Hugh Williamson: Physician, Patriot, and Founding Father

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9781591027706: Hugh Williamson: Physician, Patriot, and Founding Father

Hugh Williamson (1735-1819) was a physician, a member of the educated intelligentsia in colonial America, and a signer of the US Constitution. Although he is one of the lesser-known Founding Fathers, he has been likened to Benjamin Franklin for his breadth of interest spanning science, medicine, government public policy, and Hamiltonian capitalism.
His range of accomplishments was prodigious. Before the Revolutionary War, he was among the planners of the Boston Tea Party. When war broke out, he acted as a spy and a courier for Benjamin Franklin, and later became surgeon general of the North Carolina Revolutionary War Militia. After the war, he served in the North Carolina legislature, the Constitutional Convention, and the first US House of Representatives.

In this first book-length biography of Hugh Williamson, Dr. George Sheldon presents an appealing portrait of an often-overlooked colonial patriot and an important member of the medical establishment in 18th-century America. Sheldon reveals many interesting details about Williamson’s multifaceted life:

He was a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s first graduating class. He was a medical student at the University of Edinburgh’s prestigious medical school and trained in surgery under the renowned John Hunter. He served as a courier in Europe before and during the Revolutionary War, arousing the suspicions of both the British and a contingent of Americans that he was a double agent. After the war Williamson not only served as a physician and politician in North Carolina but as the first secretary of the board of governors of the University of North Carolina, the first nondenominational institution of higher education in America. His expertise ranged from the cause of the 1792-fever outbreak in North Carolina and the correct installation of lightning rods, to work with George Washington on the draining of the Great Dismal Swamp and management of the Bloomingdale estate of his wife’s family, which included much of present-day New York City.

For anyone interested in the important contributors to early American history, this excellent biography of Hugh Williamson will be indispensable reading.

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About the Author:

George F. Sheldon, MD (Chapel Hill, NC) is a professor of surgery and professor of social medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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