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Franklin Approves!

This Day In Founding Fathers History – 11 February 2013

On this day in 1753, The Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, the first hospital in the U.S., began accepting its first patients. The hospital was founded by Dr. Thomas Bond and Benjamin Franklin. The idea was originally Bond’s, as he had studied medicine both in the colonies and in Europe. He wanted “to care for the sick-poor and insane who were wandering the streets of Philadelphia.” When Bond asked his fellow Philadelphians for support, many inquired as to Franklin’s position on a hospital. Bond and Franklin were good friends, so Bond approached Franklin and gained his full support. Franklin organized a petition and presented it to the Pennsylvania Assembly in January 1751 and also undertook fundraising efforts. Lt. Governor James Hamilton signed the bill on 11 May 1751, with the hospital’s first patients being accepted 11 February 1753. Franklin stated of the hospital, “I do not remember any of my political manoeuvres, the success of which gave me at the time more pleasure…” The Pennsylvania Hospital was not only the first hospital in the U.S. but also the first to treat psychological and mental disorders as curable, first apothecary, first medical resident, first medical library and first surgical amphitheater. 1

In 1768 on this day, Samuel Adams penned a letter entitled “Massachusetts Circular Letter of 1768.” The letter was sent by the Massachusetts House to that of the other colonies. In the letter, Adams challenged the constitutionality of the Townshend Revenue Act and other duties and taxes imposed on the colonies. “…what a man has honestly acquired is absolutely his own, which he may freely give, but cannot be taken from him without his consent…imposing duties on the people of this province, with the sole and express purpose of raising a revenue, are infringements of their natural and constitutional rights.” 2

1 “History of Pennsylvania Hospital,” uphs.upenn.edu/paharc/features/creation.html; “Historic Preservation,” First Hospital Foundation, firsthospitalfdn.org/preservation.php
2 “Massachusetts Circular Letter – February 11, 1768,” Revolutionary War and Beyond, revolutionary-war-and-beyond.com/Massachusetts-circular-letter-february-11-1768.html