Becoming a physician

Background:  Andrew Todd was the brother-in-law of John McCulloh and from the writing in the letter must have been a physician himself.  Samuel McCulloh, called Samey in the letter, was the oldest son of John McCulloh and would have been age 16 at the time of its writing. Samuel did become a physician serving as a ships surgeon on one of his father’s ships.

20 May 1788 from Louisa, Virginia – Andrew Todd to John McCulloh

Dear Brother,

I am much pleased to hear that Samey is so far advanced in his education as to commence this summer and should he make choice of the study of Physick, I can & will cheerfully meet your proposal of his spending the first of any part of his time with me and shall be extremely happy how much of it he can spend with me consistant with his own improvement in the knowledge of Theory and Practice of Physick.

I can also assure you that Mrs. Todd will with the  greatest chearfullness agree to his living with us – for upon my expressing some doubts as to the propriety of his spending the first part of his time with me with respect to his own improvement, she could not help desiding me not to write anything to the contrary to you.

I think a great deal will depend on the state of your finances where or with whome he ought to begin & have finish his studies.  If your circumstances are easy would it not be best for him to open the first part of his time in Philadelphia until a good foundation was laid or he was tolerably well acquainted with those first principles of the Theory & Practice of Physick which he can only learn to any tolerable perfection in Philadelphia & afterwards he can read much more as a great advantage in the country as in the city perhaps.  If your circumstances are rather difficult the method you propose will do very well via his spending not only the first part of his time but summer with me & the winter in Philadelphia.  So much will depend on your circumstances that I being unacquainted with them cannot undertake to advise you.  Consult some of your city Physicians & let his opportunities of improvement be the best you can give him even should you expend all you will be able to give him in his education.  If he is a student under any of the Professors of the University [of Maryland] you will save that professors fees.  If under any that is not a professor you will have them still to pay.  A student with shipping, he may become the best anatomist & surgeon with Rush or Kuhn, the best physicians probably.

Let you determine as you may about him.  I think he may spend at least one if not two summers with me to advantage. A number of good authors & will spare pains to instruct him all that I can.  I shall at all times be glad to hear from you more particularly as soon as you & Samey are determined.

My aged father, Polly & our little son are well & join me in wishing you & family every possible happiness here & hereafter.  Should you go to the Western Country, I shall be very happy to see you here on your return if you can make it tolerably convenient.  Present my love to Col. Porter & other inquiring friends.  Parson Todd’s family are all well.  Dady & myself wrote to you a few weeks ago by Parson Blair.  He has one from Dady for you but the two above mentioned are probably still here owing to his not taking Parson Todd in his way as he promised.  I am Dear Brother yours sincerely,                                                                                                                                  Andrew Todd

McCulloh Papers, 1773-1848, Maryland Historical Society, MS 2110, microfilm reel 2, frame 129, 130