Benjamin Rush was a physician, politician, social reformer, humanitarian, educator, and a signer of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Rush was a leader of the American Enlightenment and an enthusiastic supporter of the American Revolution. Born the son of a Philadelphia blacksmith, Rush touched virtually every page in the story of the nation’s founding. It was Rush who was responsible for the late-in-life reconciliation between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This week we speak with the author Stephen Fried about his new book, Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father.
Excerpt from: Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813. “A memorial containing travels through life or sundry incidents in the life of Dr. Benjamin Rush, born Dec. 24, 1745 (old style) died April 19, 1813;.”
On Thomas Jefferson:
He possessed a genius of the first order. It was universal in its objects. He was not less distinguished for his political, than his mathematical and philosophical knowledge. The objects of his benevolence were as extensive as those of his knowledge. He was not only the friend of his country, but of all nations and religions. While Congress were deliberating upon the measure of sending commissioners to France, I asked him, "What he thought of being one of them." He said, "he would go to hell to serve his country." He was afterwards elected a commissioner, but declined it at that time on account of the sickness of his wife. He seldom spoke in Congress, but was a member of all the important committees. He was the penman of the declaration of independence. He once shewed me the original in his own handwriting. It contained a noble testimony against negro slavery which was struck out in its passage through Congress. He took notes of all the debates upon the declaration of independence and the first confederation.
Internet Archive: The Selected Writings of Benjamin Rush