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Alyn Brodsky
Alyn Brodsky
Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician
ISBN: 0312309112
Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician
—from the publisher's website

The only full biography of Benjamin Rush, an extraordinary Founding Father and America's leading physician of the Colonial era

While Benjamin Rush appears often and meaningfully in biographies about John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, this legendary man is presented as little more than a historical footnote. Yet, he was a propelling force in what culminated in the Declaration of Independence, to which he was a cosigner.

Rush was an early agitator for independence, a member of the First Continental Congress, and one of the leading surgeons of the Continental Army during the early phase of the American Revolution. He was an constant and indefatigable adviser to the foremost figures of the American Revolution, notably George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams.

Even if he had not played a major role in our country's creation, Rush would have left his mark in history as an eminent physician and a foremost social reformer in such areas as medical teaching, treatment of the mentally ill (he is considered the Father of American Psychiatry), international prevention of yellow fever, establishment of public schools, implementation of improved education for women, and much more.

For readers of well-written biographies, Brodsky has illuminated the life of one of America's great and overlooked revolutionaries.

Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician
Program Air Date: July 4, 2004

BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Alyn Brodsky, author of "Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician," what`s the best thing about this man, in your opinion?
ALYN BRODSKY, AUTHOR, "BENJAMIN RUSH: PATRIOT AND PHYSICIAN": The best thing about this man is that he was a pivotal person in the history of the country, in the starting of the revolution and in medicine and in social reform. The worst thing is that he`s been reduced to a footnote in history.
LAMB: Why?
BRODSKY: I don`t know why. It`s just that the concentration seems to be on the top patriots -- Adams, Jefferson, which -- justifiably so -- Benjamin Franklin, who to me was a God, one of the two great Renaissance men our country -- one of the two only Renaissance men. Some people claim that it was his run-in with George Washington, but I don`t believe that for a minute. I don`t believe that for a minute. Some -- even the medical books tend to ignore him. And he made fantastic strides.

He`s the father of American psychiatry. He cleaned up the Materia Medica (ph). He was the greatest teacher, medical teacher, in the post-war era. Every doctor on both sides down to the American Civil War were either students of Rush or students of Rush`s students. He made phenomenal social reforms. He`s the father of penal reform. He was the one who said, you know, Don`t treat criminals -- lock them away like the witches or something. If they can be redeemed, they should be redeemed. But the greatest contribution was in psychiatry because up to that point, if anybody was ill, they just assumed, Well, you know, just forget about him. He said, Look, psychiatric problems can be organic in origin, as well as psychological in origin.
LAMB: Where was he from? Where`d he live.
BRODSKY: Philadelphia. He was born in Bybury (ph) Township, about 12 miles outside of Philadelphia.
LAMB: What year?
BRODSKY: In 17 -- I think around 1756. I`m bad on -- I think around 1756.
LAMB: How long did he live?
BRODSKY: He lived until -- he lived about -- he lived until 1812, I believe. I`m bad at dates because I studied under a great profess who said, Don`t worry about date, worry about the people.
LAMB: I think I remember that he lived about -- close to 68 years, right?
BRODSKY: Yes. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right. Right.
LAMB: So how big was he?
BRODSKY: How tall or...
BRODSKY: We don`t know because there`s only a couple of paintings that survived. He was a little -- yes. He was a little bit of probably above average, just ordinary looking. His wife thought he was handsome. And of course, they had a very, very happy marriage. His wife`s father, incidentally, signed the Declaration of Independence. So here`s the only instance of a father-in-law and a son-in-law both signing the Declaration of Independence.
LAMB: Now, what year would -- I mean, obviously -- what year, 1776?
BRODSKY: Right. Right. Right.
LAMB: They signed it. And what were the circumstances that Benjamin Rush and his -- was he his father-in-law yet?
LAMB: Talking about Richard Stockton.
BRODSKY: Yes. Yes. He was the man who brought the College of New Jersey from Newark down and changed the name because -- the reason they did that is he -- first of all, he had property in Princeton. He was the wealthiest man in the state. And also, the colonials did not want to go to any university, any college that had the name of another state, you know? And of course, although it did not become known officially as Princeton until in the 1890s, it was Princeton. It was also known as Old Nassau. And that, of course, was from William III, who was the prince of Nassau, who overthrew his father-in-law/uncle when the British wanted a Protestant succession after the death -- after the death -- they didn`t want another Catholic king because James had converted, and in his second marriage, his sons were Catholic. And the -- and they said, No, we don`t want that.
LAMB: To go back to the Declaration of Independence...
LAMB: ... how was it that both Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush...
BRODSKY: Just because they happened to be in the Second Continental Congress at that time. That`s why, of all the signers of the -- I don`t think there are five people in the country that can name half the signers. I couldn`t. They just happened to be there at the right time. But his fame is not so much that he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence -- one thing that`s not realized is that Pennsylvania did not want to join in the Revolution. They did not want separation. As a matter of fact, when the first Continental Congress was called, most of the delegates came down with the idea not for separation but for reconciliation. This was especially true -- Georgia didn`t even send a delegate. This was particularly true in Pennsylvania.

Now, Pennsylvania was the largest colony. It was the wealthiest colony. And it was the most perfectly situated, between the North and the South. And also, it dragged along New Jersey and Maryland. And the theory was if Pennsylvania did not join in the fight, there would be no revolution. There would not have been a revolution because the British can cut off the North from the South.

