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July 1976

Highlights of Two Centuries of American Pediatrics, 1776-1976

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Medical Center, and the Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston.

Am J Dis Child. 1976;130(7):762-775. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1976.02120080084009

When the Declaration of Independence was drawn up, our population of about 2 million settlers extended along a narrow coast line from what was then known as Massachusetts (now Maine) to Georgia. The inhabitants had the Atlantic Ocean in front of them and in their rear the unexplored forests, occupied by Indians, that stretched far away toward the Pacific. As independence approached, almost the entire country was sparsely settled. The coastal area, reaching back unevenly into the Appalachian foothills, contained the largest number of people; northern provinces surpassed the South in white inhabitants roughly by 1,247,000 to 727,000, though, if Negro slaves were added, the overall figures were much the same. The occupied areas by 1776 amounted to approximately 200,000 square miles, or more than twice the whole area of Great Britain.

During the colonial period and for some time after the establishment of the Republic, medical students obtained their

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