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Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective
Part II. E.S. Cooper in San Francisco

Chapter 10. Founding of Medical Society of the State of California

By participating in the founding of the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association Cooper secured a base of operations from which to organize a State Medical Society. Because of the parochial outlook and instability of the early city and county societies in California, there was no leadership at the state level until Cooper seized the initiative and supplied it. We now have sufficient information about the local societies to enable us to undertake a chronological account of the organization of the State Society.

The San Francisco Medico-Chirurgical Association had been in existence for less than a month when Corresponding Secretary E. S. Cooper requested authorization to address the following historic letter to Dr. Thomas Logan, his counterpart in the Sacramento Medical Society:[1]

San Francisco, 27 August 1855
Thomas N. Logan, MD, Corresponding Secretary
Sacramento Medical Society
Sacramento, California

Dear Sir,
In accordance with a resolution of the San Francisco Medico-Chirurgical Association imposing upon this Corresponding Secretary the duty of addressing the Societies as well as Medical Men of the State where there are no societies yet formed upon the subject of taking the initiatory steps to call a convention for the purpose of organizing a State Medical Society, I now address you.

Our Society does not wish any particular place of (precedence) to dictate in this matter but (wishes) rather that all who may be supposed to feel interested and who are actuated by the right spirit shall stand upon the same footing.

We are asking to meet you here or in Sacramento or if more conducive to the success of the enterprise to go beyond you and join with our brothers in Marysville or any other place so that it may (bring) the greatest good to the project.

It has been proposed here that an effort be made to cause the profession to effect local organizations in Marysville, Stockton, and two or three of the larger towns of the State . . . and that their Corresponding Secretaries fix the time and place of meeting in convention under the sanction of their respective Societies and when thus arranged have the profession throughout the State notified of the same and invited to join by organizing local Societies and sending delegates.

We are in no haste about the matter but would be pleased to join our full efforts to those of our brothers of the State generally in doing what we could to elevate the profession and think a well conducted State association calculated to have much influence in affecting this and are ready to offer our aid at any time when others are willing to give concurrence of action.

If the plan here suggested as an initial step is not thought to be best we are ready to adopt and pursue any other of seeming greater practicability and would rather work under disadvantage than not at all. We are resolved not to be contentious or to weigh individual or local interests when the good of the profession of the State must be opposed to us in the balance but wish rather to contend with all others as to who shall best work and best agree in doing for the good of our beloved profession.

Respectfully yours,
E. S. Cooper
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

After a delay of three months, Dr. Logan of the Sacramento Medical Society responded to Cooper as follows:[2]

Sacramento, 29 November 1855
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

Dear Sir,
On yesterday (was) the first full meeting of our Society since the reception of your communication of September last. I had the pleasure of reading your letter and views respecting the formation of a State Medical Society. The Society appear to think favorably of the subject and have appointed a committee of three to report on Wednesday week at an extra meeting to be called for the special purpose. As Chairman of the Committee I have deemed it best to drop you a line for the purpose of ascertaining whether you have anything more to suggest preliminary to our taking action on the subject.

Yours very respectfully,
Thomas. M. Logan
Corresponding Secretary
Sacramento Medical Society

Cooper, eager to keep negotiations regarding a State Society moving briskly, responded to Logan's encouraging letter of 29 November by dispatching to him the following letter on the very next day.[3]

San Francisco, 30 November 1855
Thomas M. Logan, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
Sacramento Medical Society

Dear Sir,
I was glad to receive your communication acquainting me with the fact of your Society having taken steps calculated to further the project of organizing a State Society which the Medical Profession of California so greatly need. Nothing in my humble opinion would go so far towards elevating Medicine and Surgery and suppressing Quackery as a well organized State Association connected with local Societies all having unanimity of feeling and concurrence of action and composed of working liberal men who consider no efforts of their own as any sacrifice provided the good of the profession is enhanced thereby.

Our Society does not wish to be forward in suggesting places but would be well pleased to listen to and pursue the suggestions of you and others throughout the State and consequently have but little further to offer than contained in my former communication which designed should merely offer some hints for your consideration.