And he said -- when it got to the point where they realized that there would be no reconciliation -- you see, the point is that the colonials figured that their loyalty was to the king, not to parliament. If the king had realized that and had surrounded himself with intelligent advisers and people like William Pitt, who said, Let`s not treat Americans like bastards, treat them like our brothers -- but of course, he was thrown out of the House of Commons when he went into the House of Lords as the Earl of Chatham. So there were even people in England who said, Yes, let`s give them separation.
LAMB: Would we have had Thomas Paine`s "Common Sense" without Benjamin Rush?
BRODSKY: We would have had something. God only knows what, and he`s not telling, because Benjamin Rush -- Thomas Paine was a muckraker, but I mean that in a complimentary sense. He had a very weird life. I mean, his life was a total mess before he got here.
LAMB: From Great Britain.
BRODSKY: Yes. Yes. But Benjamin Rush encouraged him, ideated (ph) him. In other words, he used Rush as a sounding board. Rush even suggested the name "Common Sense," and Rush arranged for it to be printed.
LAMB: Are the figures -- do you believe the figures are 2.5 million people in the United States then, before it was the United States, and that 500,000 copies of "Common Sense" sold back then?
BRODSKY: That may be a little pealing. I don`t know, because it`s -- I don`t know if the presses can turn out that many copies, you know.
LAMB: What role did "Common Sense" play in the whole revolution?
BRODSKY: Oh, that -- that was the thing that convinced those that were sitting on the fence, Yes, we cannot get reconciliation with England, so we have no choice. It was a Hobson`s choice.
LAMB: How did he influence Thomas Paine, then, to write it or to publish it or...
BRODSKY: Just with his ideas on the idea of -- of -- that the colonials wanted separation because they couldn`t get reconciliation. And he was right, but the point is that he was, like, helping to agitate Thomas Paine, to an extent. But Thomas Paine had his ideas. Thomas Paine was a man of the people. And it`s not important that he -- that Rush gave him the title, but he had it printed. Thomas Paine couldn`t even get it printed.
LAMB: And Thomas Paine was, according to your book, 37 years old when this...
BRODSKY: Right. Right. Right.
LAMB: Rush would have been 30-something.
BRODSKY: Yes, he was...
LAMB: I think it was 1846 when he was born.
BRODSKY: Right. Right, `46. Right . Right. Yes. He was -- they were all young -- a lot of people don`t realize that -- these titans. And this was a period where we had a coming together of genius that I don`t think we`ll ever see again. They were all young, with the exception of Benjamin Franklin, who was the Nestor (ph) of the revolution.
LAMB: You divide up in your book the types of colonies, the 13 colonies.
LAMB: And you have proprietary, corporate and royal.
LAMB: The proprietary colonies were Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware.
BRODSKY: Yes. That`s where they were given to -- they were given to a specific person, and then the governorship and the power passed on, like, almost through royal descent.
LAMB: Given by -- by the king?
BRODSKY: By the crown, yes. Yes. But they were awarded. Now, William Penn was awarded what became Pennsylvania.
LAMB: And then you say there`s the corporate colonies, which was Rhode Island and Connecticut.
LAMB: What were those?
BRODSKY: The corporate colonies is where the -- the -- I think those were the ones where the British Board of Trade gave the OK for them to do what they wanted to do, to elect their own governors and their own assemblies and everything.
LAMB: Then you say there were the royal colonies, which were...
BRODSKY: Yes. The royal colonies...
LAMB: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, New York.
BRODSKY: They were granted by the monarch. They were granted by the monarch and were...
LAMB: Not to an individual?
BRODSKY: No. No. They were granted by the monarch and allowed to elect their own governor and assembly, subject to London`s wishes.
LAMB: How`d you get interested in Benjamin Rush, in the first place?
BRODSKY: The same way that I get interested in anybody that I`ve written about. I don`t like to write about people that I -- that have been done too much. I believe in the Carlisle (ph) theory that in order to learn about a person, you have to write his biography, which is true. And I did that with a number of people. I`ve done it with my other books.
LAMB: Which were?
BRODSKY: Well, like Grover Cleveland and -- who was not appreciated, and I wanted him to be appreciated. Fiorello La Guardia, who was the greatest mayor this country ever had. Then I have a couple of other books that are in -- you know, my agent is trying to place now. One is Lili`uokalani, the queen of Hawaii, because it was the overthrow of the Hawaiian government by 13 missionaries. And then the Prophet Jeremiah, who`s one of my four gods, who`s the most important man of antiquity, so far as I`m concerned.
LAMB: Isn`t Jeremiah mentioned in your book on Benjamin Rush?
BRODSKY: No, no, no. No, no, no.
LAMB: I thought I read that. Well, go back to why Benjamin...
BRODSKY: Yes, now, Benjamin Rush -- I had seen Benjamin Rush mentioned in the biographies of Adams and Jefferson and Washington and all these people. And all I knew about him was, well, he was a doctor, and he seemed to be around in the middle of things. But what was his story? And I knew that he had signed the Declaration of Independence because I read his name on it. I said, There`s something about this man that I should know more about, because he was very, very close to Thomas Jefferson and very, very close to Adams. Adams was his closest friend. As a matter of fact, he was the one that brought Adams and Jefferson back together after that big split. And thank God he did that.

And there was something about medicine. And I started -- I said, I want to know about this guy. And I started researching him. I say, My God, no -- I`m learning things I never knew, and I`m a historian. And I kept asking people. They never heard of him. I said, This man is not being given his due.

Now, he was the one who helped push Pennsylvania to join in the revolution because they did not want to because the establishment in Pennsylvania was Quaker, and the Quakers believe that, Yes, OK, separation from England may be all right, but it must be a divine command. And Rush was one of these people who believed that God helps those who help themselves. In addition to which, the power structure also included the Episcopalians, and they hated him because he was a Presbyterian.
LAMB: But you said he changed religions four times.
BRODSKY: Well, he changed four or five time, yes. He was basically, if you want to -- he was a -- he was a very eclectic man, when it came to religion, and he had no hatreds. He said, As long as you believe in the deity, so on and so forth. But at that point, he was a new -- what was known as the New Presbyterian. They were getting far, far away from Calvinism. And he just could not buy that Calvinism.
LAMB: So how did you go about finding out about Benjamin Rush?
BRODSKY: Well, I read a couple of earlier biographies and treatises. I did some research at the Philadelphia -- at the Philosophical Society and Historical Society. And fortunately, not only is his -- are his memoirs available through interlibrary loan, but most of his letters are. And just reading his letters, you get the story. The man wrote a thousand -- well, of course, everybody wrote letters in those days. It was the days before the telephone. You don`t know where they found time to do it. Plus, they had to write them twice, once in rough and then recopy it. And with all he did, he wrote literally thousands of letters. Thousands. And of course, there are letters that are probably lost, just like there is music of Mozart that is probably lost that, you know, we`ll never know about.
LAMB: So when was the last biography written about Benjamin Rush?
BRODSKY: The last was done about 30 years ago, I believe.
LAMB: Is this the Binger...
BRODSKY: Was it -- I think it was the other one. Not Binger. Binger was earlier. It begins with an A. I forget his name. He did it in two volumes.
LAMB: Was it tough to get somebody to publish this book?
BRODSKY: No. No. No, as a matter of fact, after I did the La Guardia book, my editor said, How about a book on Benjamin Franklin? I said no. I love Benjamin Franklin, but that`s been done to death. Plus, there were some excellent Benjamin Franklin books just coming out on the market.
LAMB: There`ve been about four in the last couple months.
BRODSKY: Yes. Including one I thought was brilliant. I forget the author`s name, but it was short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize.
LAMB: Walter Isaacson?
BRODSKY: Yes, yes, yes. Then he said, How about Adam Smith? I`d like to see a book on Adam Smith. I said, Well, you`re not going to see it from me because my mind clouds over when it comes to economics.

