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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.

John and Daniel James

John James was the tenth child, and seventh son of Deacon Daniel James, and was born in Weybridge, Vermont, on the 18th day of May, 1789. Dr. Daniel James was an elder brother. The father was a plain, earnest, practical man, and did all that he could to advance the educational interests of his many sons. Middiebury College was only two miles and a half from his house, and its easy access gave John the opportunity of spending two winters, under its instruction, returning each spring to the various duties of his father's farm. But he was a slender, delicate boy, retiring in his disposition, and did not take kindly to the rough hard work of a New England farm; he determined not to follow it as the pursuit of his life, and therefore left home at an early age, and went to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where his brother Daniel had a drug store, and became his clerk, and student, and in due time became a practitioner of medicine. He had at some time previously been a student with Dr. Jones of Stockbridge, Mass., for whom he always afterward, entertained a high regard and great affection. While at Pittsfield, an opportunity, offered for him to go to Europe, as medical advisor to Mr. Appleton of Boston, and he sailed from that city in November, 1816. He made a hurried tour through Sicily, Italy, and France, and returned to London, where he attended the Spring course of Lectures, at the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, in London. Ahernethy and Sir Astley Cooper were at that time lecturers to whom Dr. James listened. He afterward attended some of the lecturers at Edinburg, where Dr. Gregory was filling the chair of theory and practice, and Dr. James Thompson, that of surgery.

Dr. James returned to America, in May, 1818, having been absent one year and a half. He seems to have been determined upon a thorough medical education, and his opportunities abroad the more incited his ambition in this respect. In the autumn and winter of 1818, he attended the lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, in the city of New York, and received a degree from that institution on the 6th of April, 1819. He almost immediately came to Albany and entered into business with his brother Dr. Daniel James, who then resided here, and in 1820, he united with the County Medical Society.

In the course of the year 1820, he published a volume entitled, "Sketches of travels in Sicily, Italy, and France," 12 mo., pages 275. The volume was one of interest, inasmuch as Americans were much less familiar with those countries then than now. In his descriptions of cities, scenery, fountains, baths, statuary, churches, paintings, temples, people, manners, habits, hospitals, &c, Dr. James evinces a refined and cultivated taste, a chaste and elegant, though not an elaborate style of writing. The work was dedicated to the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer. It was designed to be followed by another volume, "a year in England and Scotland," but this was never published.

Dr. James continued to reside in Albany until 1836, when he removed to Alton, Illinois, where he lived for nearly a quarter of a century. For several years he was connected with the Medical Department of Illinois College, as Professor of Theory and Practice of Medicine. He enjoyed also a large practice in Alton and its vicinity.

Dr. James preserved case books, and wrote out his journals with great care, and left voluminous manuscripts on various subjects, but none of them have fallen under the eye of the writer. He was a man of industry, of quiet habits, a lover of books, among which the last years of his life was mostly spent, of dignified manners and deportment, of Christian faith and practice. He died on the 12th of October, 1859, of typhoid enteritic fever, after an illness of three weeks, at the age of seventy years.

The following notice of the elder brother, Dr. Daniel James, has been kindly contributed by Prof. I. W. Jackson, of Union College.

"The ancestors of Doctor Daniel James were among the early colonists of Rhode Island. Coming originally from Wales, for some time previous to emigrating from the old world, they had resided in Scotland.

Daniel James, the father of the trio of physicians, Daniel, John, and Edwin, was born at Bristol, Rhode Island, in 1746. In 1769 he married Mary Ernes and soon after removed to Stockbridge, Mass. Here Daniel, the second son was born Sept. 10th, 1776. In 1788 the family removed to Weybridge, Vermont. On becoming of age, Daniel returned to Stockbridge and commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Jones of that place. Soon after completing his studies, he began his career as a medical practitioner in Pittsfield, Mass. In 1805 he married Lucy Wells, by whom he had four children, three of whom are now living.

In 1810, '12, and '13, he attended the medical lectures at the University of Pennsylvania, in which Drs. Rush, Physic, and Dorsey were then Professors.

About the year 1813 he removed to Albany. Soon after Mrs. James died, and in 1818 he married the widow of Loyal Case, Esq., of Middlebury, Vermont. She lived but three years, and in 1823 he married Hettie Delavan, sister of E. C. Delavan, Esq. His health becoming infirm, he soon after relinquished the practice of his profession and retired to a farm in Galway, Saratoga county. While living here he spent several winters in Florida, as the medical attendant of invalids whom he accompanied thither from the north.

