Friday, April 2, 2010

The Scottish Vision


Scottish people have a lot of wonderful traits, including honesty, hard work, learning, and advancing the well-being of the human race. They are often attracted to professions that contribute to the good of society as a whole, not a select portion of the population. They almost have double vision, seeing the immediate needs around them, but also looking far into the future.

Consider this vision in the field of medicine. Medicine helps the entire human race, not just a particular group. Scottish doctors always sought an immediate cure, but they also looked into the future to find prevention. For the most part, early physicians in America, “many of them of Scottish descent themselves” emigrated to Scotland for their training. It is believed that John Moultrie, Jr. (1729-98) was the “first native American to receive a medical degree from Edinburgh University.” It is well documented that Samuel Bard after being educated in Scotland established the medical college at Columbia University.

In the comprehensive book The Mark of the Scot by Duncan Bruce, there is a listing of the accomplishments of Scottish physicians. Here are just a few examples that describe their great contributions to the human race.

1. William Leishman - perfected the typhoid vaccine, 1913
2. Sir Ronald Ross - malaria fever, Nobel Prize winner in 1902
3. Sir Alexander Fleming - discoverer of penicillin 1928 “ ...probably saved more human lives than any other man” 1945 Nobel Prize winner.
4. Samuel Guthrie - discovered chloroform in 1831
5. Dr. Ephraim McDowell - performed “the world’s first “ovariotomy” and he did it on the frontier.
6. Alexander Graham Bell, “was the first to publish the idea of treating deep-seated cancers with radium.”
7. Dr. Robert Guthrie - “...has saved thirty thousand people from mental retardation and will continue to save more.” His test for PKU is given to all newborn infants and costs about three cents.” Dr. Guthrie died in 1995 and had refused all royalties.

Our Society has appealed to many Scottish physicians. In fact, two doctors have been elected President: Dr. John A. McGill and Dr. William Ferguson Dickson. We will not soon forget Dr. Andrew Thomson. Not only for his contribution to the work of our Society but his contribution to the greater Chicago community. Few physicians has touched so many lives as Dr. Thomson. He was recognized as our Distinguished Citizen in 1993. Another physician, Dr. James Allan Campbell, was also a Distinguished Citizen in 1975. Dr. Campbell was the chief architect of the rise of Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center to national prominence. An interesting new book about his life has recently been published .

I have often wondered about the statement made in 1871 which said that the Society wanted to build a “home and hospital.” The Great Fire ended those dreams , but we know they would later built a home for the elderly. We do not know about the vision for a hospital. Did others share that same vision? In 1907, three Scottish American physicians named Alexander A. Whamond, Fred G. Whamond and Joseph Mills founded the Robert Burns Hospital at 3807 W. Washington Blvd. The hospital had a capacity of twenty-five beds.

These men wanted to build a “practical and substantial memorial” to the Scottish Poet. They were opposed to the monument that was build in Garfield Park. (Its interesting to note that they located their hospital just a few blocks west of Garfield park and the statue of Burns.) The Chicago Daily Tribune, November 1, 1913, stated that the hospital was “designed to be free to the poorer patients, and especially to Scotchmen...” The physicians served without pay. The provisional officers were: Dr. J. H. Bates, Dr. Brydon, Robert Hill, Robert Stuart and Robert Matheson. The attorney was Erskine MacMillan. It should also be noted that McNeal Hospital in Berwyn, IL. was founded by Dr. Albert Hall and Dr. MacNeal. These Scottish men also served the residents of the Scottish Home as the house physicians. They served without remuneration..

John Crearer, a life member of the Illinois St. Andrew’s Society, was always a generous donor to our work. However, his Scottish vision was greater. Like Andrew Carnegie, he saw a greater community and a greater need. Crearer gave a fortune to our Society, which was distributed to the poor. However, the bulk of his money was given to the opening of a “free library.” and the erection of a statue of Abraham Lincoln located south of the Art Institute. Thomas C. McMillan wrote about John Crearer and said: “He made the public his heir, and erected a monument which will endure after marble has crumbled to dust, and the fame of mere earthly deeds have faded from the memories of men.” His will provided two and one half million dollars for the establishment of a “free public library” which is now part of the University of Chicago.

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