And then I came up with the idea of Benjamin Rush, and I suggested it to my agent, and he -- my agent is one of these people who say, Write what you want to write, and then let me worry about selling it.
LAMB: Let`s go to that -- his life. You say he was born in Pennsylvania. Where was he educated?
BRODSKY: He was educated in Pennsylvania and then at Princeton. He graduated Princeton at the age of 15. And then he went to Edinburgh for his medical -- to complete his medical education. Of course, the University of Edinburgh was the finest medical school in the world. And there he came under the influence of Dr. Cullen (ph), who was the greatest influence on medicine because Dr. Cullen was one of these people who said, We`ve passed the age of Galen, who was the first physician. We`ve got to keep up with the tide. We cannot let it stand still. We have to seek improvement, you know, in medicine. And this greatly influenced Rush.
LAMB: How long did he stay at Edinburgh?
BRODSKY: He stayed in Edinburgh a couple of years. He stayed on an added year to take -- to retake courses, certain courses. Also, he studied chemistry under -- Chemistry was his -- his discipline.
LAMB: What were his parents like?
BRODSKY: Well, his father had died fairly young. They were Quakers. And when his father died, his mother -- his father was a gunsmith. His mother switched over to the New Light (ph) Presbyterian, as opposed to the Old Light Presbyterian. The New Lights were the more advanced. There was this schism. And She ran a grocery store and a gun shop.
LAMB: How many brothers and sisters did he have?
BRODSKY: He had -- the one brother who survived who became a very famous attorney. A couple died. Children always died in those days. And two sisters survived, whom he helped support because they had children and then their husbands died or divorced and they remarried. So he was supporting everybody.
LAMB: So you say he went to Edinburgh. And then how much time did he spend in London?
BRODSKY: London he only spent a few months, but it was profitable few months because Benjamin Franklin took him under his wing.
LAMB: How do you get to know somebody like Benjamin Franklin in those days?
BRODSKY: He wrote him a letter while -- he wrote him a letter while he was on his way to Scotland because Benjamin Franklin was representing the colonies in England. And Benjamin Franklin was known as Mr. Nice Guy, and he figured he had nothing to lose. And he said, Dear Dr. Franklin, You don`t know me. I`m a Philadelphian. I`m wondering if you would write a letter of recommendation to the rector of the University of Edinburgh. And Franklin did. He wrote this glowing letter about somebody he didn`t know. But he was a Philadelphia boy.

Then when he went to London and he presented himself to Philadelphia (sic), Benjamin Franklin took such a liking to him that he said, Before you go home, you should go to Paris and see what`s going on there. And Rush said, Well, I can`t afford it. Benjamin -- No problem. Benjamin Franklin gave him a big loan, just offered it. He wasn`t -- he gave him a big loan. He said, Don`t worry about paying it back. Don`t worry about it.

