Lane Library

Unfounded Rumors and Friendly Relations

As early as September 1891, Senator Stanford stated in reply to an inquiry from a newspaper correspondent that he intended at some future time to establish a department of medicine in the University. A year later a story appeared in the San Francisco Examiner to the effect that the University of California and Stanford University "are both striving by every possible means to secure the Cooper Medical College." This statement had no basis in fact as far as Stanford was concerned, and President Jordan wrote, "There is nothing as yet in the discussion of the union of Cooper Medical College. It seems to have started in the City without any provocation on our part. . . I do not think Mr. Stanford wishes to extend the University in the direction of medicine for the present." Any further speculation on this subject was completely stopped by the death of Mr. Stanford in June 1893 and the financial reverses for the University which followed. [57]

In any case, interactions between Stanford and Cooper Medical College were likely to occur eventually in view of their common interest in higher education and the mutual respect tending over time to develop between President Jordan, eminent Natural Scientist, and Dr. Lane, foremost physician-scholar in the West.

The Faculty of the College took the initiative. At its Regular Meeting on 19 September 1892, Dr. Lane being present, it was voted to invite President Jordan to be the Orator at the Commencement Exercises of the College on the evening of 6 December 1892.

The Exercises were held in Lane Hall where fully one thousand people assembled to witness the conferring of M. D. degrees to thirty-eight graduates of Cooper Medical College. Punctually at eight o'clock the orchestra struck up a sprightly overture and shortly afterwards the graduates marched to their respective seats two by two with the Faculty at their head. The ceremonies were opened by Reverend Hirst who invoked the blessings of the divine healer upon those on the threshold of their professional careers. Professor Lane then conferred the degrees and Dean Gibbons gave a lengthy Valedictory Address in which he congratulated the students and paid glowing tribute to Dr. Edward R. Taylor who had drafted California's legislation against quacks and empirics that led to establishment of the State's Official Register of Physicians and Surgeons. [58] [59]

President Jordan was the last of the several speakers, choosing as his subject "The General Training of the Physician:" He spoke bluntly of the current status of American medicine and of the need for premedical education to improve the quality of candidates for medical studies. [60]

The medical colleges have made the preliminary training a matter of luxury rather than of necessity, by putting into the same classes under the same instruction the graduates of colleges and persons who come from the country district school. If general culture be essential to professional success, the medical college should say so to those who would enter its doors. So far as any official action in most of our medical colleges is concerned, the illiterate boor, if he can sign the matriculation book, is as ready for medical education as the most accomplished college graduate.

The physicians of our country say the same thing, for the number of college-bred men in medicine is lower than in almost any other profession. Statistics show that in the United States at present, about one clergyman in four, one lawyer in five, and one physician in twelve, has had a college education. Taking the country over, of all classes of students, those in medicine are as a rule (though such a rule admits of many individual exceptions) the most reckless in their mode of life and the most careless of the laws of hygiene and of decencies in general of any class of students whatsoever. This is not so true now as it was a few years ago. In the Cooper Medical College it is doubtless not true at all. For this change the rising standards of our medical schools are certainly responsible. This change results directly from making it more difficult for uncultivated men to win the doctor's degree, and indirectly from bringing better men into the field as competitors. Already there is a good deal of crowding at the bottom of the stairs in the profession, and in view of this fact the scramble for the name of doctor is somewhat abating.

It was my fortune some three years ago to meet that which in Europe is regarded as a typical American physician, one who was taught by nature and not by schools. He was, therefore, regarded by the people of rural England with a reverence which the man of training often fails to inspire. It was in the solemn and decorous village of Stratford-on-Avon that I met this physician. Riding on a gilded circus wagon attired in a cowboy's splendid uniform, with a band of musicians dressed as cowboys and stained as Indians, this man was going through England selling from the wagon, that famous remedy of the Kickapoo Indians, known as August Flower. It cures every disease known to that country-side by the simple purification of the blood. In one day in Stratford-on-Avon he won back for America all the money the Americans have spent on the shrine of Shakespeare within the past 300 years; and on Sunday evening I saw him installed in the famous parlors in the ancient Red Horse Inn at Stratford, sacred to the memory of Washington Irving, as the one American there worthy to dine within its historic walls.

