(NaturalNews) There is a wide body of evidence showing that Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) maintained a special interest in and appreciation for homeopathic medicine. It is therefore not surprising that many of Lincoln's advisors were users of and advocates for homeopathy.
Before Lincoln was elected president, he was retained as a lawyer to prepare a state legislative proposal to charter a homeopathic medical college in Chicago in 1854. Chicago was the home of the American Medical Association, which had been founded in 1847 in part to stop the growth of homeopathy, and therefore, Lincoln's job was no simple effort.
Today, the Pearson Museum at Southern Illinois University has an exhibit of a 19th century doctor's office and drug store; included in this exhibit is a homeopathic medicine kit from the Diller Drug Store of Springfield, Illinois. The exhibit notes that Abraham Lincoln was a frequent customer of the drug store and a regular user of homeopathic medicines. (Karst, 1988, 11)
Lincoln's cabinet members
Of special significance, Lincoln surrounded himself with advocates for homeopathy, among them the postmaster general, the secretary of the treasury and his most trusted advisor and Secretary of State, William Seward. Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury, may have had his life saved by homeopathy after being treated for cholera in the summer of 1849 when a cholera epidemic was rampant, (Niven, 1995). Montgomery Blair, Lincoln's Postmaster General, was the head of the National Homeopathic Hospital in Washington, DC. (Medical Visitor, 1900)
Ultimately, what befell William Seward is a classic story to illustrate conventional medicine's attitude toward and actions against unconventional medical treatments and the physicians who provide them. It is first important to realize that the American Medical Association in the 19th century was so threatened by homeopathic medicine that the AMA created and enforced an ethics code that barred AMA members from consulting with homeopathic doctors or homeopathic patients.
On the famed night that Lincoln was assassinated, Seward was stabbed in a multi-person assassination plot against the Union. The assassin gained entrance to Seward's home and to his personal bedroom by claiming to have a delivery of medicines from his homeopathic doctor, Tullio S. Verdi, MD, (Other Days, 1887). Thanks to the medical care provided by U.S. Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes, MD, Seward survived. However, Dr. Barnes was denounced and reprimanded by the AMA for providing medical care to a homeopathic patient, even when that patient was the Secretary of State. (Haller, 2005, 192)
Sage advice from Mark Twain
In a Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Social Transformation of American Medicine, Dr. Paul Starr wrote about homeopathy in the 19th century, asserting, "Because homeopathy was simultaneously philosophical and experimental, it seemed to many people to be more rather than less scientific than orthodox medicine."
And it seems appropriate to end this article on Lincoln's association with homeopathy by citing U.S. writer and friend to many presidents, Mark Twain. In an article for Harper's Weekly, he warned others of the dangers of conventional medicine ("allopathy") and thanked the advocates of homeopathy:
"When you reflect that your own father had to take such medicines as the above, and that you would be taking them today yourself but for the introduction of homeopathy, which forced the old-school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business; you may honestly feel grateful that homeopathy survived the attempts of the allopathists [conventional physicians] to destroy it, even though you may never employ any physician but an allopathist while you live." (Twain, 1890)
Haller, J. S. The History of American Homeopathy: The Academic Years, 1820-1935. New York: Pharmaceutical Products, 2005.
Karst, F. Homeopathy in Illinois, Caduceus (a museum quarterly for the health sciences), Summer 1988, pp. 1-33.
Medical Visitor, volume 16, 1900, p. 434. Other Days, Homeopathic Recorder, 1887, p. 6.
Niven, John. Salmon P. Chase: A Biography in Paradox. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995.p. 126.
Twain, M. A Majestic Literary Fossil, Harper's Magazine, February 1890, 80(477):439-444.