So Rush only spent what he had to. And then, when he returned to London on his way back to the States, he -- what would become the States -- he returned the balance of the money to Franklin. Well, this really impressed Franklin. And then when he started making his own money, he went to Franklin`s wife and repaid the loan. And she said, What is this? I don`t know what you`re talking about. He said, Your husband loaned me the money, and I want to pay it back. It speaks well of the man.
LAMB: So he came back to the United States after he -- he had a medical degree?
BRODSKY: Yes. He had a medical degree. He came back. He became the first professor of chemistry in the College of Physicians. And his mentor was Dr. Morgan, and that, of course, was the beginning of the famous Morgan-Shippen split that would figure...
LAMB: Who was Dr. Morgan? Who was Dr. Shippen?
BRODSKY: Dr. Morgan -- Dr. Morgan and Dr. Shippen were the two top doctors at the -- two of the top doctors at the time. But to get ahead a little bit, Shippen -- they both joined in the Army, you know, in the Continental Army. Shippen rose high and pushed Morgan aside. And Shippen was a bit of a crook. This, incidentally, led to the problems with -- between Rush and Washington. Rush -- Washington supported Shippen. And Rush was furious because Rush had said that, first of all, You should have a commissary general for the medical department instead of letting the medical director worry about that. He said, Let the medical director worry about the medicine and have somebody worry about -- because everything, they had to go to Congress. I mean, if they wanted a $10 loan, they had to go to Congress.
LAMB: We still weren`t the United States then.
BRODSKY: No, no, no, no, no. We had to go through the war.
LAMB: We had the 13 colonies.
LAMB: Go through the war. And what years would this have been when he -- when did Benjamin Rush go into the Army?
BRODSKY: Benjamin Rush went into the Army practically when it got started, after Washington was named commander of the Army, after the battle of Bunker Hill. And Washington went up to Boston to, you know, push the British out of Boston. And then he came back down, and he was named commander. And this was at the suggestion of John Adams, which was very shrewd. He said, We`ve got to have a Southerner in charge so that it looks like a unified thing.
LAMB: How long was Benjamin Rush in the Army?
BRODSKY: He was in the Army just for a few months the first go-around. Then he got so disgusted with what he saw, and then he went back in and he was named one of the top leaders in the -- he had the third highest rank in the Army. And he went around -- he was very impressed with the way the British handled their medical problems. He went around and he set up hospitals all over the place. And he was the founder of military medicine. He was saying, Look, you have people dying unnecessarily from illness than from bullets. He was one of the foremost -- one of the leaders in the movement of preventive medicine.
LAMB: And you say he was about No. 3 in the Army.
BRODSKY: He ranked three, yes.
LAMB: And then was Shippen on top?
BRODSKY: Yes, Shippen was the medical director.
LAMB: Because I want to read from your book when this controversy was created between Shippen and Rush. "After leaving Washington`s headquarters in October, Rush went off to inspect a hospital at Reading."
LAMB: Now, where are we in this?
BRODSKY: We`re in Pennsylvania. Washington had -- Washington had -- the Army has been pushed out of New York and fled across New Jersey. And now the big action is in the middle colonies, mostly in Pennsylvania.
LAMB: So Benjamin Rush -- is he married, by the way, at this point?
BRODSKY: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
LAMB: Let me divert for a moment because you tell the story in there of where he... (CROSSTALK)
BRODSKY: It was graduation day at Princeton, and he saw this little 4-year-old girl running around, crying. She was lost in the rush. He said, Who are you, little girl? And what`s your -- my daddy is Richard Stockton. I can`t find -- so he took the little girl to Stockton.
LAMB: Now, did he know Stockton at the time?
BRODSKY: Vaguely.
LAMB: And Stockton`s job at the time?
BRODSKY: Stockton was the big mucka-muck at Princeton. He was the -- he was the -- not the president of the school, but he ran the school because he practically ran the state.
LAMB: And keep in mind that Richard Stockton and Benjamin Rush ended up signing the Declaration of Independence.
BRODSKY: Yes. The only father-in-law/son-in-law combination.
LAMB: So he picks up the 4-year-old at his own graduation. Her name was?
BRODSKY: Julia. Julia. No, it was not his graduation. It was at a reunion graduation, because he had already been through a couple of love affairs.
LAMB: So he`s how old at the time this...
BRODSKY: At that point, he`s in his mid-20s.
LAMB: And she`s 4.
BRODSKY: She`s 4, yes. Yes.
LAMB: So when does he marry her?
BRODSKY: He married her when she was about 18, about 14, 15 years later.
LAMB: Under what circumstances? How did he even connect with her?
BRODSKY: Well, he kept in contact with Stockton because they were both supporters of the revolution. And of course, Stockton was in Congress. And the he paid a Stockton -- a visit to Stockton`s estate at Morvin (ph) and saw this beautiful young girl. He said, Is this the girl I rescued years ago?
LAMB: You say you`re not good at numbers, so I`m going to just use your own book. I actually think she was not even 16, as a matter of fact. I think...
BRODSKY: Well, that could be.
LAMB: I think he was 30, and she was not 16.
BRODSKY: That could be. Yes. That could be. Right. Right.
LAMB: So that was OK back in those years.
BRODSKY: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. I mean, you know, it was like back in the biblical days. If you`re not married by 12, you`re an old lady. Once a woman started menstruating, she was ready for marriage.
LAMB: How many kids did she have?
LAMB: By Rush.
BRODSKY: A total of nine, but they all did not survive. And the -- of the survivors -- only a few survived -- the eldest, John, became insane. And this is what got Rush into what we know as psychiatry, the idea of treating these people as organically ill, as well as, you know, psychologically ill. And also, he was a great believer in therapy. And it was the same thing with prisoners. He said, If a person -- look, if a person goes out and kills 15 people, you forget about it. But if a person steals a loaf of bread or whatever and gets thrown in jail for 10 years, you don`t leave them there rotting. You try and rehabilitate. He was the first one who was for rehabilitating...
LAMB: Mentally ill.
BRODSKY: Yes, and...
LAMB: And prisoners.
BRODSKY: And prisoners. And also the mentally ill.
LAMB: Let me go then to the war. He`s in the Army. He`s...
BRODSKY: He went back in, yes.
LAMB: There he, quote, "found the wounded" -- these are quotes from what, his -- are these letters?
BRODSKY: Yes, letters and his biography.
LAMB: "Found the wounded soldiers in the most distressed condition"...
LAMB: ... "and so deficient in clothing," quote, "that they -- that most of them lay for several weeks in the same shirts in which they were wounded."
LAMB: You write, "When he prescribed Madeira wine for one of the patients, an orderly informed him that only port was available. The several pipes (ph) of Madeira in the hospital stores were Shippen`s personal property."
LAMB: "Outraged, Rush asked three staff members to join him in signing an affidavit against the medical director, and was overheard to remark, quote, `We will bring the Shippens down. They are too powerful and have reigned long enough.` "
LAMB: "He also wrote to John Adams that if the Congress did not reform the medical department, ;I shall trouble you with my resignation, and my reasons shall afterwards be given to the public for it.` He was now bombarding Adams with letters offering his suggestions -- indeed, demands -- for reorganization of the medical department and openly attacking the ignorance, the cowardice, the idleness and the drunkenness of many of the major generals in general, and Shippen in particular."
LAMB: Quote, " `He is both ignorant and negligent of his duty,` and bemoaning the wretched state of the ill and wounded," quote, " `Our hospital affairs grow worse and worse.` "
LAMB: So what happened when he said all of this to Adams and others?
BRODSKY: Well, nothing much happened because Washington was supporting Shippen. Washington -- first of all, he had a lot on his mind. Secondly, Washington believed in supporting his own people. See, Rush had been bombarding Washington with letters, too. So this led to the famous letter that Rush wrote to Washington that really caused the big rift with Washington because he did a very stupid thing. In order to attack this -- and to get ahead, Shippen was kept on, but Rush wouldn`t let go. Rush wouldn`t let go. And Morgan was let out because Morgan was an anti-Shippen. And they ignored -- for the most part, a lot of them ignored Rush because he was a Morgan -- he was a Morgan pupil, a Morgan protege.

He finally -- in disgust, he left the Army, and then he pursued him in the courts. He tried to arrange a -- he did arrange a court-martial. It didn`t work. But he wouldn`t let go. He finally got Shippen out. But by then, he had damaged -- he had wounded himself.
LAMB: Who...
BRODSKY: Rush had wounded...
LAMB: Who did he -- who did he wound himself in front of? What...
BRODSKY: He wrote a letter -- he wrote a letter anonymously complaining about General Washington, about his...
LAMB: Who did he write it to?
BRODSKY: He sent it to Patrick Henry. It was one of these letters that you should put aside and read it the next morning and then throw away.
LAMB: Did he know Patrick Henry?
BRODSKY: Oh, yes. Sure. Oh, sure.
LAMB: What was Patrick Henry`s job at the time?
BRODSKY: At that time, Patrick Henry was the governor of Virginia. And he knew that Patrick Henry was not a fan of Washington. See, Rush made the mistake of attacking Washington, the man, instead of attacking him as Washington, the general. And Adams had said, you know, There`s a nuance there. Don`t attack the -- of course, Adams had no love for Washington, but he never attacked him as a man.

