Lane Library

University of the Pacific

. . .Pretenders in medicine, and quack nostrums will increase in number until, by some means, the number of uneducated, ungentlemanly M.D.'s is lessened in the regular profession.

No one capable of judging believes for a moment that one in three of the horde of graduates whom our fifty or sixty medical schools send forth annually are any more fit to be trusted with the management of the human frame that their great grandmothers or an aboriginal pretender.

These youths are sent out ostensibly, theoretically "to make alive," but really "to kill," until they have learned, by synthetical destruction, the method of analytical salvation. It is known they will kill, not through malice, of course, but ignorance; not through necessary ignorance, but through culpable ignorance; through an unreasonable, a wicked deficiency of the most essential, elementary, anatomical, chemical and physiological knowledge.

How can any knowledge of these great departments of science be acquired in a portion of three years by an unlettered person? And yet they could be almost mastered in that period by a good intellect, already schooled in the exact, comparative, and metaphysical departments of learning. But not one in three of medical graduates have any substantial preliminary education. It is a shame and a fraud that Latin diplomas should be given to men who are ignorant of English and Latin, by professors who do not know a noun substantive from a noun abstract in any modern language, much less in Latin or Greek. Yet this is done annually, not once but one hundred times.

These remarks were suggested by the urgent requests that have been made to us, that we should take some notice of the Medical College recently established in this city, under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

A Medical College was not needed here. There is no fund for the endowment of the College, and there are no students to attend the lectures, and there are no capable physicians who have the leisure and the philanthropy to deliver lectures gratis.

Under such auspices the profession will readily appreciate into what hands the different departments of medical teaching must fall. It is painful to us to make any mention of this institution, because we love California and wish to be able to speak proudly of all her institutions. But, at the same time, we are not willing that the profession abroad should be deceived in this matter. The profession here understand it. We shall say nothing of the personal character or morality of the professors, for we believe a very bad man can be a very good scholar. Two of the corps of professors are gentlemen of liberal education and unexceptionable character, both professionally and morally, as far as we know, and students would profit by their teachings and example. Of two more we will say nothing. We have seen many worse men and more ignorant doctors.

The Professor of Surgery we will let speak for himself. By his own words ye may judge him. We do not say that he is not a graduate in medicine. We understand he graduated in St. Louis, Missouri, some ten years ago. He practiced some time in the village of Peoria, Illinois, and was an advertising physician there; that is, he had advertisements in all the country papers. This we are told by a medical gentleman who knew his professional standing in Peoria, and who says it was bad on account of his advertising. He then came to this city, after making a flying visit to London and Paris, which fact he is careful to make known in his puff of advertisements here.

(Note: At this point Wooster reprints several of Cooper's ads, the last of which is the following.)

"Dr. E. S. Cooper has taken an office at the Oakland House, in the city of Oakland, [across the bay, ten miles] where he can be found after the arrival of the evening boat at Oakland, and in the morning till 10 A. M. The state of his health has induced him to transfer his lodgings to Oakland, where he will treat a limited number of cases. Those who wish his services should call before ten o'clock in the evening, as, on account of his health, he will not receive night calls, except in very urgent cases or important operations. All his surgical instruments and apparatus for the treatment of deformities are still kept at his office, at the Pacific Infirmary, on Mission street between Second and Third streets. All consultations and operations before 10 A. M., gratis; after that the usual fee of ten dollars will be charged. Physicians in good standing in the profession, cordially invited to visit the Infirmary on the operating days."

Such are the professional antecedents, not half told, of the head and front and founder of the Pacific Medical College. He instituted the college, he named the professors, and those he named were so elected. This is notorious in San Francisco: and it is also notorious that not one of the professors is distinguished, either as a scholar or a physician. But still these men have power to confer degrees, to send forth graduates, who, by the codes of ethics, can claim equality at the bedside, with those who would be excused, nay, not merely excused, but prohibited from professional association with the Professor of Surgery under whom they will graduate.

