In theory, a purely Representative Government ensures to the people the enjoyment of the utmost liberty compatible with good order in the community. The law reigns supreme. The law is the expressed will of the people, and a people cannot be conceived as willing against themselves any unnecessary and injurious deprivation of rights and privileges. But laws imply an Executive. And the Executive may pervert the law or transcend it, to the injury of a portion of the people. Lord Eldon said that “no Act of Parliament could be framed through which he could not drive a coach and six,” and no law can be passed, the spirit of which may not be violated while yet its letter is observed. In such cases the appeal is to the Law Makers, to the People in Legislature. And that the people in Legislature may comprehend the case, it must first be pleaded before the people at large. The Executive must be summoned before the bar of public opinion. In justifying his injustice by the letter of the law he has appealed to the people. To the people he must go.
The right of the people of this nation to avail themselves of whatever form of medical treatment they may elect, has never been circumscribed by any law. Whoever will, may employ at his option a homoeopathic or an allopathic physician and the law fully protects him in doing so.
Yet we present today this strange spectacle. Of the twenty millions that inhabit our loyal States, one million are deprived of the right to employ a homoeopathic physician though they should prefer to do so. Abraham Lincoln, through his subordinates in the Executive Department, says, to one individual in every twenty of our population, “if sick or wounded, you shall be done to death with Calomel, Salts and Quinine, even though you be satisfied that Bryonia or Arnica would cure you, and though a homoeopathic physician stand ready to take charge of you if you wish it — You shall take alternate doses of Tannin and Morphine, and of a drastic purgative until you perish of your Chickahominy diarrhea, although you entreat to be allowed to take the few globules of Croton tiglium which would cure you and which a Homoeopathist stands ready to come into the hospital and give you, if you desire it and if the authorities will permit it.”
What gives the underlings of Abraham Lincoln this power over the free-will of citizens? Why, for the present, these citizens chance to be soldiers who are giving their lives to avert from their country the curses of anarchy and slavery — and the medical bureau has the power to say who shall treat the sick and wounded soldiers — and the bureau assumes to say that no Homoeopathist shall be allowed to treat them, however much the patients may desire it. It justifies this assumption by appealing to the letter of the law which gives it the power to prescribe the qualifications of army and navy surgeons. This appeal to the law is an appeal to the people. To the people then we also appeal, pleading for those who, suffering in behalf of the liberties of the whole people, are restrained of their liberty to avail themselves of that mode of treatment which they would prefer.
The Allopathists taking advantage of the letter of the law to discredit and put down Homoeopathy, have again in this instance, as often before, appealed to the popular tribunal. They must not blame us if we follow them thither and invoke the judgment of the people on a controversy which might have been kept within the limits of the scientific arena, had our antagonists had only the interests of the truth at heart and not those of a sect.
We shall specify the particulars in which the Medical Department of the Government has abused its delegated powers to the detriment of those in our army and navy who prefer the homoeopathic treatment, and the acts by which the allopathic organizations throughout the country have aided and abetted this injustice. But before entering on these details we have a word to say about the rights of homoeopathic physicians to positions in the corps of army and hospital surgeons.
We hold that in civil life, every man who, on examination before a scientific body authorized to grant diplomas, has shown himself to be possessed of attainments and qualifications, such as are required by the law in physicians and surgeons, has a full right to receive his diploma and to render professional services to whomsoever may ask them, whatever may be his peculiar views on any branch of medical science. These views cannot be made a fair ground of exclusion from the profession. If they should subsequently lead him to the commission of malpractice in any form, he would then be amenable to punishment like any malfactor. Any other rule than this would take from medical practice all possibility of progress in improvement, and from the practitioner all freedom to exercise whatever peculiar endowments he may possess.