A concerted effort is now being made to raise the standard of the profession of medicine by raising the general culture of physicians. Its purpose is to make medicine a worthy branch of applied science, and its votaries men to whom the word science is not an empty name. It has been a frequent reproach to the medical profession that physicians are not doing their part in this age of scientific investigation and discovery, in a time when the boundaries of knowledge are widening in every direction at a rate of progress never before known. . . .

If our physicians are deficient in general culture, and if it be true that they are not taking their share in the progress of science, may not these facts be associated? May we not have here the relation of cause and effect? What then is the remedy? Is it not this? Bring in better men; shut out from the medical profession the ignorant, trifling and unambitious, the tinker and the job-worker, and reserve the training of our medical schools for those who can bring to their work the instincts, the traditions, and the outlook of the scholar.

This condition of things, I believe, has two causes - the one discreditable to the profession, the other to the colleges. In the first place most of our medical schools are scantily endowed, or else are purely private ventures. It has been for them a business necessity to demand not the preparation they want, but that which they can get. In other words, they have been forced to cater to the desire of ignorance and impatience to take part in the honor and emoluments of the medical profession. For the same reason the standard of graduation has been kept low. A high standard would diminish the sale of the lecture tickets. The character of the profession has been lowered that the medical college may be self-supporting, for not to support itself in part at least means to close its doors. I do not mean to depreciate this class of medical schools, for many of our best teachers of medicine have belonged to them and have given their instruction in the intervals of an active practice.

But this is not the ideal medical school, for no school can be effective until it exists for its work alone - instruction and investigation with no ulterior end whatever. Its teachers should never have to look to the interests of the cash account, and its examiners should never be forced to say that black is white at the demand of an empty treasury. The medical schools of the future will be sustained as necessary parts of university work, and the freedom of the university professor will be the right of the teacher of medicine. The medical school has the same claim for support that other professional schools should have. They have the same claim on the interests of the wealthy friends of education. In the West and in the South, where colleges and the lower schools are alike maintained at the public expense, the medical schools have the same claim for State support that is awarded to other parts of the public school system.

Such a course of study as is here contemplated is actually provided in the undergraduate department of several of our universities, notably at Cornell and Johns Hopkins, in both of which colleges it is known as the medical preparatory course. It is, however, a course of general culture not a technical or professional course. This course, or its equivalent, is to be recognized as a condition of entrance in the new medical school of Johns Hopkins University. No more important movement has been taken toward raising the standard of medical education in America than this recognition by Johns Hopkins University of the necessity of scientific and literary culture as a requisite for professional training.

As the first president of a new university in the West, now in only its second academic year, Jordan's harsh criticism and proposed reforms of the American medical profession and medical education must have seemed brash to Dr. Lane and the Cooper Medical Faculty. Such was Jordan's refreshingly outspoken nature and, furthermore, he had previously given much thought to the issues involved and welcomed the opportunity in the Commencement Address to expound his philosophy of medical education which he later summarized in his autobiography as follows: [61]

As a university president, one of the aims I had long cherished was the development of a medical school on a modern foundation, and even before Johns Hopkins was established I worked out a plan quite in harmony with that adopted by President Gilman and his associates. For medicine always seemed to me essentially a university subject - the application of certain sciences to bodily welfare. Its methods of instruction, therefore, ought to be those of the scientific laboratory; its teachers should be devoted to the extension and diffusion of knowledge, and placed accordingly on the same basis as other university professors. They must, of course, have opportunity, through hospital service and advisory work, to keep abreast of modern methods as well as of research, but they should not have to practice medicine to make a living, nor use their positions for self-advertising.

There were already rumors that Stanford had designs on Cooper Medical College and eventual union of the two institutions had about it an inexorable logic. Let us assume that an intuitive President Jordan seized the opportunity with his Commencement Address to establish the guiding principles of the inevitable courtship and union yet to come. These principles were simple and specific: medical schools of the future will be an integral part of a university; three to four years of college preparation will be required for admission (as already planned at Johns Hopkins University); and core medical faculty will be university faculty and chosen on the same basis.

President Jordan, who had impending financial problems at Stanford, was in no hurry to effect a merger with Cooper Medical College which would be an added expense. Furthermore, the University of California was the only other university option available to the College, and that institution was anathema to Lane.

Time was on Stanford's side. The University could afford to wait until its finances were in better order, and until the College showed interest in a merger on Stanford's terms.


