Benjamin Rush To Judgment

The good, the bad, and the bloody libel trial.

In our third season finale, we look at founder Benjamin Rush—a confounding founder who always “aimed well” but sometimes missed the mark spectacularly. (And then blamed the mark for being in the wrong place and not listening to him.)

Listen now:

We look at some of the incredibly progressive and brilliantly ahead of his time contributions Rush made in the fields of mental health and occupational therapy, his legacy on race, and his dedication to his patients.

But our focus is on Rush during the Yellow Fever epidemics of 1793 and 1797 in Philadelphia and the dramatic libel trial of William Cobbett – a satirical newspaper publisher who accused Rush of killing his patients with his excessive bleeding and purging.


We’ll be back with more episodes in 2022! Keep up with us on Facebook in the meantime, and consider supporting us by joining our Patreon family for exclusive perks and bonus material!

Law and Medicine in Revolutionary America: Dissecting the Rush v. Cobbett Trial, 1799 by Linda Myrsiades
Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried
Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793 by J. H. Powell
Bleeding by the Numbers: Rush Versus Cobbett” by Andrew G. Shuman, Marc Edelman, and Joseph Fins, The Pharos (Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society), Autumn 2014
John Mitchell, Benjamin Rush, and Yellow Fever” by Saul Jarcho, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Vol. 31, No 2 (March-April, 1957)
Benjamin Rush, Race, Slavery, and Abolitionism, Dickinson College
A Liar and…Perverting Rascal: How the Debate to Treat Yellow Fever in 18th Century Philadelphia Turned Political and Violent” by Shawn. R. Dagle, Adams’ Pendulum [Newsletter] Stephen Fried, author of “Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, History Camp Discussions [Video] “Invasive Aedes mosquito expands reach in Los Angeles, Orange Counties” by Lila Seidman, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 11, 2021
Zika mosquito carries memories of Phila.’s 1793 yellow fever” by Don Zapatkin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 4, 2016
Dr. Benjamin Rush: The Founding Father Who Healed a Wounded Nation by Harlow Giles Unger
To Alexander Hamilton from George Washington, 6 September 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 15, June 1793 – January 1794, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969, pp. 324–325.
To John Adams from Benjamin Rush, 8 September 1810,” Founders Online, National Archives.
1775. Septr. 24. Sunday.,” Founders Online, National Archives. [Original source: The Adams Papers, Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, vol. 2, 1771–1781, ed. L. H. Butterfield. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1961, pp. 181–183.] “Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, 7 October 1814” Founders Online, National Archives. [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Retirement Series, vol. 8, 1 October 1814 to 31 August 1815, ed. J. Jefferson Looney. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 12–13.]


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