We hope our Atlantic brethren will not be deceived; the Pacific Medical College is now a legitimized sham - a legal humbug - a chartered advertising medium for the man, of whose advertisements we have spoken above. The College is in his Infirmary, and all the "appurtenances thereunto belonging." We never knew a quack reform. The temptation is too strong to be resisted after it has once been acted on. The principal must have been well nigh thirty years old when he began to be an advertising physician. He has contrived a way now to puff himself legitimately, and of course, he stops the more overt and expensive method of advertising in the papers.

If this College is recognized in the medical brotherhood, under its present organization, it is idle to make distinctions between honorable physicians and quacks.

The abilities of the different professors is of little consequence, for they have only straw pupils.

We have written this notice of the origin of the Medical College of California, that it may stand as a historical record of the utter looseness of professional ethics in California in the year 1859.

We see from this editorial that Cooper's chronic illness was beginning to interfere seriously with his surgical practice, - and that a medical journal can be a dangerous weapon in the hands of an unscrupulous editor such as Dixon or Wooster. As a further example of the unprincipled manner in which Wooster used his Journal to abuse Cooper, we can call attention to publication of the first Register of California Physicians in the May 1858 issue of the Journal. [24] Cooper was duly included among the registered physicians. When the Register was revised and reissued in December 1858 (after the break with Wooster), Cooper's name had been deleted, for which Wooster gave the following truculent explanation: "There are. . . names omitted (from the Register) in the December number, which was intentional on our part, and for reasons which the parties may know if they desire, by application." [25] [26] In like manner, Cooper's articles published in the 1858 volume of the Journal were expunged from the journal's Index.

With his usual foresight, Cooper had planned ahead to counter such assaults as these on himself and his enterprise, and Wooster was soon to experience a rude awakening, editorially speaking.


San Francisco Medical Press

After founding the medical school, the sole objective of Cooper's Master Plan yet to be attained was publication of a medical journal. His exploration of such a venture with Dr. Alexander Spencer of San Jose in 1855 was unproductive. The promising California State Medical Journal, which Cooper strongly supported, survived only from July 1856 to April 1857 because of lack of support. Although Cooper and Rowell provided Wooster with funds to launch the Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal in 1858, Wooster later obtained other support (doubtless from Toland) and used the publication, then the only medical journal in California, to attack Cooper and his enterprise.

Under the circumstances, Cooper decided in 1859 that he could wait no longer to publish a journal of his own - devoted to the advancement of medicine, the elevation of the profession and the resuscitation of the State Medical Society for whose formation he was originally responsible. He certainly also had in mind using the journal to promote his medical school and to vigorously confront Wooster and the conspiratorial ring bent on destruction of both the school and the State Society. Cooper published the first issue of his journal, the San Francisco Medical Press, in January 1860 and prefaced this number with the following statement of purpose: [27]

San Francisco, 20 January 1860

My objects in establishing a Medical Journal in San Francisco are as follows:

First. To encourage unanimity of feeling and concurrence of action among Medical men of this City and State, in the organization of new, and in perpetuating the old associations for Medical improvement.

Second. To inquire into and remove, as far as possible, the sources of discord which have reigned to so great an extent in these organizations.

Third. To vindicate the rights of all honorable Medical men when unjustly assailed.

Fourth. To offer a medium for the publication of the numerous interesting and often anomalous cases, treated by practitioners on this coast.

Fifth. To encourage Medical men of the Pacific coast to extend their subscriptions to Medical Journals of the Atlantic States and Europe.

The Press will be published quarterly during the first year, and, perhaps, monthly or bimonthly after that time, should the number of valuable original communications and reports of important cases contributed, require it for their publication.

The design is, more to furnish original articles, than to reproduce those which have already been published in Medical Journals, and which may be obtained at much less cost than they can be republished for here.

To accomplish the above objects I shall devote my utmost energy, as long as I am the editor of a Medical Journal in this city; nor shall any impediment thrown in my way, lessen my determination to labor for these results, which I will do, uninfluenced by passion, fear or favor.

