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July 5, 1976

Medicine in Charleston at the Time of the Revolution

Author Affiliations

From the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston.

JAMA. 1976;236(1):31-34. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03270010019004

Settled670, Charleston could 1 lay no claim to medical distinction until after the first quarter of the 18th century. The usual difficulties of the early period of settlement had been met with moderate success. Among them were numerous unhappy experiences with serious disease of epidemic nature—smallpox, malaria, yellow fever, respiratory tract infection, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and dysentery—to mention the worst offenders. To combat these, the limited talents of a modest number of physicians of doubtful skill were available, although their effectiveness was restricted by the state of medical knowledge of the time. The appointment in 1712 of a health officer to inspect incoming ships did not succeed in protecting the town from imported disease.

After the first quarter of the century, Charleston acquired a better quality of practitioners, including some few who displayed a scientific curiosity. Thomas Dale of England, graduate of Leyden, translator of medical treatises, later to be