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RUSH, Benjamin

(1745–1813), American physician and statesman, born in Byberry (now part of Philadelphia), and educated at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and the University of Edinburgh. In 1769 he was made professor of chemistry at the College of Philadelphia. In 1776 he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and in 1776 and 1777 he was a member of the Continental Congress. Rush later became surgeon general of the Continental army, and after 1783 he was a staff member at the Pennsylvania Hospital, at which he founded the first free dispensary in the U.S. He was treasurer of the U.S. Mint from 1799 until his death.

One of the outstanding physicians of his day, Rush made important contributions to the development of medicine in the U.S. He is known as the father of American psychiatry in recognition of his efforts to establish humane treatment of the mentally ill. His Medical Inquiries and Observations upon Diseases of the Mind (1812) was the first work on psychiatry published in the U.S.

An article from Funk & Wagnalls® New Encyclopedia. © 2006 World Almanac Education Group. A WRC Media Company. All rights reserved. Except as otherwise permitted by written agreement, uses of the work inconsistent with U.S. and applicable foreign copyright and related laws are prohibited.

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