The Opposition of Homeopathy II
We continue our mini series on The History of Homeopathy with the growing popularity of homeopathy in the United States shortly after Hans Gram, a Danish homeopath, emigrated here in 1825. The expansion was so rapid that homeopaths decided to establish a national medical society. In 1844 they organized the American Institute of Homeopathy, which became America’s first national medical society. (1) In response to the growth of homeopaths, in 1846 an opposing medical group formed, which then vowed to slow the development of homeopathy. (2) This organization called itself the AMA or American Medical Association.
Members of the AMA had a long-standing animosity toward homeopaths and homeopathy. These feelings ran so strong, that shortly after the formation of the AMA it was decided to eliminate all the local medical societies of physicians who were homeopaths. (3)
Besides keeping homeopaths out of their societies, the AMA wanted to cast down any and all association with homeopaths. In 1855, the AMA put into effect a “consultation clause” in their code of ethics which spelled out that orthodox physicians would lose their membership in the AMA if they even only consulted with a homeopath or any other “unorthodox” practitioner. (4)
This of course meant that if a physician lost membership in the AMA, that in some states he no longer had a license to practice medicine. It often happened that homeopaths where not admitted to the AMA by the locally medical societies which were run by orthodox physicians. Then these physicians would arrange for the arrest of the homeopaths for practicing without a license. (5) Eventually homeopaths set up their own societies and established their own medical boards.
Here are some examples how the ethical code on collaboration with homeopaths were enforced. One Connecticut physician was expelled from his local medical society for consulting with a homeopath-HIS WIFE.(6) A New York physician faced the same consequence for purchasing milk sugar from a homeopathic pharmacy.(7) Joseph K. Barnes, the Surgeon General of the United States, was denounced for aiding in the treatment of Secretary of State William Seward on the night he was stabbed and Lincoln was shot, simply because Seward’s personal physician was a homeopath. (8) And one more bizarre event to conclude today’s post. Dr. Christopher C. Cox was refused admittance into the Medical Society of the District of Columbia because he had served on the D.C. board of health, which had a member who was a homeopath. Dr. D.W. Bliss, a conventional doctor and colleague of Dr. Cox, also was expelled, not because he consulted a homeopath, but because he consulted with Dr. Cox, who was previously expelled. Ironically, the Medical Society judged Bliss and Cox had committed a reprehensible crime, even though it was by treating Schulyer Colfax, the Vice President of the United States under Andrew Johnson. (9)
To point out again, it was not so long ago that the AMA did everything possible to eradicate homeopaths from the practice of medicine, and the effects of these actions are still felt today. Read more in The Opposition of Homeopathy III.
1. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. pp. 124-126
2. Kaufman M. (1971) Homeopathy in America : The Rise and Fall of a Medical Heresy Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p.53
3. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. p. 199
4. Ibid., pp. 206-219
5. Coulter H. (1982) Divided Legacy vol. 3. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. p. 208
6. Starr P. (1982). The Social Transformation of American Medicine. New York, New York: Basic. p.98
9. Kaufman M. (1971) Homeopathy in America : The Rise and Fall of a Medical Heresy Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. p.89