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view of the civil and military history of the colonies, anterior to their revolution, is prefixed ; and a history of the United States, from the peace of 1783, to the year 1808, is subjoined.
The United States, for one-third of a century, have been in possession of sovereignty, and of peace, with inconsiderable exceptions, for twenty-five years. The present generation may test, therefore, by experience, the value of the blessings procured for them by their ancestors. A statement of these could not, with propriety, be made in mere histories of the revolution; for, on its termination, the civil institutions of the country were unsettled. The importance of stating the consequences which followed, after efficient government had been superadded to naked liberty, must be apparent. The author begs indulgence, while he expresses an earnest wish, that some capable citizen of each state would oblige his country with a complete history of it, from its first settlement. It is matter of reproach, that the youth of the United States know so little of their own country, and much more so, that the means of obtaining a competent knowledge of its history are inaccessible to most of them.
DAVID RAMSAY. Charleston, December 31, 1808.
The work of Doctor Ramsay ends with the year 1808. It has been presumed by the editor, that a continuance to the close of the late war would be received with pleasure by the public. For this purpose, the talents of the Rev. Doctor Samuel Stanhope Smith, principally, and some other literary gentlemen, have been engaged. The result is respectfully submitted to the patrons of the work, and the friends to the family of the venerable historian.
Philadelphia, November 1, 1816.
DAVID RAMSAY, M. D.
(FROM THE ANALECTIC MAGAZINE.) David RAMSAY was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, on the 2d day of April, 1749. He was the youngest child of James Ramsay, a respectable farmer, who had emi. grated from Ireland at an early age, and by the cultivation of his farm, with his own hands, provided the means of sub. sistence and education for a numerous family. He was a man of intelligence and piety, and early sowed the seeds of knowledge and religion in the minds of his children. He lived to reap the fruit of his labours, and to see his offspring grow up around him, ornaments of society, and props of his declining years. The early impressions which the care of this excellent parent made on the mind of Dr. Ramsay, were never erased, either by the progress of time, the bustle of business, or the cares of the world. He constantly entertained and expressed the highest veneration for the sacred volume; and, in his last will, written by his own hand, five months before his death, when committing his soul to his maker, he takes occasion to call the bible “ the best of books.” It was connected with all his tenderest recollections ; it had been the companion of his childhood, and, through his whole life, his guide, and friend, and comforter. He always cherished the fondest attachment for the place of his nativity, and dwelt with peculiar pleasure on the little incidents of his childhood. Dr. Ramsay had the misfortune to lose an amia. ble and excellent mother very early in life; but that loss was in some measure repaired by his father, who took uncommon pains to give him the best education that could be then obtained in this country. It is somewhat extraordinary, that a man in such circumstances as his father then was, should so far depart from the ordinary practice of persons in his VOL. I.
condition of life, as to give to each of his three sons a liberal education, instead of employing them in the usual offices of husbandry. But this worthy and pious parent reflected, with lord Bacon, that knowledge is power, and that in giving his children wisdom, he gave them an invaluable patrimony; he accordingly put each of his sons successively, first to an English school, then to a classical seminary, and from thence removed them to Princeton College, where they all received the honours of that institution. William, his eldest, became a respectable minister of the gospel ; Nathaniel, who still lives, and is settled in Baltimore, was bred a lawyer; and David directed his attention to the study of physic.
We have, from the very best sources, been able to collect some singular circumstances relative to the early life of Dr. Ramsay. He was, from his infancy, remarkable for his attachment to books, and for the rapid progress he made in acquiring knowledge. At six years of age, he read the bible with facility, and, it is said, was peculiarly delighted with the historical parts of it. When placed at a grammar school, his progress was very remarkable. It was no uncommon thing, says a gentleman who knew him intimately at that time, to see students who had almost arrived at manhood, taking the child upon their knees, in order to obtain his assistance in the construction and explanation of difficult passages in their lessons. Before Dr. Ramsay was twelve years of age, he had read, more than once, all the classics usually studied at grammar schools, and was, in every respect, qualified for admission into college ; but being thought too young for collegiate studies, he accepted the place of assistant tutor in a reputable academy in Carlisle, and, notwithstanding his tender years, acquitted himself to the admiration of every one. He continued upwards of a year in this situation, and then went to Princeton. On his examination, he was found qualified for admission into the junior class; but, in consequence of his extreme youth, the faculty advised him to enter as a sophomore, which he did ; and having passed through college with high reputation, he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, in the year 1765, being then only sixteen years of age. What
an interesting picture is presented by the youth of Dr. Ramsay! That a child but twelve years of age should have made such progress in learning, and, what is more remarkable, that he should have been a teacher of a public school, appears almost incredible. With what peculiar emotions must every one have beheld this little prodigy seated on the knee, not to be amused with a toy, but to instruct full-grown men.