Washington, incidentally, was not a great general. He was not a great tactician. He was like Eisenhower. He was great for bringing everybody together. Although Rush had originally supported Washington and got along with him well, Rush wanted to see him replaced. He wanted to see him replaced by Horatio Gates, who was the hero of the battle of Saratoga.
LAMB: Was anybody in those years when Benjamin Rush was in his, what, 30s...
LAMB: ... paying any attention to him, really?
BRODSKY: Yes. Yes. But not the establishment. Not the establishment, because they -- he had a habit of writing these -- he was always writing these letters attacking, you know...
LAMB: Did he actually quit the Army, or did they kick him out of the Army?
BRODSKY: He quit because he realized that -- he quit in disgust, and -- well, let`s put it this way. I`m going to leave the Army, and they say, Well, don`t let the door hit you in the back. You know, this was after the whole Shippen thing, because he felt that was creating this mess.
LAMB: What did he do then?
BRODSKY: Oh, he went back to medicine. He went...
LAMB: For how long?
BRODSKY: Oh, for the rest of his life. And also social reform. I mean, he was a great believer in higher education of women. He started the first free clinic. He started the study of veterinary medicine in this country. He was all over the place.
LAMB: All in Philadelphia?
BRODSKY: Yes. Yes. He operated out of Philadelphia. He got very disgusted, he got very depressed, and he thought seriously of giving up medicine and going into the law. But then he got that -- that got out of his system. You know, Julia said, you know, Do what you do best and what you really enjoy doing.
LAMB: How would you describe his political views and how he fit into the political spectrum back then? Which -- whose side was he on?
BRODSKY: He was -- he was left of center, I would say, left of center. He was -- he was -- originally, he was a Federalist. And of course, he supported Adams. He wanted Adams to be president. But of course, he was vice president, so that -- you know, that was enough. Then, when he came under the influence of Jefferson and became friendly with Jefferson, he became a Jeffersonian Democrat. But Adams had so much respect for him that he said, OK, we`re still friends, even -- even though you`re -- because Adams was the last Federalist.
LAMB: You say that Benjamin Rush was a member of Congress at one point.
BRODSKY: Yes, that was the Continental Congress.
LAMB: For how long?
BRODSKY: Just a few months, just a few months.
LAMB: And why didn`t he get reelected?
BRODSKY: Because Pennsylvania had -- all of the colonies were organizing new constitutions at the suggestion of John Adams. And he hated the Constitution that the Pennsylvania establishment came up with, and of course he hated the fact that they didn`t like him. The way he did it is he and a group of people went out to the western counties and said, hey, look you fools, the state is being run by three counties, the three eastern counties, Philadelphia, Bucks County and I forget the other one, it begins with a C, I think. And he said, you`re not being represented.

So they forced an election, and they forced the Assembly to increase the number so that they could bring in some of the people from the western counties.

So he had a foot in the door, as it were. And then he was so respected that the establishment had to go along with him and elect him to the Congress. But then when he started sounding off about -- he hated the Constitution for the same reason that he opposed the original United States Constitution. He insisted that there must only be one currency. He said this idea of 13 currencies is chaos. And he was not an economist, but you don`t have to be an economist to see that.

He also hated the concept of a unicameral legislature. He said there has to be a bicameral legislature. He also hated the fact that they had elections every year. They were calling for elections every year. He said, by the time you elect the president, the day after he takes office he`s going to start preparing for his campaign.
LAMB: Would you say he was a Whig?
BRODSKY: Yes, he was what became the Whigs. They were known as the Republicans, as opposed to the Constitutionalists.
LAMB: Because you have a scenario where you write about the five classes of politicians, according to Rush, and I want to go through them. They were rank Tories.
BRODSKY: Right, the Loyalists.
LAMB: Timid Whigs.
LAMB: Moderate men.
LAMB: Who is a moderate? Staunch Whigs, furious Whigs, timid Whigs, moderate men and rank Tory.
BRODSKY: Yeah. Well, the moderate men would swing either way. In other words, they were not totally committed to Toryism or loyal to England, and they were not afraid to open up their mouths in what they believed.

But of course, the Whigs came -- the Whigs grew out of the Republican Party that -- and then of course -- not the Republican Party as we know it. The Republican Party as we know it evolved out of the Whigs, because they felt that, you know, as a result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott decision that they hadn`t gone far enough, so that`s why we have the -- it`s very difficult with this terminology, because Jefferson`s party was the Democratic Republicans, which became the Democrats under Andrew Jackson, which is why it`s known as the party of Jackson and Jefferson.
LAMB: So if Benjamin Rush were here today, what do you -- what do you suspect he would be? What party would he be in?
BRODSKY: Probably the Independence Party, swinging both ways. In other words, I think he would take a little of each. If he saw something that the Republicans -- that he liked, he would go. I don`t think he would go for the Republican Party as it is today, as it`s constituted today, or certainly as the power structure is constituted today.
LAMB: But he wanted religion in the Constitution?
BRODSKY: Yes. Well, he wanted to, but he did not -- no, he did not. He opposed this idea that the Pennsylvania Assembly had, that they had to swear allegiance to Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. He said no, he said being religious is one thing, but you cannot impose that constitutionally, although there are a lot of people around here who would disagree with that today, as they disagree with it.
LAMB: But you write this: You say, "Rush did have one reservation, though, as he subsequently wrote Adams in 1789, the wish that, quote, `the name of the Supreme Being` had been introduced somewhere in the new Constitution. Perhaps an acknowledgements may be made of his goodness or of his providence in the proposed amendments. In all enterprises and parties, I believe the praying are better allies than the fighting past of the communities."
BRODSKY: Exactly. But he did not want what they originally wanted, to take an oath that they would respect only Jesus as the Son of Man. Oh, he was a religious man, there is no doubt about it. But he respected everybody`s religion. He didn`t say you have to worship this way or that way or the other way.
LAMB: So you don`t think he would be a member of either party?
BRODSKY: I don`t think so. I think he would -- I think he would be an independent. Not a Ralph Nader independent, I mean, but I think he would be an independent.
LAMB: You say the two personal flaws that he had were impetuousness and proclivity for indiscretion.
BRODSKY: Yes, he was very indiscrete. And a perfect example of that, which is what caused him grief, was the famous letter to Patrick Henry. What it is, he wrote the letter to Patrick Henry because he knew that Patrick Henry was not a fan of George Washington. But he didn`t -- he wrote it anonymously.

