Sunday, February 8, 2015

Frank Hastings Hamilton, Surgeon


HAMILTON, Frank Hastings, surgeon, born in Wilmington, Vermont, 10 September, 1813; died in New York city, 11 August, 1886.

He was graduated at Union in 1830, after which he entered the office of Dr John G. Morgan, and in 1831 attended a full course of lectures in the Western college of physicians and surgeons in Fairfield, New York In 1833 he was licensed to practice by the Cayuga county medical censors, and two years later received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Soon afterward he began to give a course of lectures in anatomy and surgery in his office in Auburn, which he continued until 1838.

In 1839 he was appointed professor of surgery in the Western college of physicians and surgeons, and a year later was called to the medical college of Geneva. During 1843-'4 he visited Europe, and contributed a record of his experiences to the "Buffalo Medical Journal." In 1846 he became professor of surgery in the Buffalo medical college, subsequently becoming dean, and also surgeon to the Buffalo charity hospital. Two years later he left his chair in Geneva and removed to Buffalo, in order to attend to his practice, which was rapidly increasing.

On the organization of the Long Island college hospital in 1859 he was called to fill the chair of principles and practice of surgery, and was also chosen surgeon-in-chief of the hospital. In May, 1861, he was appointed professor of military surgery, a chair which at that time existed in no other college in the United States.

At the beginning of the Civil War, he accompanied the 31st New York regiment to the front, and had charge of the general field hospital in Centreville during the first battle of Bull Run. In July, 1861, he was made brigade surgeon, and later medical director, and in 1862 organized the United States general hospital in Central park, New York. in February, 1863, he was appointed a medical inspector in the United States army, ranking as lieutenant-colonel, but resigned in September and returned to his duties in Bellevue hospital medical college, where in 1861 he had been appointed professor of military surgery and attending surgeon to the hospital.

In 1868-'75 he was professor of the principles and practice of surgery in the college, and remained surgeon to the hospital until his death. He was also consulting surgeon to other hospitals and to various city dispensaries, and in that capacity Dr. Hamilton had few equals.  On the assassination of President Garfield he was called in consultation, and remained associated with the case until the death of the president.

His notable operations were many, and his descriptions of improved processes are numerous. He invented a bone-drill and an apparatus for broken jaw, and invented or modified appliances for nearly every fracture of long bones, with various instruments in military and general surgery He was the first to introduce the use of gutta-percha as a splint where irregular joint surfaces require support, and the closing of old ulcers by the transplanting of new skin has been repeatedly attributed to him by French and German physicians. He was a member of various medical associations, and was president of the New York state medical society in 1855, of the New York pathological society in 1866, of the New York medico-legal society in 1875-'6, of the American academy of medicine in 1878, and of the New York society of medical jurisprudence in 1878 and 1885. In 1869 he received the degree of EL. D. from Union college.

Dr. Hamilton was a large contributor to medical journals, and many of his special memoirs are accepted as authorities. His works in book-form include "Treatise on Strabismus" (Buffalo, 1844): "Treatise on Fractures and Dislocations" (Philadelphia, 1860; 7th ed., 1884, French and German translations); "Practical Treatise on Military Surgery " (New York, 1861); and "The Principles and Practice of Surgery " (1872; 2d ed., 1873). He edited a translation of Amussat on the "Use of Water in Surgery" (1861), and "The Surgical Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion," published under the direction of the United States sanitary commission (Washington, 1871).

from: Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999.  Retrieved from on 28 February 2007.


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