The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Rush, Benjamin

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The American Cyclopædia
Rush, Benjamin
Edition of 1879. See also Benjamin Rush and Richard Rush on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

RUSH. I. Benjamin, an American physician, born in Byberry township, near Philadelphia, Dec. 24, 1745, died in Philadelphia, April 19, 1813. He graduated at Princeton college in 1760, studied medicine, chiefly at Edinburgh, and was elected professor of chemistry in the medical college of Philadelphia. In the provincial conference of Pennsylvania he was chairman of the committee which reported that it had become expedient for congress to declare independence. When congress had decided on taking that step, five members from Pennsylvania withdrew, whereupon Rush and four others were elected to fill their places; and he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The same year (1776) he married Julia, daughter of Richard Stockton of New Jersey, also one of the signers. In April, 1777, he was made surgeon general of the army for the middle department, and in July physician general. He wrote four letters to the people of Pennsylvania on their constitution of 1776, which he censured, and which was soon superseded by a new form of government. In February, 1778, he resigned his post as physician general, on account of the wrongs done to the soldiers in regard to the hospital stores. In the latter part of his life he was a professor in the Philadelphia medical college. In 1793, during the ravages of the yellow fever, he rendered extraordinary services. His bold and original practice, however, made him enemies, and a paper edited by William Cobbett, called “Peter Porcupine's Gazette,” was so violent in its attacks that it was prosecuted, and a jury rendered a verdict of $5,000 damages. From 1799 till his death he was treasurer of the United States mint. He published “Medical Inquiries and Observations” (5 vols. 8vo, 1789-'98; 3d ed., 4 vols., 1809); “Essays, Literary, Moral, and Philosophical” (1798; 2d ed., 1806); “Sixteen Introductory Lectures,” &c. (1811); “Diseases of the Mind” (1812; 5th ed., 1835); and editions of Sydenham's and other medical works. His “Medical Tracts,” containing a variety of essays upon health, temperance, exercise, &c., appeared in a separate volume at an early period of his life. In 1791 he wrote an able defence of the use of the Bible as a school book. He was one of the founders of Dickinson college, and was president of the society for the abolition of slavery, and for some time of the Philadelphia medical society, and was vice president of the Philadelphia Bible society, and of the American philosophical society. II. Richard, an American statesman, son of the preceding, born in Philadelphia, Aug. 29, 1780, died there, July 30, 1859. He graduated at Princeton college in 1797, studied law, and was appointed attorney general of Pennsylvania in 1811, and soon after comptroller of the United States treasury. From 1814 to 1817 he was attorney general of the United States. In 1817 he was temporary secretary of state, and was then appointed minister to England, where he remained till 1825, negotiating several important treaties, especially that of 1818 with Lord Castlereagh respecting the fisheries, the N. W. boundary line, conflicting claims beyond the Rocky mountains, and the slaves of American citizens carried off in British ships contrary to the treaty of Ghent. In 1825 President Adams made him secretary of the treasury. In 1828 he was a candidate for the vice presidency on the same ticket with President Adams and received the same number of electoral votes. In 1829 he negotiated in Holland a loan for the corporations of Washington, Georgetown, and Alexandria. In 1836 President Jackson appointed him commissioner to obtain the Smithsonian legacy (see Smithson, James), then in the English court of chancery; and in August, 1838, he returned with the entire amount. In 1847 President Polk appointed him minister to France, and in 1848 he was the first of the foreign ministers at the French court to recognize the new republic, in advance of instructions from his government. At the close of President Polk's term he asked to be recalled, and spent the rest of his life in retirement. In 1815 he compiled an edition of the laws of the United States; in 1833 he published “Memoranda of a Residence at the Court of St. James,” and in 1845 a second volume of the same work, “comprising Incidents, Official and Personal, from 1819 to 1825; among the former, Negotiations on the Oregon Territory” (3d ed., under the title “The Court of London from 1819 to 1825,” with notes by the author's nephew, London and Philadelphia, 1873). In 1857 he published “Washington in Domestic Life.” His sons published in 1860 a volume of his “Occasional Productions, Political, Diplomatic, and Miscellaneous, including a Glance at the Court and Government of Louis Philippe and the French Revolution of 1848.”