After a residence of some years in Galway, Mrs. James was attacked with a cancerous affection which rendered it expedient to leave the farm. Their next permanent residence was Utica, where Mrs. James died.

While residing at Utica the Doctor spent several summers in succession at the Red Sulphur Springs of Virginia, where his health received needed annual renovation, and his professional skill was in constant requisition and highly appreciated. In 1842 he married Angelica G. Macbeth, niece and adopted daughter of the Hon. Ezekiel Gilbert, of Hudson N. Y. About 1851 he removed to the village of New Hartford, near Utica where he spent the remaining years of his life. He died January 31st, 1861.

Dr. James belongs preeminently to the class of self-educated men. His opportunities for intellectual training so far as seminaries of learning were concerned, were limited to those furnished by the common school more than half a century ago, and of these he was able to avail himself only occasionally. Up to the age of twenty-one his days were given to the labors of the field, chiefly too, in a new country in which the demands upon the pioneer cultivator were severe and incessant. The few books that he was able to procure could thus be read or studied only in the evening, during hours which most young men in his position would have spent in listlessness or sleep. But these short intervals were systematically improved, nor were his days lost in mere corporeal labor. He was by nature a close and accurate observer and found healthful intellectual exercise in noting, experimenting, and reasoning upon whatever was taking place around him, whether in the immediate province of his labors, or in the more extended field of nature beyond it.

With his ardent thirst for knowledge, the circumstances in which young James was placed would in most cases have produced a morbid condition of mind or at least a chronic distaste for rural pursuits, but on him the effect was far different. He acquired a love for agriculture and gardening which amounted almost to a passion and which he retained undiminished to the end of his life. He became a worshipper of nature in all her aspects and productions. A noble tree was for him an object of reverence.

Thus in spite of the depressing conditions of his life, the period of his nonage was healthful and happy: he grew up a strong, energetic, self-reliant man.

Very early he had formed the resolution, that sooner or later he would be a physician, and when at the age of twenty-one came the period of his release from the labors of the farm, he returned to the beautiful village of his birth to carry out his long cherished design.

In Stockbridge, that beau-ideal of a little community known as a New England village, which unhappily is no longer to be found even in New England, was at this time, probably as completely verified as it has ever been. Emigration had not destroyed the homogeneity of its population, nor had universal sufterage subverted the equilibrium of its politics. The claims to respect of the higher class was founded on something better than its wealth, and most of the old deference paid to birth and position was still freely conceded as a right.

Judge Sedgewick was the leading man of Stockbridge, and the numerous members of his family, afterwards so distinguished by their virtues and talents, were then growing up. In such society and under such influences young James pursued his studies. The contrast between life in Stockbridge, and life in the solitary Vermont farm house must have been great.

The professional career of Dr. James opened very favorably, and as long as his health permitted him to pursue it, its rewards in position at least, were all that he could desire. In Pittsfield where he spent the first ten years of his professional life he soon acquired both abundant practice as a physician and influence and esteem as a citizen; and when in Albany he sought a wider field for the exercise of his talents, he became immediately the cherished medical attendant of some of the leading families of the city; the Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer's, Judge Spencer's, Dewitt Clinton's, and others of that class.

His methods of practice were very much in advance of those almost universally pursued at that day. He seems early to have learned the truth, only now beginning to be apprehended that nature, not medicine cures disease. It must not be supposed that he therefore regarded medicine as useless; on the contrary he used frequently to say that he had great faith in a little medicine judiciously administered.

A just notion of his merits may best be given by saying, that in his treatment of a patient he truly exemplified the oflice of the physician as laid down by the profound and accomplished author of a recent address before the Medical Society of New York.

A firm believer in the truth of Christianity, it seemed ever his aim without ostentation to conform his actions to the precepts of its Divine Author. His interest in the well being and happiness of his fellow men was universal, extending to every grade of social position and to every condition and circumstance of life. Indeed few men have lived who could with greater truth than Dr. James, adopt as their own the classic formula of the expression of philanthropic sentiment:

Homo sum et humaniame nil alienumputo,".

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