Fraternity in Philadelphia (1819). — Coming down to modern times, we are reminded of a medical fraternity in Philadelphia, in 1819-20. At the University of Pennsylvania Chapter Banquet, in 1899, Brother H. C. Wood detailed to us in his post-prandial address the history of a secret medical fraternity that existed in Philadelphia, the facts concerning which were given to him by Professor George B. Wood, M. D.
In 1819-20, some of the most prominent members of the medical profession became embroiled in a bitter fight. They vented their spleen by writing scurrilous letters, published broad-sides, and reviled one another in articles published in the newspapers. Finally a noted professor caned a fellow-practitioner in the public streets. A challenge followed the caning, and a duel was averted only by the prompt arrest of the two parties by an officer of the law.
At this juncture, some of the peaceable, dignified, self-respecting, and thoughtful physicians, tired of the undignified proceedings, resolved to put a stop to the wrangling of these belligerants, feeling that it was detrimental to the good name and influence of the profession at large. A secret medical fraternity was organized, and a plan was formed which soon put a stop to all the trouble. This oath-bound body made the offending physicians feel that the profession was against them, and that they were in the minority and very unpopular. Soon the atmosphere was cleared, and good feeling was restored; and, as the result, the medical profession in Philadelphia since that time probably has been more harmonious than in any large city in the world.
Curtin, Roland G. 1907. A study of ancient and modern secret medical fraternities. n.p. Philadelphia. https://www.loc.gov/item/09031357/