Having completed the usual college course at sixteen, he was enabled to devote some time to the general cultivation of his mind, before he commenced the study of physic: and he spent nearly two years in Maryland, as a private tutor in a respectable family, devoting himself to books, and enriching his mind with stores of useful knowledge.
He then commenced the study of physic, under the direction of Dr. Bond, in Philadelphia, where he regularly attended the lectures delivered at the College of Pennsylvania, the parent of that celebrated medical school which has since become so distinguished. Dr. Rush was then professor of chemistry in that college: and this led to a friendship between Dr. Rush, the able and accomplished master, and Ramsay, the ready, ingenious, and attentive student, that was fondly cherished by both, and continued to strengthen and increase to the latest moment of their lives. For Dr. Rush young Ramsay felt a filial affection; he regarded him as a benefactor, while he entertained the highest veneration for his talents. He never had any hesitation in declaring himself an advocate of the principles introduced by Dr. Rush, in the theory and practice of medicine; and in his eulogium on Dr. Rush, a last public tribute of respect to the memory of his lamented friend, he declares, that “his own experience had been uniformly in their favour, ever since they were first promulgated ;” and adds a declaration, that, in his “ opinion, Dr. Rush had done more to improve the theory and practice of medicine than any one physician, either living or dead." It appears from a letter written by Dr. Rush, on the 15th of September, 1773, on the occasion of the removal of Dr. Ramsay to Charleston, that he was graduated Bachelor of Physic-a degree at that time uniformly conferred-early in the
year 1772,* and immediately commenced the practice of phy. sic, at the “ Head of the Bohemia,” in Maryland, where he continued to practise with much reputation for about a year, when he removed to Charleston. The letter to which we have just alluded, affords the only information we have been able to collect of Dr. Ramsay, at this early period of his life. Dr. Rush, after stating that he would recommend Dr. Ramsay to fill the opening which then existed in Charleston, thus proceeds: “Dr. Ramsay studied physic regularly with Dr. Bond, attended the hospital, and public lectures of medicine, and afterwards graduated Bachelor of Physic, with great eclat; it is saying but little of him to tell you, that he is far superior to any person we ever graduated at our college ; his abilities are not only good, but great; his talents and knowledge universal; I never saw so much strength of memory and imagination, united to so fine a judgment. His manners are polished and agreeable-his conversation lively, and his behaviour, to all men, always without offence. Joined to all these, he is sound in his principles; strict, nay more, severe in his morals; and attached, not by education only, but by principle, to the dissenting interest. He will be an acquisi. tion to your society. He writes-talks-and, what is more, lives well. I can promise more for him, in every thing, than I could for myself.”
Such was the character of Dr. Ramsay, at the commencement of his career in life.
On settling in Charleston, he rapidly rose to eminence in his profession and general respect. His talents, his habits of business, and uncommon industry, eminently qualified him for an active part in public affairs, and induced his fellowcitizens to call upon him, on all occasions, when any thing was to be done for the common welfare. In our revolutionary
* In Kingston's “ American Biographic Dictionary,” it is very incorrectly stated " that Dr. Ramsay experienced some oppositon in obtaining his medical degree;" and, being advised to study one year longer, he " then.obtained his diploma with universal consent, entirely eclipsing all his fellow-students.” It is believed that no opposition was ever experienced by him, and that he received his degree at his first application with a great eclat."