E. S. Cooper

David Wooster became the sole editor of the Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal, beginning in January 1860. The first number of the San Francisco Medical Press, also published in January 1860, was clearly the more robust of the two publications. The January 1860 issue of the Journal was particularly anemic, carrying only one original article (Toland "on an undescribed form of peritoneal hernia") plus some abstracts from other journals, whereas the Press carried eight brief articles by members of the local profession (including Professors Carman, Cole, Cooper and Rowell) as well as numerous pungent editorial comments. Among the latter were barbs aimed at Wooster whose slanderous editorial about Cooper's ethics and his school's insignificance, quoted above, called for a vigorous response. From the outset, there could be no doubt that Cooper intended to use the Press to settle accounts with Wooster and the San Francisco "old guard."

The following are the first salvos from Cooper in a war of words that soon echoed from coast to coast. He began his campaign by taunting Wooster on his indictment as a perjurer: [28]

A Medical Man Indicted for Perjury

Dr. David Wooster, one of the editors of the "Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal," of this city, has been indicted by a Grand Jury of San Francisco County for the crime of perjury. The bill was found defective, and the case was sent again to the Grand Jury, where it is said it will be brought up again. Whether he will be punished or not, according to law, remains to be seen We learn that his apologists have endeavored to vindicate him on the ground of stupidity; but we are sure that this is not a just defense. We have known Dr. Wooster very well in time gone by, and then we supposed him to be honorable. He is a man of much more than ordinary shrewdness, and well calculated to relieve himself from the meshes of the law - when criminals of less management would be quickly punished; and he is equally well calculated to relieve himself from the imputation of committing perjury through stupidity.

And he denounced Wooster's cohorts for their conspiracy against him: [29]

Medical Men of California

In medicine and surgery, as well as in almost everything else, California did not grow gradually, as has been the case with other new States of the Union, but at a single step stood side by side with the older sister States. A more gentlemanly, well educated class of medical men, than the mass of the profession in California, we are convinced cannot be found in any quarter. It is true, we have some of the worst men in the world in our ranks, but they are the exceptions. We have medical men here destitute of merit, but who by coming to this coast at an early day, obtained influential positions through political favors, and other fortuitous circumstances. They have done the profession of this State the greatest possible injury.

These medical men, more dissipated than studious, appear to think every other medical man who is not of their tastes and habits, but half civilized. They band together in the city for mutual protection and the pulling down of others' characters; have a secret organization, and whenever a stranger comes in, who shows a disposition to labor for the advancement of medical science, they select him as their victim, pursue him with the most determined malignity, with every species of falsehood and slander. They have thrown discord and confusion into every society formed for medical improvement in the city.

But their influence is rapidly declining, and as it does so, a more desperate band of would-be assassins of character than they are becoming, never before disgraced the dignified name of physician.

They appear to think that no exertion is required to sustain themselves, but that every effort in their power must be made to ruin the characters of others. If the industry they use in attempts to injure others were exhausted in laudable exertions to advance themselves in an honorable way, they might be gaining instead of losing a reputation.

Wooster, enraged at being openly branded a perjurer, sought to show his contempt for Cooper by the following crude entry in the next (February 1860) issue of the Journal: [30]

The Editorial article in Cooper's San Francisco Medical Press, headed "A Medical Man Indicted for Perjury," is, as it reads, wantonly and maliciously false. The editor of that Journal is a low bred, disgusting, ignorant knave.

To which Cooper promptly replied in the next (April 1860) issue of the Medical Press by reprinting the above reckless outburst by Wooster, and following it with extensive excerpts of Wooster's patently false testimony under cross-examination by Attorney Barstow at the Hodges trial. The net effect was to expose Wooster, in his own words, as a foul-mouthed, conniving hypocrite.

