Benjamin Rush, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

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Benjamin Rush, M.D.

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, British Colonial America
Death: April 19, 1813 (67)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States (Typhus fever )
Place of Burial: Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of John Rush and Susanna Morris
Husband of Julia Rush
Father of Lt. John Rush; Anne Emily Cuthbert; Hon. Richard Rush, U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Treasury; Susanna Rush; Elizabeth Rush and 8 others
Brother of James Rush; Rachel Montgomery; Rebecca Stamper; Hon. Jacob Rush; Stevenson Rush and 1 other
Half brother of N.N. Willis

Occupation: Physician; writer; educator
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Benjamin Rush, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"

A Patriot of the American Revolution for Pennsylvania. DAR Ancestor # A100015

Benjamin Rush (December 24, 1745 – April 19, 1813) was a Founding Father of the United States. Rush lived in the state of Pennsylvania and was a physician, writer, educator, humanitarian and a devout Christian, as well as the founder of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He was also an early opposer of slavery and capital punishment. Rush was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and attended the Continental Congress, and he was a Pennsylvania Representative.

(Painting by Peale)


Declaration of Independence Signer. His father died when he was six, and his mother placed him in the care of his maternal uncle Dr. Finley who became his teacher and advisor for many years. In 1759 he attended the College of Philadelphia, where he attained a Bachelor of Arts degree. He continued his education with a Dr. Redman of Philadelphia for four years. He also attained a B.A. at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton) and a M.D. at the University of Edinburgh (Physician). He spent several years in Europe studying and practicing medicine, French, Italian, Spanish, and science. He returned in 1769, opened a private practice in Philadelphia, and was appointed Professor of Chemistry at the College of Philadelphia. He practiced medicine extensively amongst the poor. His practice was successful; his classes at the university were popular. He began to engage in writing that would prove to be of considerable importance to the emerging nation. Rush published the first American textbook on Chemistry. In 1773 he contributed editorial essays to the papers about the Patriot cause. He joined the American Philosophical Society. Rush was active in the Sons of Liberty in Philadelphia during that time. On January 2, 1776, he married Julia Stockton, daughter of fellow Signer, Richard Stockton. In June of 1776 he was elected to attend the provincial conference to send delegates to the Continental Congress. He was appointed to represent Philadelphia that year and so signed the Declaration of Independence. In 1777 he was appointed surgeon-general of the middle department of the Continental Army. As the war continued and Army forces under General Washington suffered a series of defeats, Rush secretly campaigned for removal of Washington as commander in chief, and went so far as to write an anonymous letter to then Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia. He was caught in the act and confronted by Washington, at which point he bowed out of any activities related to the war. In 1789 he wrote in Philadelphia newspapers in favor of adopting the Federal constitution. He was then elected to the Pennsylvania convention that adopted that constitution. He was appointed treasurer of the United States Mint where he served from 1797 to 1813. He became the Professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the consolidated University of Pennsylvania in 1791, where he was a popular figure at the height of his influence in medicine and in social circles. He was also a social activist, a prominent advocate for the abolition of slavery, an advocate for scientific education for the masses, including women, and for public medical clinics to treat the poor. He called for the restriction of alcohol and tobacco use, proposed the study of veterinary medicine, and wrote the first American textbook on psychiatry. One of his primary interests was yellow fever, a disease he battled in Philadelphia during the epidemic of 1793-94. He published his observations and his suggestions for the prevention of the disease in 1794. A pioneer in the study and treatment of mental illness, Rush insisted that the insane had a right to be treated with respect. He protested the inhuman accommodation and treatment of the insane at Pennsylvania Hospital. When he received an inadequate response to his complaints from the hospital's Board of Managers, Rush took his case to the public at large. In 1792 he was successful in getting state funding for a ward for the insane. In 1813 Rhe died suddenly after a brief illness. He was buried in the graveyard of Christ's Church in Philadelphia, the same church whose pastor had christened him 67 years earlier. On learning of his death Jefferson wrote Adams: "Another of our friends of seventy-six is gone, my dear Sir, another of the co-signers of the Independence of our country. And a better man than Rush could not have left us, more benevolent, more learned, of finer genius, or more honest." Adams, grief-stricken, wrote in reply, "I know of no Character living or dead, who has done more real good in America." The year before he died, he published Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind, the first textbook on psychiatry in America. Benjamin and Julia Rush had thirteen children; one of them, Richard Rush 1797, served as cabinet officer or ambassador under four presidents. In 1837 some of Rush's former students founded a medical college in Chicago, which they named for him. The American Psychiatric Association, whose official seal bears Rush's portrait, placed a bronze plaque at his grave in Philadelphia in 1965, designating him the Father of American Psychiatry.'


