Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Biography on Hugh Williamson, Physician and Patriot

Dr. George Sheldon, Professor of Surgery and Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has just completed the first full-length biography of Hugh Williamson [1735-1819], an illustrious figure in both American and North Carolina history. Hugh Williamson: Physician, Patriot, and Founding Father recounts the remarkable life of Williamson, who not only was a signer of the US Constitution, but also a polymath who was a member of the University of Pennsylvania's first graduating class, and later studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and trained with the renowned surgeon, John Hunter.

A member of the American Philosophical Society, Williamson was politically engaged as well. He was among the planners of the Boston Tea Party, and later became the surgeon general of the North Carolina Revolutionary War Militia. In 1782, Williamson was elected to the North Carolina legislature, and was chosen to serve in the Continental Congress, where he advocated for federalism; on September 17, 1787, he was one of the signers of the Constitution. Later he served in the first US House of Representatives, and was one of the original trustees of the University of North Carolina, the oldest public university in the country.

Published by Humanity Books, an imprint of Prometheus Books, Hugh Williamson has already garnered praise from reviewers:

No longer can we claim that Dr. Hugh Williamson, a signer of the Constitution, is one of our least known Founding Fathers. Dr. Sheldon's wide-ranging biography clearly reveals the political, educational, and philanthropic activities in which this typical Enlightenment figure played significant roles.

-- Gert H. Brieger, MD, PhD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Physician, surgeon, scientist, rebel, sometime spy, politician, and distinguished Founding Father--Hugh Williamson was all these and more. In this fascinating account of Williamson's multifaceted career, Dr. Sheldon . . . has brought a great American patriot to life, and made him unforgettable.

-- Sherwin Nuland, MD, FACS, Yale University School of Medicine

. . . Sheldon has provided [his readers] with a complete, informative, and satisfying "dissection" of a unique, multifaceted life. There is a parallelism between the author and Williamson in that both are recognized, particularly, for their contributions to their adopted state of North Carolina.

-- Seymour I. Schwartz, MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine

Dr. Sheldon is the Zack D. Owens Distinguished Professor of Surgery and Professor of Social Medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also the Director of the Health Policy Research Institute of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) and Editor-in-Chief of e-FACS.org, the web portal of ACS. From 1984-2001 he served as Chair of the Department of Surgery at UNC.

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