In honor of Black Record Month: Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta, to start with Black surgeon in Civil War

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Dr. Alexander Thomas Augusta confronted numerous problems getting the 1st Black surgeon commissioned in the Union Army through the Civil War.  He was finally regarded for his merits and was the very first Black officer-rank soldier to be buried at Arlington Cemetery. 

In spite of remaining named senior surgeon at Camp Stanton in Maryland in February 1864, throughout the Civil War, Augusta continue to faced racism from healthcare colleagues he worked with supporting troopers all through the war, according to Dr. Heather Butts, a Harvard alumnus who researched community wellness.  Butts is the Director of the Honors Faculty at Extended Island University, Brookville, New York, and wrote the e book “African American Medication in Washington, D.C.: Therapeutic the Funds For the duration of the Civil War Era,” which depicted the surgeon’s existence. 

Image of Alexander Thomas Augusta

Impression of Alexander Thomas Augusta

 “Some of the white surgeons that claimed to Augusta wrote to President Lincoln informing him of their displeasure at acquiring to report to Augusta. They asked for ‘most respectfully nonetheless earnestly’ that this ‘unexpected, strange and most unpleasant romance in which we have been placed’ arrive to an conclude.” Their letter also said: 

“‘But we cannot … willingly compromise what we consider … correct self-respect, nor do we deem that the passions of possibly the country or of the coloured race can need this of us.’ Dr. Augusta was transferred out of Camp Stanton,” Dr. Butts wrote in a assertion to WHD News.  

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According to a printed report in the Countrywide Health care Affiliation, Dr. Augusta was born a free of charge person in 1825, in Norfolk, Va. He realized to read secretly and moved to Baltimore, Md., exactly where he analyzed drugs with tutors, considering that it was against the legislation to train folks of colour, the article said.  

The short article recounted how Augusta labored with Dr. William Gibson of the University of Pennsylvania but was denied admittance to the university’s healthcare university. He at some point went to Canada, exactly where he acquired his bachelor of drugs degree, with complete honors, from Trinity Healthcare Higher education of the University of Toronto in 1856. 

Augusta returned to the states and wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln requesting to be appointed as a surgeon for just one of the black regiments fashioned by the Union Military. He was granted a surgeon’s fee in the Union Military in 1863, in accordance to the posting. 

Butts described how this preeminent surgeon faced and triumphed in excess of the bigotry. “Via it all, he faced this adversity in a way that authorized him to give back again to his sufferers, and culture,” Dr. Butts told WHD News.  

A Bureau agent stands between a group of whites and a group of freedmen. Harper's Weekly, July 25, 1868.

A Bureau agent stands concerning a group of whites and a team of freedmen. Harper’s Weekly, July 25, 1868.

While touring to testify in a court docket-martial on February 1, 1864, Augusta was delayed thanks to a racially-billed incident on a trolley motor vehicle incident. In accordance to Butts, Augusta tried to enter the trolley but was advised he had to trip on the front of the car or truck considering that it was from the regulations for coloured persons to journey inside of. The surgeon was kicked off the trolley when he refused to trip outdoors the auto and had to wander to the courthouse, where he was late to the hearing. 

Sumner, c. 1860 United States Senator from Massachusetts

Sumner, c. 1860 United States Senator from Massachusetts

The incident caught the awareness of Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts who served pass a resolution before Congress that resulted in the desegregation of trolley autos in Washington, D.C. in the 1860s. 

Dr. Augusta not only assisted soldiers recover on the entrance lines all through the Civil War, but also served pave the path for Black People pursuing careers in the medical industry. In 1868 Augusta was the 1st African American to be appointed to the college of Howard University and the initially to any professional medical college or university in the United States.  

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“My hope is that there will be several far more tales and books and content about Dr. Augusta and the other courageous African American surgeons who served during the war, and that their stories and their legacy will get the focus they so richly have earned,” Dr. Butts informed WHD News.  

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