I would remark however that many of State Associations have had their operations much compromised by jealousy growing up between the larger and smaller towns of the State and that San Francisco and Sacramento being the largest cities it might be well to push other places forward pretty well and work under disadvantages ourselves rather than not work at all. It would be according to custom for Sacramento or San Francisco to call a convention to meet at any time and place thought best or this might be done in connection with the two places but if several other towns of the State could be induced to organize and join in the call it might give a more general concurrence of action. However, we are ready to act at any time with others in whatever may be decided on. I think, however, Sacramento would be the best place to hold the convention and would give my vote in favor of that place if agreeable to all others but still would prefer it if agreeable to you to let some two or three of the smaller towns make a choice before insisting on any preference of our own seeing that our two places will no doubt have to use some little exertion to stir up others and it will matter little to us whether others dictate in the matter or ourselves so we reap the benefits of improvement by association.

Dr. McLane of Marysville wrote me some weeks ago that he thought Yuba County would organize soon. Drs. Spencer and Bell of San Jose likewise informed me that an effort was being made to induce them to quicken their efforts a little. I wrote to Hon. Dr. Thomas Kendall of Sonora but have received no answer as yet.

Any communication from you upon this subject will be gladly received at any time and, if requiring it, would be promptly responded to.

Respectfully yours,
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

Two long months now passed before the impatient Cooper was rewarded with the following assurance from Logan of "unanimity of feeling and concurrence of action" with respect to the founding of a State Society:[4]

Sacramento, 3 February 1856
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medical Chirurgical Association

Dear Sir,
At a stated meeting of the Sacramento Medical Society held on 3 February, I was instructed to communicate to you the following Resolution which was unanimously adopted:

Resolved - That we the members of the Sacramento Medical Society and the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Society respectfully invite you (the physician addressed) to meet us in Convention at Sacramento on the 2nd Wednesday (the twelfth) of March 1856 for the purpose of an interchange of opinion respecting the expediency of organizing a State Medical Society.

If this resolution meets the approbation of your Society, it can be addressed as a Circular signed by the respective Corresponding Secretaries (in printed form) through the members of the Legislature now in Session, to every medical man in the State, and a State Society can be organized and a charter obtained before the adjournment of the Legislature.

Prompt concurrent action is therefore respectfully solicited on the part of the Society you represent.

Your obedient Servant,
Thomas M. Logan, M. D.
Corresponding Secretary
Sacramento Medical Society

Logan and his colleagues, by proposing in his letter of 3 February that a convention meet in Sacramento on 12 March 1856 to organize a State Medical Society, acutely accelerated the planning process. Less than six weeks remained for completion of all arrangements.

It was, of course, imperative to inform the State's physicians of the objectives of the Convention as soon as possible, and to assure a substantial attendance that included leaders of the profession. With these requirements in mind, Cooper responded immediately to Logan proposing the following Preamble and Resolution to be printed in a Circular and sent to all physicians:[5]

Preamble and Resolution of Sacramento Medical Society and San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

Whereas - The time has come for medical men of the Pacific Coast to turn their attention to the elevation of the profession and whereas an efficient State Medical Organization would do much towards accomplishing this result, therefore

Resolved - That we the members of the Sacramento Medical Society and of the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Society consider it not presuming too much to take the initiatory steps by inviting the medical men of California generally to meet in convention for the purpose of organizing a State Medical Society and that the Secretaries of our respective Societies be instructed to proceed immediately to that duty.

