The Rise of Homeopathy I
As mentioned in the post The Opposition to Homeopathy III, which is part of the series on The History of Homeopathy, not all was doom and gloom for homeopathy. In a 1890 Harpers Magazine article Mark Twain mentioned the great value of homeopathy: “The introduction of homeopathy forced the old school doctor to stir around and learn something of a rational nature about his business. (1) Good old Mark also proclaimed “that you may honestly feel grateful that the homeopath survived attempts of the allopathists to destroy it.”
Homeopathy, despite tremendous persecution from the orthodox medical field, pulled through and even flourished in the 1800s and early 1900s. By then there were 22 homeopathic medical schools, more than 100 homeopathic hospitals, over 60 orphan asylums and old people’s homes and more than 1,000 homeopathic pharmacies in the United States. (2) It would be easy to just think of these numbers as an accurate reflection of Americana, but they merely offer a glimpse on the momentous impact homeopathy had on American life.
Homeopathy’s supporters were amongst some of the most respected members of society including William James, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Daniel Webster, William Seward, Horace Greeley, and Louisa May Alcott. William Cullen Bryant, a famous journalist of the time was president of the New York Homeopathic Society. (3) John D. Rockefeller referred to homeopathy as “a progressive and aggressive step in medicine.” Maybe being under homeopathic care during the latter years of his life allowed for him to reach the ripe age of 99 years. (4)
Homeopathy was also very popular among respected classes in Europe. Homeopathy could count as his supporters Britain’s Royal Family (since the 1830)(5), Charles Dickens, W.B. Yeats, William Thackeray, Benjamin Disraeli, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, and pope Pius X. (6)
Because abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison and Zabina Eastman were strong proponents of homeopathy, and because of the fact that many homeopaths were politically progressive, homeopathy was identified with the cause of female and black emancipation. (7) Could that be the reason homeopathy’s popularity rose dramatically in the North (Statistics show that the number of homeopaths in New York State doubled every five years from 1829 to 1869)(8) and did impede in the South? (9)
More on the popularity of homeopathy in The Rise of Homeopathy II.
1. Twain M. (1890). A Majestic Literary Fossil. Harpers Magazine. p. 444
2. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. p. 304, 460
3. King W. (1905) History of Homeopathy. Vol. 2 Lewis Publishing Company; 1st edition. p.14
4. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. p. 463
5. 3. Cook T. (1981) Samuel Hahnemann: The Founder of Homeopathic Medicine. Wellingborough, England: Thorsons. p. 142-144
6. Ibid. P.148
7. 3. King W. (1905) History of Homeopathy. Vol. 1 Lewis Publishing Company; 1st edition. p.346
8. New England Medical Gazette (1869) p.63
9. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. p. 297