Are you acquainted with the name Benjamin Rush? If so, you are an exception to the rule. He is not so well-known today. But, Benjamin Rush was a great man in many respects. In fact, Encyclopedia Britannica says of him, “after the death of his friend Benjamin Franklin (he) was recognized as the leading citizen of Philadelphia.”
He was born January 4, 1746 in the area of Philadelphia. He graduated from the college of New Jersey (Princeton) in 1760. He spent the next six years in medical apprenticeship. Then, he received a medical degree in 1768 from the University of Edinburgh.
His career was well colored. In 1769 he was appointed professor of Chemistry in the College of Philadelphia Medical School. In April 1777, he was appointed Surgeon General and in July 1777 he was made Physician General of the Continental Army. He wrote 65 books on medicine and numerous articles. He was a pioneer in the study of mental illness. He was among the first to recognize mental illness as a disease which was in some cases treatable. He taught over 3,000 medical students. He wrote much against tobacco and alcohol use.
Politically, he was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence He was a member of the Pennsylvania state convention which ratified the Constitution. He spoke out against slavery. He was the treasurer of the U.S. Mint from 1797 until his death on April 19. 1813.
But one of this man’s greatest accomplishments was that of a peacemaker. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were the best of friends until the two became political opponents for the office of the Presidency. During that time some words and actions occurred that caused a rift between these two friends. The damage was great, for eleven years the two did not speak to one another or exchange any correspondence. Benjamin Rush was mutual friends to both. And so from 1809 to 1812 (over two years!) Rush corresponded with the two and urged reconciliation. Eventually such did occur in the year 1812. Jefferson and Adams would remain friends until both died on July 4, 1826 (the 50th anniversary of the nation). It may be that such would not have occurred without Benjamin Rush.
Are you a peacemaker? We, as Christians, should be striving to bring about peace between man and man, and most of all we should seek to help bring man back to God, thereby bringing true peace. Matthew 5:9 says “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”