Cooper also provided Logan with the following list of leading California physicians with the suggestion that they be invited to join in the call for the Convention:

In accordance with the foregoing Preamble and Resolution the undersigned do hereby call a convention to meet in Sacramento on the 2nd Wednesday of March 1856:

CorySan Jose- BaldwinShasta
SpencerSan JoseHon. Dr. KeenPlacerville
BellSan JoseH. J. HammondSan Diego
J. CraneSan JoseJ. S. GriffinLos Angeles
A. N. SaseeSanta Clara-..WallandSanta Barbara
A. B. CaldwellSanta Clara- AyerStockton
W. WarburtonSanta Clara- KerrStockton
B. R. MitchellVallejo- ScrevensMariposa
J. N. RiceMarysville- CarmanNevada
J. T. McLaneMarysvilleD. AustinNevada
R. McDanielsMarysvilleR.C. WyatteCherokee
J. PrissonMarysvilleT. KendallSonora
J. T. FinchMarysvilleJ. WalkerSonora
- McKeeMonterey- George?

We do not know whether any of the above physicians actually joined officially in the call for the Convention as proposed by Cooper for we have no copy of the Circular announcing the Convention. However, Cooper's strategy to solicit their support was sound and consistent with his other diligent efforts to arouse interest in forming local medical societies as well as a State Society. With these objectives in mind, he wrote numerous letters such as the following one to Dr. McLane of Marysville:[6]

San Francisco, 15 February 1856
J. T. McLane, M.D.
Marysville, California

Dear Sir,
As Corresponding Secretary of the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Society and under the direction of the Society I several months since wrote to you in regard to taking the preliminary steps to form a State Medical Society requesting you to use your efforts to procure a local organization in your County in order to be prepared to take an equal part with ourselves and others. Though I received one communication from you upon the subject no notification of your having organized has been given me. The propriety of calling a convention is now being discussed in our Society and in the Sacramento Medical Society.

Have you a Society in your County and if so would you not like to join in the call? This is no local or individual matter but one in which all worthy medical men are on an equal footing.

If you have a Society and wish to join in the call for a convention for the purpose of organizing a State Society please give Dr. Thomas M. Logan, Corresponding Secretary of the Sacramento Medical Society immediate word. I hope if your County cannot act in this work as a Society you will do it individually.

Respectfully yours,
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Franciso County Medico-Chirurgical Society.

It was now just one month before the Convention and much remained to be done to assure efficient transaction of the complex business of organizing a State Society. The urgency is reflected in Logan's next letter to Cooper that addressed politically-sensitive issues:[7]

Sacramento, 13 February 1856
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Society

Dear Sir,
In compliance with your expressed wish I have ascertained from our President and several other influential members of our Society that there can be no objection to the preamble and mode of procedure you propose. I think therefore you can go ahead and calculate upon our hearty cooperation.

Permit me to suggest, however, the impropriety of nominating and publishing the names of a Committee on Credentials before even a temporary organization of the convention. We are perfectly willing that this committee shall consist exclusively of county members, i.e., gentlemen not members of our respective societies, but it may look like assuming too much to select beforehand certain names to the exclusion of others. In order to produce harmony and concert of action we must scrupulously avoid exciting jealousy.

I have added such names to the Committee of Reception as in my judgement are most proper.

In the same perfect confidence permit me to advise you to select from your San Francisco delegation a suitable Gentleman for President - one who has professional and moral force and character to command the respect of the community. Settle this point before you leave and I promise you our support. There are several matters concerning which I am desirous of advising you in propria persona, and therefore would be glad to see you immediately on your arrival here.

I have written this in great haste - my time being at present constantly taken up by professional engagements, chiefly caused by the recent steamboat explosion. If convenient, pray present my regards to Dr. Toland, and invite him in my name to attend the convention.

Hastily and truly yours,
Thomas M. Logan

(Postscript): What think you of Dr. Gray for President? I am not acquainted with him.

Imagine Cooper's chagrin at having the name of Dr. Gray so innocently brought forward by Logan for first President of the State Society. Cooper held his tongue and ignored Logan's question, but vented his annoyance by crossing out the Postscript on Logan's original letter with a sweep of his well-inked pen. There was also another cause for concern in Logan's letter. He asked Cooper to convey his special regards to Dr. Toland. Logan could not know that Toland, like Gray, was counted by Cooper as among his detractors. Now for the first time Cooper began to be apprehensive about the leadership that might emerge to dominate the State Society in which he had invested so much of his own effort.

