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Who were some of the early black physicians trained by apprenticeship or in schools?

Among the early trained physicians were those who, in the fashion of the day, were educated by apprenticeship or in professional schools. These included Charles Dunbar of New York, who studied under a Dr. Childs, and Daniel Laing Jr. and Isaac Humphrey Snowden, who worked under a Dr. Clark in Boston. There was also a more familiar name, John Sweat Rock (1825–1866), who became an abolitionist, a lawyer, and the first black man admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. A native of Salem, New Jersey, Rock studied medicine under a Dr. Shaw and a Dr. Gibbon. He was denied admission to a medical school in Philadelphia because of his race; then he studied dentistry under a Dr. Hubbard and opened an office in 1850. In 1852 he was admitted to the American Medical College in Philadelphia. After graduating, he practiced dentistry as well as medicine but left his practice because of ill health. Martin Robison Delany (1812–1885), best known as editor and publisher of the newspaper Mystery and as an abolitionist, was born in Charlestown, Virginia; the family later moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Delany joined abolitionist Frederick Douglass as co-editor of the celebrated North Star newspaper. He studied medicine, serving as apprentice to several distinguished physicians in Pittsburgh. He was denied admission to several medical schools because of his race, despite the fact that he had studied under prominent physicians. Delany was finally admitted to the Harvard Medical School in 1850–1851 but apparently failed to return to complete his studies. He returned to Pittsburgh and distinguished himself as a medical practitioner during the 1854 cholera epidemic. He became known also for his book Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered.

Other professionally trained physicians included David J. Peck, graduate in 1847 of Rush Medical College in Chicago; John V. De Grasse of New York and Thomas J. White of Brooklyn, who received medical degrees from Bowdoin in Maine; James J. Gould Bias, who in the early 1850s graduated from the Eclectic Medical College in Philadelphia; Robert B. Leach, graduate of the Homeopathic College in Cleveland in the early 1850s; James McCune Smith, who received his medical degree in 1837 from the University of Glasgow; and Alexander Thomas Augusta (1825–1890), who received a bachelor of medicine degree from Trinity Medical College in Toronto, Canada.


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