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John Morgan: Continental Doctor

Genevieve Miller, PhD
JAMA. 1965;193(5):408. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03090050084049.
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The name of John Morgan is a familiar one in the history of American medical education and of colonial Philadelphia where he was responsible for creating the first American medical school in 1765. After a brilliant beginning his life ended in melancholy bitterness, with the promises of his youth unfulfilled. It is this tragic story that Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., PhD, narrates with scholarly objectivity and scrupulous documentation.

From painstakingly researched facts emerges the portrait of a man whose excessive ambition and stubborn determination elevated him to early greatness but also caused him to squander his productive years in exhausting efforts to preserve his reputation and to discredit a rival. As director-general of the General Hospital of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1777, Morgan was victimized by refractory regimental surgeons and a Congress unable to designate clear lines of authority in the Medical Department. After his dismissal he wasted


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