A week later Cooper heard again from Logan, this time with the good news about arrangements for advertising the Convention.[8]

Sacramento, 21 February 1856
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Society

Dear Sir,
I will send you some of the circulars tomorrow. Perhaps you had better publish immediately in one of your daily papers, that has the largest circulation, the same as we have done. Can you not spare the time to come up here before the convention meets in order to make some preliminary arrangements. I wish to hold a consultation with you, Dr. Morse, and one or two other of our most influential confreres respecting our County Hospital, a Medical Journal and a Medical School, as well as the organization of the Convention.

In great haste,

It was clear from Logan's letter of February twenty-first that preparations for the Convention were reaching their final phase. Whether Cooper went to Sacramento for a pre-Convention conference with Logan and Morse, we do not know. That the Sacramento group were considering "a Medical School" must have aroused his concern, but we have no evidence that they made a serious move in that direction.

For his part, Cooper had been busy developing an appropriate response to Logan's magnanimous suggestion in his letter of February thirteenth that the San Francisco delegation to the Convention agree in advance to nominate one of their number as the first President of the State Society, with the assurance that the candidate would receive the support of the Sacramento Society. Given the strained relations among San Francisco's three medical societies, Cooper was faced with a delicate task. In a letter to Logan dated February twenty-third, he proposed a solution that took the high ground for the Medico-Chirurgical Association, showed deference to the "seniority" of the San Francisco Medical Society, and at the same time took a supercilious dig at the Society. The letter, Cooper-style, is fraught with pious resolutions:[9]

San Francisco, 23 February 1856
Thomas M. Logan, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
Sacramento Medical Society

Dear Sir,
The proposition in your private communication to me viz that the San Francisco delegation to the Medical Convention should select one of its members for President of the State Society when formed with the promise of support of the Sacramento Medical Society (which by the way would be the equivalent to an election) shows too much liberality to pass unnoticed. I have therefore taken the liberty of placing it before our Society which authorizes me to send you the following resolutions as an official reply.

Resolved that the liberality of the members of the Sacramento Medical Society argues well for the future harmony and prosperity of the State Medical Society that may be formed under their auspices.

Resolved that the members of the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association are willing to labor for the good of the profession and await their reward through its elevation.

Resolved that we should under all circumstances select with reluctance one of our own members to be the recipient of the chief honors of the State Medical Society and never unless the good of the Society unquestionably demanded it.

Resolved that we will use our combined influence in favor of anyone of seven delegates whom the San Francisco Medical Society may send to the convention if they (the delegates) will make a selection among themselves first.

Resolved that we do not offer this as a premium for delegates of that Society but because we regret its apparent apathy towards a matter equally important to all and because we desire to let no opportunity of promoting universal fraternity among the regular medical (men) of California pass unimproved.

Resolved that whatever may be the manner in which this proposition to fraternize is received we know our motives to be praiseworthy and shall regard that Society according to (their) devotion to the true interests and dignity of the profession regardless of party prejudices and other emotional influences that may have unfortunately disturbed the harmony not to say prosperity of medical men in this city in times gone by.

Resolved that a copy of these resolution be sent to the San Francisco Medical Society in order to show the members that we are not unmindful of the respect due to a Senior Association.

E.S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

In accordance with the final resolution, Cooper sent a copy of his letter of February twenty-third to Dr. W. P. Gibbons, Henry Gibbons' brother and Corresponding Secretary of the San Francisco Medical Society, with the following covering note:[10]

San Francisco, 23 February 1856
W. P. Gibbons, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco Medical Society

Dear Sir,
At a regular meeting of the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association held 22 February 1856 I was instructed to forward you a copy of the following official communication to Dr. Thomas M. Logan of Sacramento.

Its contents will I doubt not explain sufficiently the objects for which it is sent your association.

Permit me to express a hope that an active effect to promote unanimity of feeling and concurrence of action among the regular members of the profession in San Francisco so much to be desired by all honorable medical men may mark the progress of our two associations in future and that unitedly we may turn our faces against quackery which like a strong tide has hitherto overflown our State.

