His Professional Service
Benjamin Rush was born December 24, 1745, in Byberry, northeast of Philadelphia. His father died when he was six years old. His mother sent him to an academy in Nottingham, Maryland, under the tutelage of Dr. Finley, who later became president of Princeton College in New Jersey. In 1759, Rush entered Princeton College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree.
After college, Rush went to medical school in Edinburgh and earned his doctorate of medicine in 1768. In 1769, Rush joined the College of Philadelphia and organized the first medical school in America.
In addition to being a professor and medical doctor, Rush was a voluminous writer. He wrote six volumes on medical subjects. Rush wrote medical articles detailing the effects of alcohol and tobacco abuse on the body and mind. The King of Prussia, the Queen of Etruria, and the Emperor of Russia honored Rush for his contribution to the successful treatment of yellow fever. He also wrote one volume of essays on various subjects, especially on politics.
His Patriotic Service
As a result of his advocacy for independence, Pennsylvania appointed him to the Continental Congress in 1776, where he voted for independence and signed the Declaration of Independence. Rush also served as the Surgeon General of the Continental Army.
Also, in 1787, Rush was a member of the Pennsylvania convention that adopted the federal Constitution. Rush stated that the Constitution was “a masterpiece of human wisdom.”
President Adams appointed Rush as the Treasurer of the United States mint. Rush served in this capacity for fourteen years.
Benjamin Rush was a devout Presbyterian. He led his family in daily devotions by reading a chapter of the Bible and praying with the family. He also was a founder of the Philadelphia Bible Society. Rush was a staunch abolitionist.
Benjamin Rush died on April 19, 1813, at the age of sixty-eight.