The duly qualified physician or surgeon has the same right to compete for positions in the army and navy medical corps. Whatever his peculiar views may be on any open question in any branch of medical or surgical science, he has a right to a position in these corps, if he shows himself possessed of the qualifications required by law. We claim then for the duly accredited homoeopathic physician, all the immunities and privileges which are secured by law to physicians and surgeons in civil life or in the Government service. Farther than this we are not disposed to go. We do not, in civil life, claim that a Homoeopathist, or that a physician of any school, has a right to demand patronage; we simply affirm that if any Persons desire to avail themselves of his services he should be free to render them without obstacles interposed by any organization under color of any law. And so with regard to the Government service which at present requires so large an amount of professional labor, we do not, for a moment, as some have done, claim in behalf of Homoeopathy any position for the sake of her own aggrandizement or of adding to the experience of her practitioners. God forbid that we should seek access to our sick and wounded countrymen for the mere sake of adding to our own dexterity or to our consideration before the public! The ghastly line of hospital tents behind the field of Antietam more terrible to the soldier than all the horrors of the field itself, bears everlasting witness to the ineffable cruelty of those who hurried thither to “get their hand in” at capital operations. “My wounds,” said the dying Colonel to his ignorant surgeon, “are your protection!”
But we do assert in behalf of well-qualified physicians and surgeons who are Homoeopathists, the right to respond, without hindrance on the part of the authorities, to the demands of the soldiers for homoeopathic treatment. Not in behalf of Homoeopathy, not in behalf of her practitioners, but in the name of the suffering and the dying soldiers, we claim for them that additional chance for life, which in their judgment, as well as in ours, homoeopathic treatment would afford them.
At least one-fourth of the men of our army have homoeopathic treatment at home. They would have it in camp and in hospital if they could get it. It would not always be practicable even were the authorities disposed to afford every facility. To such a hardship, our brave men would submit, as they have to countless others. But in many instances it would be perfectly easy to afford homoeopathic treatment to those soldiers in camp or in hospital who might desire it Physicians who have every credential of fitness are ready and have offered their services. In view of the undoubted right of the soldiers to the mode of treatment which, as citizens, they would elect, no technical obstacles, no difficulties of detail are worthy a moment's notice. In every great city in which there are several Government hospitals, one might be accorded to the Homoeopathists. Petitions in great numbers from the soldiers and their friends, that this might be done, have been presented to the Government — but in vain. “We appeal to the people for justice to the soldier! But these general, negative instances, are not all that we have to protest against.
Homoeopathic colleges and societies hold from the State, charters of the same validity as those on which allopathic colleges and hospitals are based. The Homoeopathic State Medical Society exists under a act of incorporation by the Legislature. In all respects the legal standing of the homoeopathic practitioner is as good and perfect as that of the Allopathist. The law provides that vacancies in the army or navy medical corps shall be filled by duly accredited physicians who shall pass an examination in certain specified branches of knowledge. All physicians of good legal standing, between certain ages, have a right to present themselves as candidates for examination, whether Homoeopathists or not. Yet the army medical board have during the past year, explicitly refused to receive and examine as candidates, physicians who were known to be Homoeopathists in their views of medical practice, or who avowed themselves to be such, — refused expressly on the ground that they were Homoeopathists. We know not that this usurpation of authority would be ventured upon in any other country. In France and Austria it certainly is not done, for in the armies of both of these countries there are many homoeopathic surgeons. “We are sure it will not be tolerated here, when the people shall have come to understand the merits of the case.
Efforts were made early last year to induce the Government to place some of the large army hospitals under the care of the Homoeopathists. The Executive was willing enough, but he allowed himself to be persuaded by the Medical Bureau that the practical inconvenience would be insuperable! As if a staff could not as well be appointed from Homoeopaths as from Allopaths; as if requisitions and purchases could not as well be made of homoeopathic as of allopathic medicines! And so these efforts came to nought, and thousands died of diarrhea, fever or erysipelas who might have been rescued by homoeopathic treatment; and the brave suffering soldiers petitioned and remonstrated in vain.
Within the last year a hospital was organized by the Homoeopathists of Philadelphia, a medical staff appointed and, when all things were ready, the hospital was tendered with its physicians to the Government for the reception of the sick soldiers sent to Philadelphia, who were to be cared for without expense to the Government. It was peremptorily declined, and the board were notified that if soldiers should be received into the hospital the managers would be regarded and dealt with as “persons guilty of harboring deserters from the service.”
And this was done at a time when the number of sick and wounded soldiers was increasing, when the Government was engaged in erecting and procuring new hospitals, and at the same time that it accepted in the same city a hospital tendered by other citizens but which, with other disadvantages, required a considerable outlay on the part of the Government to fit the building (a private property), for the purposes of a hospital, and which also left the expenses to be borne by the Government. DUNHAM.
|The American Homoeopathic Review Vol. 03 No. 08, 1863, pages 338-342
|The Appeal to The People.
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