Respectfully yours,
E. S. Cooper, M.D.
Corresponding Secretary
San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association

In view of the tone of Cooper's letters to Logan and Gibbons, one would not expect a cordial response from the San Francisco Medical Society. As far as we can determine there was no formal response at all, and the selection of the first President of the State Medical Society took place appropriately on the floor of the Convention, where we will now join Cooper, Logan et al.[11]

Proceedings of Convention and First Meeting of California State Medical Society, 12-14 March 1856

The Convention called to form the first State Medical Society in California assembled in Pioneer Hall in Sacramento on Wednesday, 12 March 1856, at three P.M. Seventy-six medical men were present, representing 16 Counties.

The largest delegation, twenty-eight in all, came from Sacramento, prominent among them being Drs. Logan and Morse. There were thirteen delegates from San Francisco including Drs. Bowie, Cole, Cooper, Henry Gibbons, Gray and Stout.

The Convention was called to order by Dr. Houghton, President of the Sacramento Medical Society and Dr. Morse was, on nomination, promptly elected temporary Chairman of the Convention. With Dr. Morse presiding, permanent officers of the Convention were nominated by a committee composed of one member from each County delegation. Dr. Benjamin F. Keene of Placerville in El Dorado County was elected President. Dr. Keene, a dignified and highly respected physician from the heart of the gold country was an admirable choice for the presidency, at one stroke gaining a universally acceptable presiding officer and avoiding the political issues surrounding the selection of a candidate from San Francisco. Dr. Keene appointed Dr. Gibbons Chairman of a Committee on Constitution and By-Laws and the Convention adjourned for the day.

The following morning Dr. Gibbons for his Committee submitted a draft Constitution and By-Laws for government of the California State Medical Society, the draft being based on principles and procedures recommended by the American Medical Association. After some minor amendments, the Constitution, By-Laws and Code of Ethics were adopted as a whole.

Selection of officers for the ensuing year now being in order, the following were duly elected:

  • B.F. Keene, El Dorado President
  • E.S. Cooper, San Francisco First Vice President
  • T.S. Logan, Sacramento Corresponding Secretary

As the second day of the Convention drew to a close, Dr. Augustus J. Spencer of San Jose rose to offer the following resolution:

Resolved, That while this Society views with commending pride the zeal and devotion of medical men to foster the interests, augment the learning, and enhance the usefulness of our liberal profession, it entertains a sovereign contempt for that species of professional mountebankery that seeks to secure public favor and pecuniary advantage, by foisting upon public attention, through newspapers and otherwise, the peculiar qualifications of their author to treat particular diseases, either in the department of medicine or surgery.

Notwithstanding that advertising was strongly condemned as "derogatory to the dignity of the profession" by the Code of Ethics of the American Medical Association just adopted by the State Society, disapproval of the practice was sufficiently intense among the delegates that Spencer's additional resolution was adopted unanimously. Cooper was yet to realize the implications for him of this evidence of the delegates' uncompromising position on the subject.

The third and final day of the Convention was devoted to various items, among which the following are the most noteworthy.

Dr. Logan reported the recommendation of the Committee on a Medical Journal that the State Medical Society support the publication of a medical journal to be edited by Dr. Morse. The recommendation was approved and Dr. Morse became editor of the California State Medical Journal which he agreed to publish as a quarterly provided two hundred subscribers could be obtained at the rate of five dollars each per annum. The first issue of the Journal was for the month of July 1856 and included the Minutes and Proceedings of the Convention and First Meeting of the Medical Society of the State of California. However, Morse was able to publish only three more issues (October 1856, January 1857 and April 1857) and was then forced by lack of funds from subscribers to discontinue this valuable journal.

As he previously had done at the Illinois State Medical Society, Cooper seized the opportunity once more to call for liberalization of laws regarding anatomical dissection. He introduced the following preamble and resolutions that were referred to the Committee on Legislation (where they died):

Whereas, The laws of our State render surgeons obnoxious to prosecution and liable to heavy damages if they operate wrongfully through ignorance, at the same time making no adequate legal provision for obtaining knowledge of the human system; therefore, be it

Resolved, That in view of the good of the profession as well as of the community, dissections should be legalized under all proper restrictions.