We interject here an explanation for dwelling at some length in this narrative on the conflict between Cooper and his detractors. It is impossible to find in the annals of American medicine a medical school which was successfully established in the face of such malicious and powerful opposition as he encountered. We have already told of the attacks on Cooper during the years preceding the founding of the school; assaults that were calculated to drive him from practice in San Francisco, but failed in their purpose. Far from ceasing, the plots against Cooper after the founding of the school became even more outrageous. Only by reporting these offenses in some detail are we able to show the impediments he faced, and overcame.

Also in the April 1860 issue, Cooper announced with justifiable pride that "the second session of the Medical Department of the Pacific will commence on the first Monday of May next, and continue eighteen weeks." In spite of the indignities perpetrated by its enemies during the past year, the school was on a sound footing. Unconcerned with the probability of being charged with "puffing" the institution, Cooper made the following editorial comments on prospects for the future: [31]

Good taste does not permit us to speak of the talents, industry or capacity for teaching, of the Faculty of this College, but we will say this, that there is no better place on the globe than San Francisco, for establishing a permanent school of the first class; and that if the members of the present Faculty should not make it one of the kind, the fault will be their own, because all the materials necessary for accomplishing this object, are either here now, or rapidly forming, and will only require to be skillfully appropriated to succeed, croakers may assert the contrary, notwithstanding

San Francisco is the finest place in the world for cultivating practical anatomy. It is the only place in which dissections can be conducted the whole year - in July and January alike.

San Francisco is probably the only city in which the climate is just right every day in the year for the performance of surgical (plastic excepted) operations. . .

Of the immense number of young lads now at our literary college and schools on this coast, there will, in a few years, be many desirous of becoming medical men; and the diseases among us present so many peculiar features, that in order to practice successfully in this region, they must receive a medical education here.

By the by: we learn that some of those who sneered most industriously at the idea of a Medical College in California, at first, are now talking of establishing a second one in this city. We hope they will. We always did like competition. It affords the finest stimulus to exertion in the world.

Besides, no one can make a respectable teacher in a medical college, without being a hard worker, and the more active laborers we have in the field of Medical Science on this coast, the more the profession will be elevated. We feel as if we could become the very friends of those who would perform the labor, and make all the sacrifices necessary for sustaining another medical college in this city, in spite of the conflicting interest which might occur.

It appears that no sooner had the Medical Department of the University of the Pacific become a reality than the enemies of the school began planning to supplant it with an institution of their own. It was rumored that Dr. Toland, who stood aloof from the State Society and medical politicking while nursing his antipathy for Beverly Cole, had accumulated a fortune by his surgical practice and would finance the alternate school. However perverse the motivation for such a move, Cooper said he welcomed it, in principle. He foresaw that conflict of interest and competition would occur - as indeed they did.

Levi Cooper Lane Resigns from the Navy

In spite of the bold assertion that the outlook for his school was promising, Cooper could not but be uneasy at the prospect of a well-funded competitor under the auspices of his icy rival, Toland. Providentially, all gloomy thoughts of future conflict on still another front were extinguished by the following news which he published in the Medical Press for April 1860: [32]

Dr. Lane, who visited our city some months since in the capacity of surgeon of the U. S. sloop-of-war Warren, has resigned his position for the purpose of spending some months in the hospitals of Europe, after which he designs coming to California for the purpose of finding a permanent home, as we are pleased to learn. Dr. Lane was marked first in the list of candidates who were examined for assistant surgeons in the Navy, in the year 1856. His intelligence, suavity of manners, and gentlemanly deportment, secured many friends among medical men in this city during his brief stay, who could but be pleased at the accession to their ranks, of one so well calculated to work for the elevation of the profession.


Second Annual Session of the Medical Department
May to September 1860

During the second session the original Faculty of Professors Barstow, Carman, Cole, Cooper, Morison and Rowell remained unchanged. There was a slight modification of the fee schedule. Beginning with this session, the fee to each Professor was changed from thirty to twenty dollars. [33]

Fourteen students matriculated, only two more than the previous session, but class size was holding and that was reassuring. There was one graduate in September: Charles C. Furley.

Academically, the year was uneventful, yet the relentless harassment of Cooper continued.

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