  • Father: John Rush 1712 - 1751
  • Mother: Susannah Hall Abt 1717 - 1795 m. Bef 1739
  • Wife: Julia Stockton 1759 - 1848 m. 11 Jan 1776 (daughter of Richard Stockton & Annis Boudinot)

The 13 children of Julia Stockton and Benjamin Rush were:

  1. John Rush 1777 - 1837. Died unmarried.
  2. Ann Emily Rush 1779 - 1850. Married Ross Cuthbert.
  3. Richard Rush, Esq. 1780 - 1859, married Catharine Eliza Murray.
  4. Susanna Rush 1782 - died young
  5. Elizabeth Rush 1783 - died young
  6. Mary Rush 1784 - 1849. Married Thomas Manners.
  7. James Rush 1786 - 1869. Married Phebe Ridgeway, no children.
  8. William Rush 1787 - died young
  9. Benjamin Rush 1789 - died young
  10. Benjamin Rush 1791 - 1824. Died unmarried.
  11. Julia Rush 1792 - 1860. Married Henry Jonathan Williams, no children.
  12. Samuel Rush 1795 - 1864. Married Anne Wilmer.
  13. William Rush 1801 - 1864. Married Elizabeth Fox Roberts.

Family notes

The Rush family papers preserves material related to the Revolution-era Philadelphia physician, Benjamin Rush, and his descendants. The Rush family came to be not only one of the most celebrated families of Philadelphia, but also became distinguished throughout the United States and Europe. The Philadelphia family were descendants of John Rush (1620–1699), a former Calvary commander in Oliver Cromwell’s army, who came to Pennsylvania in 1683.

Benjamin Rush was born December 24, 1745 near Philadelphia. His great-great-grandfather John Rush was an officer in Cromwell’s army. In 1683 at the age of 63 he became a Quaker and emigrated from England bringing his children and grandchildren to Pennsylvania. Benjamin Rush was the fourth of seven children born to John and Susanna Rush. John Rush was a farmer turned gunsmith who died when Benjamin was only six. After his fathers death his mother Susanna was the sole support of the family. She opened a grocery that was so successful that she soon opened another shop selling chinaware.

On January 11, 1776 Dr. Benjamin Rush married Julia Stockton the 17 year old daughter of his good friend Richard Stockton of Princeton. The minister that married them was Dr. John Witherspoon whom he had helped bring to America ten years earlier. Six months later they would all sign the Declaration of Independence.

Julia Stockton Rush died at the age of eighty-nine on July 7, 1848 and is buried with her husband in Christ Church Cemetery in Philadelphia. Benjamin and Julia had thirteen children but four died in infancy. Richard Rush, the second son, served as Attorney-General of the United States, Minister to Great Britain, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister to France and was a candidate for the vice-presidency. James Rush, the third son was a medical authority and writer, and endowed the “Ridgeway” branch of the Philadelphia library. James’ wife was Phebe Ridgeway Rush, a leader of Philadelphia society and one of the most famous women in America at the time.

Article found at Written by: John Vinci 2004

Thirteen children were born to Dr. Rush and his wife, as follows: John, Anne, Emily, Richard, Susannah, Elizabeth, Mary, James, William, Benjamin, a second Benjamin, Julia, Samuel, and a second William. Four died in infancy, Susannah, Elizabeth, the first Benjamin, and the first William. John Rush, who was a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy, died unmarried. Emily, the eldest daughter, married Ross Cuthbert, a young Canadian who had been graduated from Princeton and who afterward won distinction in Provincial affairs. Richard Rush, the third child, was Attorney-General of Pennsylvania, Attorney-General of the United States, Minister to Great Britain, Secretary of the Treasury, Minister to France, and unsuccessful candidate for the vice-presidency. He was married to Catharine Eliza Murray of Maryland, who bore him ten children. Julia Stockton Rush, a grandchild, married John Calvert, a lawyer of Maryland and a descendant of George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. James Rush, the third son of the "signer," became a noted medical authority and a writer, succeeded his father as Treasurer of the U. S. Mint, and endowed the "Ridgway" branch of the Philadelphia library. He was the husband of Phebe Ridgway Rush, for many years a leader of Philadelphia society and one of the most famous women in America. They died childless. Benjamin Rush, the sixth son of the" signer," died unmarried, and Julia the next child, who married Henry Jonathan Williams, a prominent member of the bar, died childless; Samuel Rush, the twelfth child, became a prominent attorney and married Anne Wilmer. The thirteenth child, William Rush, was a physician and married Elizabeth Fox Roberts.

Legacy[edit] Benjamin Rush Elementary School in Redmond, Washington was named by its students for him.[80]

The Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush magnet high school in Philadelphia was established in 2008.

Rush County, Indiana, is named for him as is its county seat, Rushville.[81]

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago is named after Rush.

The eponymous conservative Benjamin Rush Institute is an associate member of the State Policy Network.[82]


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Benjamin Rush, signer of the "Declaration of Independence"'s Timeline

December 24, 1745
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, British Colonial America
July 17, 1777
Cecil County, Maryland, United States
January 1, 1779
August 29, 1780
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
January 7, 1782
Byberry, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
February 14, 1783
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
May 16, 1784
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States