic, instruction in medicine.
It may not, on an occasion like this be improper, and I trust I may be assured of your indulgence when I do it, to refer quite briefly to some of those who were foremost in their efforts to promote the best interest of our College and Society.
Among this number was one, who in the first years of its existence and for some time after, was one of the Commissioners of Public Charities and Corrections, and who, during the whole of his life, was honored with some of the highest and most responsible of our municipal offices. Himself of a thoughtful mind and liberal intelligence, he devoted his best energies and efforts to the establishment and support of this school. There are many now present, who will feel that in saying what I have, I am but doing an act of well deserved homage to the memory of a most worthy and excellent man when here, and in this presence, and with all the sincerity of which my heart is capable, I pronounce the name of SIMEON DRAPER.
I should do violence to my own feelings, and injustice to this audience, if on an occasion like this, I failed to refer to one whose name is recorded upon a tablet in this building, as our first Professor of Anatomy. No public occasion can soon occur which in its reminiscences carries us back to the history of our school, which will not demand an honorable mention of the name of TIMOTHY CHILDS.
Among those for whom we have been called to mourn of late, is Dr. J. KING ROBINSON, from California, who graduated March, 1865, and settled at Salt Lake City. As a student and a physician, his character was blameless, his aims high, his motives pure; as a friend he was kind and genial, generous and constant. Dr. ROBINSON was known to have spoken in terms of disapprobation of the system of Mormonism, and for this reason was cruelly butchered by the Mormons one dark night, while on his way with two of them, in answer to their call, to treat a patient with a fractured limb.
One of our original three, Dr. GEORGE D. STANTON, is now at Stonington, Connecticut, in the successful practice of his profession. Another of them has an inglorious record that I would not refer to, but for our own protection as an organization. He has proved false to his most sacred vows, and a traitor to his Alma Mater, and it has been declared by our order that he is unworthy a fraternal greeting from us, and his name has been forever stricken from the roll of the O. Æ. Society.
It now remains for me to speak of one more of our charter members, whose record bears a striking and pleasing contrast to that of the former. I allude to Dr. CHARLES A. LEALE who, immediately after leaving college, passed his examination as Assistant Surgeon, United States Volunteers, and was appointed executive officer of one of the largest hospitals in Washington; and, on the night of the assassination of President Lincoln, was the first to be admitted to the box, where he had been shot by the foul hand of the assassin; was requested by Mrs. Lincoln to take care of him ; removed the coagulum from the opening in the skull, which, if it had been allowed to remain a few moments longer, would have produced death then and there in the theatre; who had charge of him until the Surgeon-General arrived; who remained with him until his death ; then knelt down around that sorrowful death-bed while a most solemn and impressive prayer was offered to God for the bereaved family, and our afflicted country.
His name will be connected with our history as a nation by several large oil-paintings representing the Death-bed Scene, he being one of the group, caring for him whom the people so much loved.
Dr. Leale remained in his country's service for nearly a year after the close of the war, until the hospitals in Washington had been closed ; then returned to New York with Brevet Commission for faithful services, and completely prostrated in health with typho-malarial fever, contracted while serving on camp duty in Virginia. He made a visit through England and France, and returned to his native city where he settled, and is now in the successful practice of his cherished profession.
One of our ex-presidents is now practicing in the neighboring city of Newark, and of late has been chosen to the responsible and honorable position of Secretary of the Medical Association of that city-a fitting compliment to true professional merit. The energy and zeal that he manifested in behalf of our order, while holding the position of executive officer, is well known to most of our fellows. I allude to Dr. George R. Kent.
There are others among the living and the dead, to whom I would be glad to refer, but I fear that in these extended references, I am trespassing too far and too long upon the golden hours of this golden evening.
This Society partakes of the character of all regular County and State medical organizations in an eminent degree. Its membership is made up of moral, intelligent and energetic students and practitioners of medicine, who are admitted to fellowship after passing a certain form of examination. Our meetings occur every Thursday evening, when a paper upon some medical topic is read and discussed—thus bringing all minds in the body into exercise.
It is designed, as soon as it can be found practicable, to establish other societies like this, in all medical colleges throughout the Union, and thus unite medical students into one common brotherhood, to seek each other's interests, and promote the welfare of our profession; and we hope that this will not only become a national affair, but that it may also be extended to all parts of the globe where medicine is taught.
The object in view is worthy of every exertion that can be put forth to attain it. The debate is to the mind what gymnastics are to the body—an admirable means for promoting the most useful discipline, and securing the completest development.
The habit of speaking in public is of the greatest benefit. Its advantages are by no means confined to the legal profession. Many a physician, who, amidst the responsibilities of active life has a worthy message to deliver, fails in impressing the people with its importance through lack of early training which would have taught him to arrange his ideas in a manner calculated to produce the strongest effect. Another shall steal the hearts of
the people through the beauty of his eloquence and the charm of his manners; while he who possesses at once honesty of purpose in a good cause, and mental powers under complete training, is sure to be a leader and helper in the advancement of the multitudes whom he sways at his will.
The higher the degree of culture, the more evident does it appear that the best rules for expression, whether by voice or pen, is to declare the idea in as few and simple words as possible. “Brevity and discretion are the secrets of strength.”
The wide spread of knowledge in these days, and the rapid progress indicated for the future, make it incumbent upon every physician who would leave the impress of his convictions upon his generation, to employ every means of enlarging his medical
The time has gone by, when physicians can boast of their ignorance; few, and remote from the influences of the age, are those people who are indifferent to the educational needs of their physicians.
A noble field is now lying open for our members, in the great questions which are being called up by the exigences of the times, and in which are contained alike the greatest dangers and the highest advantages of our future as a profession.
The increasing quackery, and venders of cures for all ills that flesh is heir to, are now beginning to be apparent to all minds; the various disturbances in the social system, which already demand the necessity of more enlightened opinion, and wise legislation on many points ; the increased interest given to medicine and surgical matters, by our own recent experience of war-in a word, the fresh and vigorous struggle for freedom, which is agitating the whole world, in every department of thought and action, are really sufficient incentives to the Fellows of the Order to acquire every art and grace that make them fitter exponents of the best public sentiment and more faithful guides to still greater achievements in professional knowledge.
In the present age medicine is aided by other sciences, which now, more than ever, have become its proper auxiliaries. Its students are among the strong men of the world. Its origin, in a country famous in all history; whose institutions, government and military heroism are the admiration of the world; whose poets and orators are themes of ours of the present day-death