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April 22, 1974

Dr. Charles Henry Ray: Illinois Medical Truant, Journalist, and Lincoln King-Maker

Author Affiliations

From the School of Medicine, Southern Illinois University, Springfield.

JAMA. 1974;228(4):484-490. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230290032026

... with all my infidelity to medicine as a science, I retain my faith in the specific curative virtues of that article (quinine)... that and sulphur are the only certain remedies in the whole pharmacopoeia.1

SO WROTE Dr. Charles Henry Ray to his wife, Jane, when he prescribed for his daughter Minnie's fever on March 23, 1854, thus expressing his disenchantment with medical practice of the times. Soon thereafter, this Illinois doctor forsook medicine for politics and journalism. He became editor of the Chicago Tribune just in time to boost Abraham Lincoln in his emergence on the national political scene.

Destiny appeared to have attracted many doctors of strong character to Springfield, Ill, during the time that Abraham Lincoln lived there, and several of them had profound influence on Lincoln's health, his philosophy of life, his marriage, his statesmanship, and his political career.2 Few individuals had more significant influence