Now, the reason he wrote it anonymously is they often -- letters were written and opened by messengers everywhere along the way, and he did not want it that letter read. He sent that letter to Patrick Henry, and he thought that Patrick Henry would like spread the word, so on and so forth.

Well, Patrick Henry was first and foremost a Virginian. Patrick Henry was not aware, as I just told you that, the letter came from Rush. But he felt that his loyalty was to Washington, who was a fellow Virginian. So he sent the letter to Washington. Washington recognized Rush`s handwriting, so he knew who wrote the letter.

And that`s why he should never have sent that letter, but he didn`t realize that would happen.

Now, Washington did not hate him for it. He forgave him. He never forgot it. But after the war, Washington came to Philadelphia and they got along fine. They had a lovely dinner together and so on and so forth, but it`s a letter that should have been left unsent.
LAMB: So for the majority of his life, until he was 67, almost 68, he was a doctor?
BRODSKY: Oh, practically until the day he died he practiced. Even practiced on himself.
LAMB: Now, when did you get involved in all of this writing business? How long have you written?
BRODSKY: Oh, I -- my first book was 1974, that was "Madame Lynch and Friend." That`s the story of the Paraguayan dictator and his Irish-born French whore, who started the bloodiest war in the Western hemisphere, which very few people know about. The bloodiest war in the Western hemisphere.
LAMB: Where were you at the time? Where did you live?
BRODSKY: Well, I had been with the United States embassy in Paraguay. I was the deputy cultural attache, and that`s how I got to know the story.
LAMB: And so, let`s go back to the beginning. Where were you born?
BRODSKY: Oh, I was born in Newark. That`s when Newark was a great city.
LAMB: And where did you go to college?
BRODSKY: I went to the University of Miami and ...
LAMB: The University of Miami in Ohio, or down here?
BRODSKY: No, down here, because I wanted to study history and they had three great history teachers there. They had this Armand Arsiniegas (ph), on Latin American history, and Dr. Ernestus Wright (ph) on American history, and they had this Dr. Ernest Shipay (ph), who`s my Mr. Chips.

Now -- plus I also had an English professor, Robert Ward (ph), who I absolutely adored as a professor. Now, if you go to college, and you have one professor that you can look up to as an idol, that`s great. I had four.
LAMB: And after college you did what?
BRODSKY: I did everything. I was with -- I went in the Army, I was with "Stars and Stripes," I was a combat correspondent. I used to give -- I came back -- I ran -- it`s not in the biography there -- but I edited five weekly newspapers simultaneously out of Indianapolis, and I didn`t know the first thing about anything in paper, but I saw the ad in "The New York Times," and the publisher was coming to New York, so I called up and I said, "what kind of paper are you running?" He said, "well, it`s a tabloid.: So I went to Barnes & Noble`s and bought a back on how to edit a tabloid newspaper.

And I went and I met the guy, and he took a liking to me. And I wound up editing -- the paper was printed -- published weekly in Indianapolis. And there were five different editions.
LAMB: What kind of paper was it?
BRODSKY: It was a Jewish newspaper, but it dealt with for the Jewish community, not like "The Forward" or anything like that. And then after that, I went into the USIS. This was after the USIA -- USIS was as known in the field...
LAMB: The United States Information Service?
BRODSKY: Yeah, which had been completely destroyed by McCarthy and Roy Cohn, and they were rebuilding it. And a friend of my mother`s, who was one of the directors, said, why don`t you have your son apply? And I did, and they said, well, we have an opening in Asia. I said, well, I don`t want to go back to Asia, do you have anything else available? He said, well, we have an opening in Paraguay. He said, did you ever hear of it? I said, yes. He said, do you speak Spanish? I said, yes, I do. I had studied Spanish. They said, OK, you`re in. So that`s how I wound up in Paraguay.

I was there, incidentally, when the United States government installed General Stroessner. I mean, we`re great ones for installing dictators, and that`s how I learned -- well, I got sick in Paraguay and I had to leave, because I had a weird disease that I got down there and I had to come back for treatment. So then ...
LAMB: What year was that?
BRODSKY: That was `58. And then, .., and then, after that, that`s when I moved to New York and I was doing some lecturing around on classical music, which is I -- because I originally was a music major. I was originally a music major.
LAMB: Were you a piano player?
BRODSKY: Yes, yes, but...
LAMB: Yes?
BRODSKY: ... I didn`t have the discipline, I didn`t -- I said, no, I can`t spend eight hours a day practicing. I mean, you either have it or -- that, and then I drifted into editorial work, and I wound up as the editorial director of two multi-volume encyclopedias, that were by the old Curtis (ph) publishing company. One...
LAMB: Is that the Indianapolis Curtis (ph) publishing company, or are they in Pennsylvania?
BRODSKY: The one in New York.
LAMB: In New York, OK.
BRODSKY: Yeah, yeah. I think they`re out of business now. I think that Semenenko (ph) from Boston destroyed that company completely.

I came in when the history encyclopedia was in progress, and the fellow that they had was an idiot. And I met the publisher and the publisher`s wife, who was really calling all the shots, and she said, oh, you know, we like you, come. All right, so I wound up there.

After we finished that, the publisher said, you know, I would like to do a Bible encyclopedia. He said, what do you know about the Bible? I said, precious little. Let me just study it. So I spent the next two weeks reading the Bible, and I wrote the prospectus, and I wrote the entire outline how a book -- and it was going to be a 22-volume encyclopedia. And I wrote most of the major Old Testament entries, the ones that appealed to me I wrote. The prophets, the major prophets, and the books of the prophets, and the monarchies of the northern and southern kingdoms.

