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History of the Medical School

"Armo virumque cano...."

HISTORY is but a record of the development of man's soul and character.  Accordingly, then, as he marches forward, or falters backward under the storms and buffeting torrents of life, so shall his record be one of achievement and progress or one of despair and utter helplessness.  The words of the immortal Mark Anthony still live with us:  
    
"The evil that men do lives after them;     
The good is oft interred with their bones....."

To delve into the life and existence of any institution may have to bring to light some skeleton that has long lain hidden within the family closet, thus defeating the very purpose for which this review is intended. Therefore, it is our aim not to write a history, but to portray as briefly as possible our accomplishments and triumphs and to add another paen of praise to the name and memory of our benefactors.
 
If perchance some noteworthy deed, event or person should be allowed to pass by unheralded and unsung, let us remember that this review is like the painter's palette.  The brushes pass lightly over the painted canvass bringing into bolder relief certain dominant features and accentuating certain nuances.
 
Howard University Medical School has always been and still is an integral and functional unit of the University.

At its inception, the idea was the founding of a school to train ministers of the gospel.  However, at the suggestion of Dr. Silas Loomis, there were included, in the curriculum, courses in anatomy and physiology in their relation to medicine.  Thus we find a theological school, unique in its curriculum.

The charter granted March 2, 1867, by Congress provided for the establishment of the theological and normal departments, departments of law, medicine, and of agriculture, also preparatory and collegiate departments.

A committee was forthwith appointed to prepare a plan for the organization of the Medical Department.  The report of this committee was adopted April 13, 1867, and reads in part as follows:  "The Medical Department of Howard University shall consist of a Medical School, a Pharmaceutical School, and a General Hospital.  The professors in the

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several schools, together with the surgeons and physicians of Hospital shall constitute the faculty and shall special charge of the Medical Department.  They shall in joint meeting elect a deacon and secretary annually.  The dean, together with the members of the faculty, sign all diplomas.  The dean shall preside at all meetings of the Medical faculty in the absence of the president of the university, and shall be required to make a full annual report to the Board of Trustees of the workings of the Medical Department."

"The Medical School. The school shall consist of at least nine professorships, a Professor of Pathology and the Principles and Practice of Medicine; a Professor of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children; a Professor of Organic and Physiological Chemistry; a Professor of Medical Jurisprudence and Hygiene; a Professor of Materia Medica and Therapeutics; a Professor of Chemistry and Toxicology; a Professor of Descriptive and Surgical Anatomy, and shall have a Demonstrator of Anatomy, and a janitor...."
 
"Requirements for the degree of M.D. The candidate must be over 21 years of age an present testimonials of a good moral character.  He must present satisfactory evidence that he has studied medicine for three years with a physician and surgeon duly authored to practice his profession.  He must have attended three courses of lectures (lasting three years), the last of which must have been at Howard University.  He must have passed a satisfactory examination at the close of each course of lectures and have submitted an acceptable thesis in his own handwriting."

The Pharmaceutical School was also organized.
  
The General Hospital consisted of surgical, medical, and obstetrical wards and a dispensary.
  
On May 7, 1867, Dr. Silas L. Loomis was elected dean.

Opening exercises were held on November 5, 1867, at 5 p.m., in the First Congregational Church, Tenth and G streets, northwest, with the president of the university, Rev. Dr. Byron Sunderland, presiding. The subject of Dr. Loomis' address was an exposition of the principles on which the Medical Department of Howard University was founded, namely, the opening of the study of the science of medicine to all persons without distinction of sex or race.  Thus we find, that students, both white and colored (mostly white), and of both sexes were admitted to the courses of lectures.  During the course of his introductory address, Dr, L. C. Loomis said: "Upon the organization of the Medical Department, it was the purpose of the faculty to place it, in respect to lecture rooms, apparatus, and all other appliances, upon a par with the most advanced medical schools of the day..."  This policy has been followed ever sine that day.

Lectures began as announced at the hour 5:30 p.m., and were delivered regularly during the winter months of 1868-69.   
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