THE AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION; ITS PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

N. SENN
1897 Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)  
the dawn of a great era in the history of medicine. Only a few years before its organization was effected anesthesia, which has robbed the operating room of its greatest terrors, came into general use and at once opened up new fields of usefulness for the surgeon. The new science of bacteriology, upon which is based our modern views regarding the etiology and prevention of disease, has been founded and firmly established since that time. The principles which govern the present treatment of
more » ... t treatment of wounds conceived by the immortal Lister and developed to the existing state of perfection by a host of his enthusiastic followers, have revolutionized the practice of surgery during the last quarter of a century. Normal and pathologic microscopic anatomy are recent acquisitions to our knowledge of living tissues in health and disease. Aseptic midwifery is the direct descendent of aseptic surgery and has secured for the lying-in-woman the same protection against puerperal complications, as the employment of aseptic precautions will prevent largely the occurrence of suppuration, sepsis and pyemia in the treatment of the injured and patients requiring operative treatment. Anesthesia and asepsis have created visceral surgery. Our knowledge of chemistry and physiology has been vastly increased during the last fifty years by thousands of earnest and devoted students in possession of improved instruments and apparatuses for accurate investigations. During the same time great strides have been made in the practice of medicine and the preparation and methods of administration of drugs. In the light of many of these recent advancements we have at least learned that disease is influenced for the better by aiding and assisting, rather than by combatting and opposing nature's resources. Translumination of the body by the wonderful Roentgen ray is the last and most important addition to our diagnostic resources in medicine and surgery. In these stirring events which have startled the medical world in such rapid succession during the last half of this century many members of our Association, dead and living, have taken a prominent and often leading part. In lookinĝ about for an appropriate subject for my address at tbis meeting I have deemed it expedient to utilize my time and this unusual opportunity in discussing as briefly as possible " The American Medical Association, its Past, Present and Future." This is a day of rejoicing to the medical profession of the United States. We celebrate today the semicentennial, the golden jubilee of the American Medical Association. You have come here from all parts of the Union to do honor to this festive occasion. It is appropriate that you should have selected Philadelphia as the place of meeting at this time; it was here that the organization of our Association was completed half a century ago. Philadelphia is near and dear to every American citizen, as it is the birthplace of the greatest and most prosperous nation in the world. It is here that on July 4, 1776, the most precious document in the possession of the American people-the Declaration of Independence-was signed, read and approved by the representatives of a people who craved for freedom, liberty and independence. It was here that the sweet music of the liberty bell was first heard, the reverberations of which reached from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the Great Lakes to the Grulf of Mexico, and which has continued and will continue to echo and reecho over our vast and free country for all time to come. It is a source of congratulation to every and all honest and progressive practitioners of medicine that that document, which was the means of planting a free government upon the virgin American soil and creating a new nation, was signed and heroically defended by America's greatest physician-Benjamin Rush. The blood struggle for independence by a united patriotic people and its great success culminated in the foundation of the great Republic of the United States which in time gave the medical men an opportunity to establish American medicine upon a free American soil. It required a long time after the permanency of our government was assured for our professional ancestors to appreciate this opportunity and to take the necessary steps to secure adequate facilities for our young men to obtain a satisfactory medical education in this country and to create a medical literature of their own. Foreign text-books were used and European universities continued to be the Mecca for American students who sought a higher medical education. The country was new, its resources limited, its inhabitants represented different customs and nationalities, and the number of qualified practitioners limited. It is, therefore, not surprising that the organization of the profession, the establishment of institutions of learning and the foundation of an American medical literature met with many difficulties which it required years to correct and remove. Philadelphia has a special charm for every practitioner of medicine who has the interest and welfare of his profession at heart, as it has been, and still remains, the center of medical education and medical literature in this country, besides being the birthplace of the American Medical Association. The members of the medical profession of this city, with Benjamin Rush at its head as a noble and inspiring example, have always been loyal to the
doi:10.1001/jama.1897.02440230001001 fatcat:4sytdt4c7fet7mgeaxpep5d33m