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Benjamin Rush Portal: Early Education

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Early Education Timeline

  • 1755: Rush attends West Nottingham Academy in Maryland, run by his uncle Rev. Samuel Finley, his first mentor.
  • 1759: Rush attends the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) as a fifteen-year-old junior.
  • September 24, 1760 Rush graduates from college.
  • 1761: Rush becomes Dr. John Redman's apprentice.
  • 1762: Yellow Fever breaks out.
  • 1762: Rush attends the first U.S. anatomy lectures by Dr. William Shippen, Jr. 
  • 1765: Dr. John Morgan establishes America's first medical school at the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), with Shippen as its first professor.
  • Fall 1765: Rush attends lectures by Morgan.


Early Medicine

In 1761, Rush becomes the apprentice of Dr. John Redman. During his time with Redman, Rush learns how to...

  • compound treatments.
  • perform bloodletting, cupping, and blistering.
  • deliver a baby.
  • how to keep the accounting books for Redman's huge practice.

A year later Rush attends Dr. William Shippen, Jr.'s anatomy courses at the Pennsylvania State House. Rush pays 5 pistoles (over $5,000) to attend his classes. 

In the spring of 1765, Dr. John Morgan returned to Philadelphia from Edinburgh. But before returning to America, Morgan reached out to the trustees of the College of Philadelphia, proposing to create America's first medical school (now Penn's Perelman School of Medicine). His first proposal was that professors shouldn't have to both teach and maintain a full traditional practice. His second proposal was to hire Shippen as a professor so he can continue his anatomy courses. Shippen had a different idea: he thought that both he and Morgan should establish the first medical hospital together. Shippen felt offended that he would teach at Morgan's school, not the school they would establish together. This was the beginning of their feud.

Meanwhile, Rush attends Morgan's materia medica class in the fall of 1765. He didn't know he would be stuck between Morgan and Shippen, but their feud helped Rush decide to study at the University of Edinburgh where both Morgan and Shippen received their degrees. 


Dr. William Shippen, Jr.

Dr. William Shippen, Jr. (Princetoniana Museum)

Dr. John Morgan

Dr. John Morgan (National Library of Medicine)