And so I was busier -- I was so busy writing that I had to hire a staff of editors just to do the editing.
LAMB: Where do you live today?
BRODSKY: I live in Aventura, Florida, which is...
LAMB: Is that south or north right there in Miami?
BRODSKY: No, it`s the northernmost end of Miami-Dade County. As a matter of fact, you can spit into Broward County. It was originally part of the Miami-Dade county. It`s a very, very wealthy community. I`m one of the total paupers there.

And what happened is that there were -- all these millionaire retirees were pouring, you know, it`s also Tornberry (ph) of Gary Hart fame, they were pouring all this tax money into the rest of the county, and all that money was going for the politicians, it was the most crooked city in the country, and the -- you know, the Cubans coming in.

And they said, look, why don`t we keep that money here? And Miami fought it, but they said, no, we are going to be independent, so they went to the legislature, and they had an election, and they became an independent city. I think it`s the sixth wealthiest city in the country now.
LAMB: Aventura?
BRODSKY: Yeah, yeah. And it`s a very small, lovely community. It has everything, and it`s very convenient.
LAMB: Let`s get back to Benjamin Rush before we run out of time. Benjamin Rush founded, you say, Dickinson College?
BRODSKY: Yeah. Yeah.
LAMB: Who was Dickinson?
BRODSKY: John Dickinson was one of the leaders of the independence movement.
LAMB: Did he sign the declaration?
BRODSKY: I believe -- I`m not sure. I don`t think so, because he was originally against separation.
LAMB: Well, he was either Constitution or declaration.
BRODSKY: Yeah, then it was -- then it must have been, I don`t recall quite offhand whether he did.
LAMB: So why do they call it Dickinson College? Where is it?
BRODSKY: He -- well, he admired Dickinson, and he wanted to start college -- a federal university, and he wanted to build more schools. But he chose to name it Dickinson, to honor Dickinson, whom he respected as a man. In other words, he didn`t want it to be known as Rush.
LAMB: And the college today is where?
BRODSKY: That`s in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In Carlisle. It`s not Fairleigh Dickinson here in New Jersey, it`s in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. And...
LAMB: Did he ever teach there?
BRODSKY: No, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania, because the college of the physicians, of which he was one of the founding -- you know, the first chemistry professor, evolved into the University of Pennsylvania, the medical school evolved into it. And that`s where he taught. And he also had private students.
LAMB: So Benjamin Rush, born in Pennsylvania, married Julia (ph), nine kids, medical doctors, school at Attinboro (ph) and London and Pennsylvania.
BRODSKY: Right. Father of American psychiatry.
LAMB: In the Army, member of Congress for a short time. Medical doctor. Yellow fever.
LAMB: When does the yellow fever...
BRODSKY: Yellow fever was 1793. Now, nobody knew what caused the yellow fever, but he was on the trail. Because he was wondering, why does this yellow fever come every year and it breaks out in the dock area where the poor people live in congested -- and it doesn`t break out where the rich people live? And then he realized -- he was a great believer in exercise, eating properly, eating in moderation and not -- and being clean. You know, he originated the GI haircut, when he went into the Army. He said, you`ve got to stop wearing your hair long because you`re growing bugs and disease back there, and they started shaving their hair.
LAMB: So yellow fever, though, I mean, I`m confused. Did he cure yellow fever?
BRODSKY: No, he showed that it could be prevented. He showed it could be prevented, and if it could be prevented eventually it would die out. It was not until long after he lived that they realized that the carrier was a mosquito. The theory at that time it was -- it would -- came from some effluvia (ph) that grew out of the swamps. He said, well, that may be, but the point is, it can be prevented. Clean out the swamps.
LAMB: But you say, though, in the book that he lost his patients because of the way he treated...
BRODSKY: Well, because he was a bleeder. He believed in bleeding.
LAMB: How did that work?
BRODSKY: Well, actually taking blood. He was known as Dr. Vampire, which has also given him a bad name down until today, although people have to realize that we cannot judge people who lived in another era by our own standards.
LAMB: What was the purpose of bleeding?
BRODSKY: The theory was that any illness could be cured if you bled the -- if you removed the humors, and the humors were carried in the blood. This was the …concept of medicine. And he did it, he bled. There`s even a story that Washington was bled to death. See, they didn`t know how much blood was in the body. They thought that there were about 12, 15 quarts of blood in the body.
LAMB: And you say there -- he`s found out -- I mean, there are only six.
BRODSKY: Exactly. So the point is, they were bleeding and bleeding, and eventually people were dying. He persisted in that, he did. I mean, you know, he accomplished so much else. But so did all of these other doctors. It was common, but his enemies just stamped this title on him of Dr. Vampire.
LAMB: So what did he do after he was losing his patients? How did he make his living?
BRODSKY: Oh, they came back. First of all, he was teaching and they taught to teach in those days. And his patients came back. Even the Quakers, who did not like him for his politics, went to him because they realized he was a good doctor. And also, they did not come back as much as when he was at the height of his money, so John Adams made him treasurer of the Mint. So that brought in $1,200 a year. In those days, it was good money. And he didn`t have to mint coins. All he had to do was just sign papers, you know. So that helped. And then his wife inherited money.
LAMB: You say -- you say in your book that Benjamin Rush`s most famous remark, quote, "The kingdoms of Europe have traveled into their present state of boasted tranquility through seas of blood. The republics of America are traveling into order and wise government only through a sea of blunders." Why is that his most famous remark?
BRODSKY: Well, I -- it`s because of the irony of it. There were so many blunders involved in the creation of the country, and the winning of the war. I mean, we were outnumbered, we were outmanned, we were outgunned, we were everything, and there were blunders right and left militarily, and many of them committed by Washington. Washington only -- I think only won one battle.
LAMB: How did we win then? Why did we win?
BRODSKY: Why did we lose in Vietnam? When you`re fighting people who are fighting for what they believe on their home territory and know the ground better than you do, and you have to realize that England was 3,000 miles from the line of supply.
LAMB: So we won in 1776 era, the same way that the Vietnamese won in...?
BRODSKY: Right, but we didn`t -- I mean, the war went on for about five or six years, and it broke out. But because we had a very small army. They were ill-fed, sometimes they were not even paid, they were ill-clothed. They had no training until Baron von Steuben came over and gave them drill, and also they could just simply walk away. There was no such thing as going AWOL. You just went. So I mean, Washington is to be pitied for the fact that he did so much with so little.
LAMB: You say that Rush`s mantra was, all will end well. What did he mean by that?
BRODSKY: Yes, yes. He meant no matter how bad things are, everything is going to be fine. He was a very -- he was very positive -- positivistic in his thinking.
LAMB: Did he say it all the time?
BRODSKY: Yeah, he said it throughout his letters. All is well -- he would complain about this, he would complain about that, but all will end well.
LAMB: So in the end, what do you really want people to know?
BRODSKY: I want people to realize that this man was more than a footnote in history, that he was a -- he came along at a pivotal moment in our history and made great contributions. Not only in the founding of the country, and in medicine and in social reform, and he deserves to be rescued from obscurity.
LAMB: Can you find anything Benjamin Rush -- as you traveled around, are there houses anywhere that they have maintained in his name?
BRODSKY: No, but there`s the Rush Medical Center in Chicago. They`ve named streets after him, they`ve put up statues. I mean, he is known. How he came to be recognized in Chicago I don`t know. Chicago didn`t exist in his days, and so he certainly never got there. There was no Chicago.