Resolved, That a committee of five (5) be appointed to memorialize the Legislature upon the subject.

Cooper's Scientific Paper

On motion of Dr. Dustin, the delegate from Nevada County, Cooper was invited to deliver the only scientific paper of the meeting. He chose to report the following experiments on ligation of the abdominal aorta in dogs.

As already mentioned, ligation of major vessels, usually for aneurysm or trauma, was among the "capital" operations of the day. The aorta, being the largest vessel of all, was the Mount Everest of vascular surgery. No patient had ever survived ligation of the abdominal aorta. Three such cases were described by Pancoast in his Treatise on Operative Surgery[12]. The causes of death were not specified, but it had always been assumed (but not proven) that the most likely complications of aortic ligation would be gangrene of the lower extremities, peritonitis and hemorrhage.

After the attention of the profession was called to this subject, more than forty patients were reported to have survived gradual obliteration of the abdominal aorta by tumor or other cause. Survival in these cases was thought to be due to maintenance of circulation through development of collateral vessels that carried blood around the point of obstruction.

In December 1855 Cooper began a series of experiments on dogs to determine the cause of death in acute occlusion of the abdominal aorta and to devise a method to prevent it. Cooper's animals all died shortly after ligation of the vessel. By post mortem examination he determined for the first time that the cause of death in dogs under these circumstances was intense engorgement of the proximal arterial circulation above the ligation as well as the heart. This he attributed to cutting off nearly one half the vascular system, thus confining the arterial blood to a markedly reduced circulation.

He then decided to induce slow obliteration of the aorta, as occurred in the surviving human cases, so that collateral circulation would have time to develop. He invented an instrument that encircled the aorta and came out through the wound. The instrument could then be tightened from the outside so as to obstruct the aorta by degrees rather than acutely. By this procedure, he diminished the circulation in the vessel about one-half immediately, and on the seventh day obstructed it completely. The animal lived for four days with the aorta completely closed before dying from hemorrhage during the fourth night, presumably from having violently displaced the instrument with its teeth. Such an accident would not occur in a human patient. Post mortem examination showed that collateral circulation had already begun to develop around the dog's obstructed aorta and would apparently have sustained a permanent recovery had not the hemorrhage supervened.[13]

Cooper's animal studies demonstrated uncommon initiative and indicated that he was making productive use of the surgical laboratory he had established. He was an enthusiastic teacher, normally involving others in his projects. For example, Drs. Beverly Cole and C. A. Kirkpatrick, among others, assisted Cooper in the aortic ligation experiments. Cooper never attempted to ligate the abdominal aorta in a patient but his experiments suggested a method of accomplishing the feat with survival. For years to come no other surgeon on the Pacific Coast was to address surgical questions in the laboratory with the combined objective of research and education. Meanwhile Cooper was developing a small but loyal group of physicians who recognized in him the genuine devotion to teaching and investigation that distinguished him from the critics who ridiculed his efforts.

Cooper's paper was very well received by the members of the State Society who voted to request him to report further on his experiments at the next meeting.


When the Convention and first meeting of the State Medical Society adjourned on 14 March 1856, all concerned had reason to be gratified. From Cooper's original letter to Logan on 27 August 1855 proposing organization of a State Society to the opening of the Convention in Sacramento on 12 March 1856, only six and a half months had elapsed. Cooper and the San Francisco County Medico-Chirurgical Association initiated and aroused wide professional interest in the proposal, while Logan and the Sacramento Medical Society sponsored and organized the Convention with consummate finesse. When the delegates assembled in Sacramento, the order of business was so well managed by the host Society that by the end of the second day the California State Medical Society had been founded, Constitution and By-Laws adopted, and officers for the ensuing year elected.

