Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

By Steven M. Stowe | Go to book overview

Epilogue
THE CIVIL WAR AND THE
PERSISTENCE OF THE COUNTRY
ORTHODOX STYLE

In this study, the mid-nineteenth century has been weighted toward the years before the Civil War. And yet, as noted at the outset, this should not imply that the essentials of everyday rural medicine changed sharply after the war. Although the conflict altered the lives of many individual practitioners, most ordinary physicians in the 1870s and 1880s held on to the central expectations and practices at the heart of antebellum country orthodoxy. Indeed, the persistence of the country orthodox style of practice through the Civil War is testimony to the depth of its antebellum influence and thus a good way to sum up its significance in a southern setting.

Older assessments of the Civil War’s effect on medicine tended to highlight certain wartime innovations—in surgical or sanitary techniques, for example— which went on to influence turn-of-the-century advances in medical care. The current view of the war’s consequences is broader and far more mixed, especially for the South, calling into question the once axiomatic link between war and “progress.” Two related themes have emerged. The first is that mass casualties and a shockingly wide variation in doctors’ skills impressed at least some physicians with the inadequacies of their standard therapies, especially the use of the mainstream, “stimulating” drugs like calomel and alcohol. Even so, most war-bound physicians did not radically innovate with their medicines. Instead, as John Harley Warner has suggested, wartime therapeutics may be seen as bringing antebellum orthodox therapy to its “fullest fruition.” The second theme concerns the small but important number of physicians and

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Doctoring the South: Southern Physicians and Everyday Medicine in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Studies in Social Medicine ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Physicians, Everyday Medicine, and the Country Orthodox Style 1
  • Part One - Choosing Medicine 13
  • Chapter One - Men, Schools, and Careers 15
  • Chapter Two - The Science of All Life 41
  • Chapter Three - Starting out 76
  • Part Two - Doing Medicine 99
  • Chapter Four - Livelihood 101
  • Chapter Five - Bedside 131
  • Part Three - Making Medicine 165
  • Chapter Six - The Lives of Others 167
  • Chapter Seven - Landscape, Race, and Faith 200
  • Chapter Eight - Witnessing 228
  • Epilogue - The Civil War and the Persistence of the Country Orthodox Style 259
  • Notes 273
  • Bibliography 327
  • Index 365
  • Studies in Social Medicine 374
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