But there is that Rush Medical Center. And he`s recognized high in the profession, but not by the general public. I mean, you know, the general public, even the general adult reading public, I mean, which is what I cater to, I`m not interested in people who read "People" magazine, I got it for people who read "American History" magazine, but the point is that I want him to be more recognized for what he accomplished.
LAMB: How long did it take you to write a book like this?
BRODSKY: That book took -- it usually takes me about a year to write a book.
LAMB: And where do you write from?
BRODSKY: Right on my computer in my apartment.
LAMB: Down in?
BRODSKY: In Florida, yeah.
LAMB: In Aventura?
BRODSKY: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
LAMB: And when you researched this -- all this stuff...
BRODSKY: Well, that you have to depend on the interlibrary loan. Because there is nothing available in the local libraries, but the interlibrary loan, which a lot of people are not aware of, is a marvelous thing. You can get books from anyplace in the country, any university, as long as it`s not in your library system.

Now, I just got a book for the book that I am working on now, from the University of Alaska. I didn`t know they had a University in Alaska. But the interlibrary loan, they track it down and then they get you the book. And it`s a free service.
LAMB: Total number of books that you`ve written?
BRODSKY: That I`ve written that have been published? I think it`s six.
LAMB: And can you make a living off of this?
BRODSKY: Sort of. If you live -- if you live well. I don`t write best sellers. The book that my agent -- that I just finished a couple of months ago we`re hoping will be a best seller, because that might have more popular appeal.
LAMB: About?
BRODSKY: That is a history of the great American madams. So that`s -- that -- I`m talking about the real old-time madams, I`m not talking about Heidi Fleiss. They weren`t madams, they were just escorts (ph).
LAMB: Give us a name or two that you`ve been writing about.
BRODSKY: Sally Stanford, Polly Adler, there`s so many. The stories are fantastic, and they served an important purpose. Because, first of all, they kept the girls safe. The girls were not beat up. They kept the girls clean, because if you had dirty girls, you were going to lose customers, and their best customers were not men off the street but politicians, who they were paying to, you know, to stay in business. They kept the girls healthy. They girls were well-fed, the girls were well-dressed. And look, you know, stamping out prostitution, you cannot legislate vice out of existence.
LAMB: So what you`re kind of saying, though, here as we get to the end of this is that the Benjamin Rush thing won`t be nearly as popular as the great madams story.
BRODSKY: I`m afraid not.
LAMB: Why do you think?
BRODSKY: Well, because people would rather read what they think is salacious material rather than historical material.
LAMB: When does "The Great Madams" come out?
BRODSKY: As soon as it`s sold.
LAMB: And you think it is going to be a best seller?
BRODSKY: Well, my agent is very confident. He said this will be your annuity.
LAMB: In a book like a Benjamin Rush book, do you know how many copies that they have out in bookstores?
BRODSKY: No, they keep that a secret. They don`t tell you. They don`t tell you.
LAMB: Do you suspect they`re going to be printing more on "The Great Madams" than they did on Benjamin Rush?
BRODSKY: Oh, I suspect that -- well, first of all, "The Great Madams" is not going to St. Martin`s Press. No more St. Martin`s Press. I suspect that they would. First of all, I suspect that they would push it.
LAMB: What does that comment mean, though, that it`s not going to go to St. Martin`s Press? What is the difference between St. Martin`s Press and...
BRODSKY: Well, this is my last book for St. Martin`s Press.
LAMB: Why?
BRODSKY: Well, I was very disappointed in the handling of the La Guardia book. The La Guardia book was well-received. I was interviewed on CNN, not only on your -- you know, this, but also Judy Woodruff. I mean, she he called me. I said, what do you want from me? I`m not a newsmaker. The whole world has collapsed -- anyway. And I was entertained by Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion. It was one of the lead books at the New York Book Fair. And I did -- and the C-SPAN selected my speech on La Guardia to be broadcast live, and then they broadcast it again that night at 11:00, which picked up the West Coast audience. And out of all that, I never got from any of them so much as a one-word congratulations e-mail, and that hurt.
LAMB: Where does St. Martin`s operate?
BRODSKY: They`re out of New York.
LAMB: Out of New York.
BRODSKY: Yeah, yeah.
LAMB: So what, you do not have a publisher yet for "The Great Madams"?
BRODSKY: Right, right, exactly, exactly. And, you know, by mutual consent. They were interested in "The madams" but they wanted -- they didn`t want to do the book the way I wanted to do it. So that was my out. So now I`m off the hook. They wanted me to concentrate on six or eight madams. This is ridiculous. There are at least 35 madams that you have to concentrate on, because they had the most incredible stories. I mean, you can`t believe the stories that these people had. They just didn`t just preside. I mean, if we had time, I would give you one instance where two madams were fighting over the same guy, so they decided to go down to the river and shoot it out. Because they all carried pistols.
LAMB: The two madams?
BRODSKY: Yeah. So the one madam -- so they shot, one madam hit the other, her bullet went into the tree, and the other madam, the bullet went into the head of the guy they were fighting over.
LAMB: Our guest is Alyn Brodsky. Here is the cover of the book. This is all about Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, patriot and physician. And we thank you very much for being with us.
BRODSKY: And thank you.
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