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April 25, 1980

My Dearest Julia: The Love Letters of Dr. Benjamin Rush to Julia Stockton

JAMA. 1980;243(16):1667. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300420049030

Julia Stockton was 16 years old when Benjamin Rush fell in love and became determined to marry her. She was, he said, everything he wanted in a wife—intelligent, moral, religious, and wise beyond her years. Rush was 30 years old, a supremely confident man, already a respected physician in Philadelphia and well known for his passionate involvement in the colonies' struggle for independence from England.

This small volume containing several of the love letters that Rush wrote to Julia just before their marriage discloses a different facet to the character of the famous physician and medical educator. The letters were inherited and preserved by their great-great granddaughter, Julia Rush Biddle Henry. Others were destroyed by Julia after his death as not "fit for scarcely any eyes but those to whom they are addressed." They are a mixture of practicality, tender expressions of love, and philosophic, often pompous, views on marriage.