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This biography is from ANNALS of the Medical Society of the County of Albany, 1806-1851, by Sylvester D. Willard, M. D.

Peter Wendell

Peter Wendell was descended from Evert Janson Wendell, one of the early families from Holland, and was born in Albany on the 3d day of June, 1786. Here he obtained his early and classical education, and pursued the study of medicine under the instruction of Dr. William McClelland. He attended two courses of lectures at the University of Pennsylvania and became an enthusiastic admirer of that distinguished patriot and physician, Dr. Benjamin Rush, whose views he embraced and whose teachings became the guide of his practice in after years.

Having graduated at Philadelphia he returned to Albany in the spring of 1807, and at once united with the Medical Society which had only recently been organized. He commenced his professional career under auspicious circumstances. There were but a few practitioners of eminence in the city and they were all advanced beyond the meridian of life, while he was surrounded by a large circle of influential friends who gave him their encouragement. He was prompt in his business and attentive to his patients, and he rapidly won reputation, and a large and lucrative practice.

Dr. Wendell was at an early period elected by this Society a delegate to the State Medical Society, where he was in a few years elected permanent member, and for a long time filled the office of Censor in that Society for this district. In 1813 he read a dissertation before the Society on the stimulant effects of cold. In 1823 he was elected by the legislature, Regent of the University of the State of New York, and was faithful and attentive to the great variety of business that came before that board, making himself familiar with all its details, devoting much care and attention to the state library and the cabinet of natural history. He at length became, with a single exception, senior member of the board and was elected chancellor of the Regents of the University in 1842. This honorable position he continued to occupy until the close of his life. It was a position which brought him into relations with most of the leading men of the state, and he well sustained the dignity of the office.

Dr. Wendell felt the important and responsible relation of the medical profession to the public, and he always sought to promote the interests of the profession and to inculcate for it a proper respect. After a practice of forty-two years, Dr. Wendell died suddenly of disease of the heart, on the 31st of October, 1849, in the sixty-fourth year of his age. An excellent portrait of him has its proper place in the state library. Dr. Wendell has been represented in the profession by one son, who for several years was a practitioner in Albany, Dr. Herman Wendell, but who is now retired from professional life, and a son-in-law, Dr. S. Oakley Vanderpoel, late surgeon general of the state.

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