Text: Dana Ullman
There is a wide body of evidence that Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) maintained a special interest in and appreciation for homeopathic medicine. It is therefore not surprising that many of Lincoln’s advisors
were users of and advocates for homeopathy.
Before Lincoln was elected president, in 1854 he was retained as a lawyer to prepare a state legislative proposal to charter a homeopathic medical college in Chicago. Chicago was the home of the American Medical Association, which had been founded in 1847 in part to stop the growth of homeopathy, and therefore, Lincoln’s job was no simple effort.
Yet many of Chicago’s most prominent citizens and politicians participated on the board of trustees of the proposed Hahnemann Medical College, including Chicago’s mayor, two congressmen, an Illinois state representative, a Chicago city councilman, the co-founder of Northwestern University, the founder of Chicago Union Railroad, and several medical doctors who were homeopaths. Despite significant opposition, Lincoln was successful in obtaining a charter for the homeopathic college.
Today, the Pearson Museum at Southern Illinois University has an exhibit of a 19th-century doctor’s office and drugstore; included in this exhibit is a homeopathic medicine kit from the Diller Drug Store of Springfield, Ill. The exhibit notes that Abraham Lincoln was a frequent customer of the drug store and a regular user of homeopathic medicines.
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