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April 2001

History of Surgery in Rhode Island

Author Affiliations

From Lifespan (Drs Hopkins, Bowen, and Francis), Department of Surgery, Academic Medical Center, The Miriam Hospital (Dr Hopkins), and the Rhode Island Hospital (Drs Bowen and Francis), Providence.

Arch Surg. 2001;136(4):461-466. doi:10.1001/archsurg.136.4.461

In 1925, founder John Keefe1 and in 1974, the late Tom Perry2 delivered presidential addresses to the New England Surgical Society (NESS) recounting the essential happenings of surgery in Rhode Island from its founding to the mid-19th century. We will not repeat the details of those excellent essays, but events from that era must be reviewed to permit an understanding of the course of events since.

Rhode Island was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, who was of too independent a mentality for the Colony of Massachusetts. Quoting from a 19th-century encyclopedia,

The general court banished him from the colony . . . because he had called into question the authority of the magistrates in respect to the right of the civil power to impose faith and worship. . . . Opinions which would not allow the magistrate to intermeddle, even to restrain a church from heresy or apostasy, were not to be endured.3(p639)