Benjamin Rush was born December 24, 1745 on a plantation near Philadelphia, in an agricultural community of Byberry, Pennsylvania. He was one of seven children. His father, John Rush, was a yeoman from Oxfordshire that came to Byberry in 1683. He was a gunsmith and a farmer, and would die when Benjamin was about five years old. He would then be raised by his mother, Susanna, who ran a grocery store to support and educate all seven children.
At age eight Benjamin was sent to an academy conducted by his uncle, in Nottingham, Maryland. His uncle Samuel Finley helped him gain a proper education, and even further, Benjamin excelled so highly that five years later he entered the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton, and was admitted to the junior class, graduating in 1760 with an A.B. degree, when he was not quite fifteen years old.
When Benjamin returned to Philadelphia, he at first thought of studying law, but later changed his mind, and decided to study medicine. He became a student under Dr. John Redman from 1761 to 1766, and in addition, he also attended the first lectures of Dr. William Shippen and Dr. John Morgan in the College of Philadelphia.
During these years Benjamin developed an interest in public affairs. He was persuaded by Whitefield?s preaching, and was excited and motivated by the Stamp Act controversy, but the excitement and politics were forgotten in the charm of his professional expedition. Dr. Redman would then advise Benjamin to complete his medical education at the University of Edinburgh, and in 1766 he took Dr. Redman?s advice and embarked on the journey of completing his medical education.
While attending the University of Edinburgh he sat under the masters such as; Monro, Secundus, Joseph Black, and John Gregory. He soon became a friend and a disciple of the great William Cullen. He also found time to participate in the society of fellow students to doubt and debate many subjects, and in part became somewhat of a republican and a philosopher, as well as a physician.
He received his doctor?s degree in June 1768, and immediately traveled to London for further training in St. Thomas?s Hospital. While in London, he was on friendly terms with Benjamin Franklin. Franklin taught him many things, but the big one was the art of being agreeable.
Benjamin then returned back to Philadelphia in 1769, and immediately began to practice medicine. He became professor of chemistry in the College of Philadelphia, the first such chair established in the colonies. While holding it Benjamin published the first American text book on chemistry, A Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on Chemistry.
His profession grew, at first mostly among the poor, but within five years he had a very nice income. He attracted attention by his extraordinary ability and training, and also as the practitioner of a new ?system?. Rather than the teachings of the famous Dr. Hermann Boerhaave, he taught the system of his master, William Cullen. It was such an old school approach that it actually alienated the majority of his colleagues, but because of his great success he began writing again, and in 1772 he anonymously published one of the first American pieces on personal hygiene titled, Sermons to Gentlemen upon Temperance and Exercise.
Meanwhile Benjamin had become a member of the American Philosophical Society and began to develop interests in things other than just professional interests. In 1773 he published An Address to the Inhabitants of the British Settlements in American, upon Slave-keeping, and in 1774 helped to organize the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. Keeping his interest in the debates between the colonies and the ?mother? country, he wrote articles for the local press, and began to associate with quite important patriot leaders such as Thomas Paine, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. When war broke out, he offered his services to the patriot cause. While he was waiting for battle, he got married on January 11, 1776, to Julia Stockton, oldest daughter of Richard Stockton of Princeton. In June that year Benjamin was elected to the Provincial Conference, in which he was a leader in declaring for independence. About a month later he was made a member of the Continental Congress, which made him a signer of the Declaration of Independence.
In April of 1777 he was selected surgeon-general of the armies of the Middle Department. He