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Moments in Surgical History
July 2000

American Surgical Association

Arch Surg. 2000;135(7):872. doi:10.1001/archsurg.135.7.872

FROM A HISTORICAL perspective, the importance of the American Surgical Association and its founding in 1880, was that it represented the first attempt to bring together on a national level, admittedly in a small number, men of great professional stature whose reputations and deeds marked them as surgeons. To assure that its intentions were well publicized, the organization made certain that a record of its annual meeting was published in the form of bound transactions that could be easily disseminated. Since separation between surgical specialties did not yet exist in the United States, the only criterion for membership was simply that a physician have a "name" as a surgeon; not an orthopedic surgeon, not a urologic surgeon, not a gynecologic surgeon, but simply, a "surgeon." Not surprisingly, the formation of the nation's first surgical organization was adamantly opposed by the American Medical Association (founded in 1847) on the grounds that the new society would detract from its Section on Surgery. When Samuel Gross (1805-1884) welcomed the members to their second meeting in 1882, he commented:

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