By Naomi Rogers
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Additional info for An Alternative Path: The Making and Remaking of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital
A number of early homeopaths wrote popular health texts to attract patients, as Samuel Thomson had done. Nevertheless, although historians today lump all these groups under the category "alternative," they in fact were rarely colleagues and considered their practices distinctive and usually in competition. As homeopathy spread across the East and Midwest, relations between homeopaths and orthodox physicians began to worsen. Medical societies began to expel or ostracize outspoken homeopaths, and orthodox teachers ridiculed medical students who openly professed a commitment to homeopathy.
27 This language, used by homeo- Page 9 paths especially in the 1840s and 1850s, reminded supporters that in this period becoming a homeopath was part of a conversion into a new world. Indeed, a number of physicians converted both to homeopathy and to Swedenborgianism (the latter also known as the New Church or New Jerusalem Church), and American homeopathy claimed the title the New School and derided orthodoxy as the Old School. 28 American homeopaths constantly faced the charge that their drugs were so mild that they were in fact inactive, that nature, rather than homeopathy, was the healer.
Some students, in this era before extensive rail travel, traveled extraordinary distances. 23 Indeed, those from far away were more likely to be older physicians who had decided that the cost of travel, lodging in an unfamiliar city, and study was justified. Of fifty-five students in 1849, eight of whom already had medical degrees, one each came from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. s, from schools that included the Page 22Figure 3. Students at all nineteenth-century American medical schools had to buy tickets to their professors' lectures.