Selected writings of John King.
Honor and principle stood above all else in the creed of John King. While he was accused of contending for ignorance and putting the privilege to practice medicine into the hands of all and any who should choose to exercise it, yet it was only in the interests of man's rights.—a principle with him—that he fought every movement to fetter a human being so long as that being violated no principle of right. He was the foe of malpractice and would promptly punish therefor; he was the advocate of a liberal education, but contended that a parchment did not necessarily show that the possessor was educated. Even though his own interests were imperiled would he adhere to a principle he believed in, and such an one can justly ask of another, "In this matter what have you done, what are you doing, and what will you do to overthrow this monstrous and oppressive fraud?"—Ed. Gleaner.
ADHERENCE TO PRINCIPLE.—"My fellow colleagues, in this matter what have you done, what are you doing, and what will you do to overthrow this monstrous and oppressive fraud ? I understand there are some who assume the name of Eclectic, but who have no idea of the labor, the expense, the arguments that our early Reformers were compelled to employ in order to overthrow medical legislation in the States and to have the constitutional rights of persons recognized and acknowledged. At this time these Eclectics have gone back upon the manly efforts of their originators and predecessors, and, aping Old School meanness and anti-republicanism, are sneakingly whining for legislation to restrict practice, thus undoing and giving the lie to our sturdy patriotic pioneers. When I observe this toadying to Old School attempts at usurpation and tyranny among our physicians, I can not refrain from exclaiming, God help our country if this aggressive, restrictive tendency is to prevail—it is but one step from this to imperialism!
"Interfere with no man's rights; but if in art or science he be in the wrong, prove it, not by legislation, but by overpowering him with superior knowledge, superior skill, and truth. This is the best method to compel him to thoroughly inform himself upon those points in which his deficiency has been proved. But no legislation. Science does not need it and can much better take care of itself when not attached to statutes".
"I have no objection to college studies; on the contrary, I highly commend them as useful and valuable to every person who would practice medicine. I have been deeply interested in the welfare of a medical college for many years; it is in its behalf and that of its alumni that I am now battling. But as deeply interested as I am in the success of Eclecticism, for the furtherance of which my whole life has been devoted—as much as I desire the prosperity of all our Eclectic medical colleges—I have a higher regard for truth, for duty, for principle; and as much as I love Eclecticism, before I would surrender to a precedent in legislation that would interfere with the privileges of the lowest, the meanest citizen— before I would enslave myself to a precedent that can serve as an entering wedge through means of which all constitutional and personal prerogatives may be ultimately destroyed—before I would submit to be deprived of my American manhood and freedom of opinion, I would give up Eclecticism and everything else, that posterity could not censure me for ignoring the chains of mental and personal slavery that were being forged at this era for their inheritance. Give me Eclecticism, but do not mistakenly endeavor to sustain it by shamefully permitting to pass unnoticed the foulest, the most wicked, the most obnoxious and usurpating legislation that could befall a free people. If we can not sustain ourselves without conniving at disgraceful legislation, let us stop here, acknowledge our cowardice and helplessness, and submissively pass into the deathly field of special legislation—death to mental independence—death to constitutional rights of man—death to free science—death to American liberty—and death to Eclecticism!"— KING, Address on Special Medical Legislation, Eclectic Medical Journal, 1884.
The Biographies of King, Howe, and Scudder, 1912, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M. D.