Cooper's contribution to the process was appropriately recognized by his election as First Vice President. Nevertheless, he felt a tinge of disappointment at not being named President. Among his papers there is the undated draft of an address obviously prepared for delivery when taking high office in the State Society. In the draft, Cooper states the objects and advantages of the new Society and includes the following high-minded advice to his enemies from San Francisco whom he suspected would try to infiltrate the organization.[14]

The legitimate objects of our Association are not to meet as a set of politicians in convention to try who can secure the greatest advantage over his opponents, but we should meet and try who can contribute the most largely to the general fund of practical knowledge by which the sphere of usefulness of all may be widened. . .

To the energetic and worthy medical men throughout the State therefore we say come and join us. We shall increase your energies. To the enthusiastic we say come. It shall be our delight to make you our companion; and to the ambitious we say come, our association is calculated to enkindle in your breast a burning desire to win the highest honors of our profession, but at the same time to chasten your ambition by assisting you in cultivating a sacred regard for the rights and feeling of all deserving Medical Men.

The Minutes of the first meeting of the State Society contain not the slightest hint that the proceedings were marred by contention of any kind. However, Cooper was uneasy to find that Dr. Gray, with whom he was at odds over the Travers case, and Dr. Stout, Gray's fellow member from the despised Pathological Society, were both present and taking an active part in the parliamentary maneuvering. Also present was a third member of the Pathological Society, Dr. J. P. Whitney, whom Cooper was later to accuse of making slanderous remarks about him. Imagine Cooper's annoyance when Drs. Gray, Stout and Whitney were all three elected to the seven-member Board of Censors of the State Society for the ensuing year.

Could this mean that members of the Pathological Society, who prior to the Convention had shown no interest in a State Society, were now positioning themselves to control the new organization in order to attack him in the state-wide forum he had worked so hard to create? The following incident during the Convention led Cooper to believe that such an intrigue was indeed afoot. When his name was proposed for some inferior office in the State Society, Stout rose to move a change in the mode of procedure, urging as the reason that otherwise "some member from San Francisco might obtain office who was not qualified." To the suspicious Cooper, that "some member from San Francisco" could be none other than himself. His suspicion was justified for Stout later confirmed that he had attempted to discredit Cooper at the first meeting of the State Society.[15]

With the relations between Cooper and the Pathological Society in a delicate state at the end of the Convention, it is necessary temporarily to leave the field of petty medical skirmishing and take note of the more lethal conflict about to erupt in the public sector - the murder of James King of William and revival of the Vigilance Committee.


  1. Correspondence 1855 - Box 1, Folder 2, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  2. Correspondence 1855 - Box 1, Folder 2, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  3. Correspondence 1855 - Box 1, Folder 2, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  4. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  5. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library. The Preamble and Resolution and a mailing list of prominent physicians, in Cooper's handwriting, were found among his papers. Although no letter of transmission from Cooper to Logan was present, Logan's letter to Cooper of 13 February 1856 acknowledges that he received and concurred with Cooper's Preamble
  6. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  7. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  8. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  9. Folder: Correspondence 1856 (CHSL Box #1. Folder #3), File of California Historical Society Library, E. S. Cooper Collection, Lane Medical Archives, Stanford
  10. Correspondence 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers - MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  11. Arthur B. Stout et al, Committee on Publications, "Minutes and Proceedings of the Convention and of the Medical Society of the State of California, Held in Sacramento, March, 1856," California State Medical Journal 1 (Jul 1856): 4-34 Lane Library catalog record
  12. Joseph Pancoast , A Treatise on Operative Surgery (Philadelphia: A. Hart, late Cary and Hart, 1852), pp. 68-69 Lane Library catalog record
  13. Elias S. Cooper , "Remarks upon the practicability of obliterating the abdominal aorta by gradual pressure, illustrated by vivisections," California State Medical Journal (Jul 1856): 69-72 Lane Library catalog record
  14. Correspondence, 1856 - Box 1, Folder 3, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers – MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library
  15. Correspondence - No Date, Elias Samuel Cooper Papers – MS 458, California Historical Society, North Baker Research Library