The Pledge

We do not know what the Faculty thought of President Jordan's Commencement address for there is no mention of it in existing College records except that the Minutes of the Faculty meeting on 19 December 1892 report a unanimous vote of thanks to him for his participation in the Commencement exercises. [62]

From Dr. Lane's viewpoint, the persistent and probably malicious rumors of a merger between Cooper Medical College and either the University of California or Stanford were quite disturbing for they implied instability of the College and undermined the confidence of Faculty and students in the permanence of the school.

Now President Jordan had made matters worse by predicting in his Commencement Address that "the medical schools of the future will be sustained as necessary parts of University work." Dr. Lane was firmly opposed to this outcome for his school and felt that he must act promptly to define the long range policy of Cooper Medical College with respect to University affiliation.

At the regular meeting of the College Faculty on 20 February 1893, less than three months after the Jordan Address, Dr. Lane recommended that "the College should never be made the medical department of any literary or scientific school or educational institution," and the proposal was unanimously endorsed by the Cooper Faculty. [63]

Six months later, on 28 August 1893, he brought the subject to a meeting of the Board of Directors which took the action described in the following Minutes: [64]

The President made a few remarks upon the subject of the prosperity and perpetuity of Cooper Medical College, to the founding of which he had devoted so much of the energy and earnings of his life, and presented a paper embodying his wishes and requests concerning the future government of the corporation. Director Ellinwood then offered the following preamble and resolution which was seconded by Director Gibbons and unanimously approved:

Whereas, Dr. L. C. Lane has heretofore given a large amount of property to this corporation, which said property is elsewhere described in this book of minutes; and whereas, the wishes of said donor in regard to said property are as herein below set out; and whereas, the carrying out of said wishes are in the opinion of this Board of paramount importance to the welfare and perpetuity of said college; Now Therefore, Be it Resolved, that it is the sense of this Board that said wishes should be faithfully and punctiliously carried out, and to that end that all those who are now, or who shall be members of this corporation, or members of the faculty thereof, shall severally subscribe their names thereto.

Said wishes are as follows, to wit:

1. The College shall never be affiliated with, or become the department of any other educational institution; but it shall remain an independent school in which Medicine and its Kindred Sciences shall be taught.

2. No Father or Father-in-law, Son or Son-in-law, Brother or Brother-in-law, of any Professor in this College, shall be elected a Professor in the College during the life time of said Professor.

3. A course of ten lectures, now known as the Lane Lectures, upon Public Health, Natural History, or other subjects akin to Medicine, shall be given annually in Cooper College by the Faculty or by persons chosen by the Faculty.

4. The subscribers will not sell, nor permit to be sold, any portion of the property now possessed by the corporation of Cooper Medical College in Block 270, Western Addition in the City of San Francisco, nor will they permit the same to be diverted from the purposes of a medical college, hospital and dispensary for the treatment of the sick, for which the buildings erected by the Donor were intended.

5. When the period expires, viz. 1932, for which the corporation of Cooper Medical College was established, the subscribers then living pledge themselves to the renewal and continuance of the corporation in accordance with the conditions embodied in these wishes and requests of Dr. L. C. Lane.

6. No one shall become a member of the corporation or Faculty of Cooper Medical College until he has subscribed his name to these articles of request; and any member of either of said bodies who shall overtly or covertly violate any of the wishes of the Donor Dr. L. C. Lane contained in any of the preceding sections, shall thereby immediately forfeit his position in, and connection with, Cooper Medical College.

The Secretary was then instructed to copy the preamble, resolution and requests into the back of the book of bylaws, where all present and future members of the corporation and faculty shall sign it.

It is clear that President Jordan's Commencement Address did not persuade Dr. Lane of the value of a university affiliation. On the contrary, the prospect so alarmed him that he sought permanently to forestall any movement in that direction by requiring all present and future Directors and Faculty to sign the above pledge that "The College shall never be affiliated with, or become the department of any other educational institution."

It should not pass without notice that Dr. Lane chose Professor C. N. Ellinwood to introduce the above important resolutions to which members of the Board of Directors and Faculty were thereafter required to affix their signatures. During the next decade he grew so in the favor of Dr. and Mrs. Lane that he became their confidante and personal physician, with consequences to which we shall later refer.

Lane Library