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A History of Medicine in the Early U.S.Navy

In this first detailed history of the development of medical treatment and professionalization in the early U.S. Navy, Harold Langley traces the evolution of medical practice in the Navy from the time Congress authorized the building of the first frigates in 1794, to the establishment of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in the Navy Department in 1842. Langley reveals that the earliest federal efforts to deal with sailors' health care problems were seriously flawed. The early hospital system was poorly funded, sailors' contributions were misappropriated, and the hospitals themselves were often administered in a shameful fashion. At the same time, medical officers commanded little respect from their naval colleagues, who rarely considered medical men to be "real officers".In the first half of the nineteenth century, legal and administrative changes significantly improved the lot of medical officers and of the men under their care. Langley shows how these changes helped to shape health care in the later U.S. Navy. He also offers detailed descriptions of just what the naval doctor did, and examines the influence of health on readiness, morale, promotions, and retention.
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Promotional Information

Winner of the North American Society for Oceanic History's John Lyman Book Award

Table of Contents

Contents: List of Illustrations Preface Secretaries of the Navy, 1798-1843 Chapter 1 The Health, Welfare, and Safety of Seamen Chapter 2 The Quasi-War with France Chapter 3: Medicine and Health in the Quasi-War Chapter 4: The Barbary Wars Chapter 5: New Orleans Chapter 6: Medical Care Ashore: Boston Chapter 7: Naval Health Care in the North and South Chapter 8: Washington, D.C. Chapter 9: The War of 1812 at Sea Chapter 10: The War of 1812 Ashore Chapter 11: The War of 1812 on the Lakes Chapter 12: Toward a More Professional Service Chapter 13: Health Care and Hospitals, 1816-1829 Chapter 14: Continuing Reform Efforts Chapter 15: Health Problems, 1829-1842 Chapter 16: The Growth of Professionalism Chapter 17: Establishment of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Abbreviations Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Harold D. Langley is curator of naval history at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.


A remarkable labor of love, Harold Langley's substantial volume records the lives of early U.S. naval surgeons, the engagements in which they were involved and the casualties they treated, in painstaking and often gory detail. -- Roy Porter * Nature * Chronicling half a century of history in acomprehendible, yet thorough fashion is no easy task. In A History of Medicine in the Early U.S. Navy, Harold Langley is able to accomplish both... an impressive overview of medicine in the early Navy. -- Sarah Tronic * Navy Medicine *

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