Dr. John Cochran


I was a doctor who became the head of the army’s medical department.

I was born in 1730 in Chester County, Pennsylvania, to Scotch-Irish parents. I apprenticed under Dr. Robert Thompson in Lancaster and served as a surgeon’s mate during the French and Indian War. I married Gertrude Schuyler and we lived in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where I helped found the Medical Society of New Jersey in 1766.

At the time, everyone was afraid of the disease of smallpox, which caused a terrible fever, disfigured the skin, and often killed people. So in 1772, I set up a house near New Brunswick where people could come and get inoculated, which was a new but risky technique to make people immune to the disease.

I protested against the acts of Parliament that reduced our rights as British citizens. I volunteered to serve in the hospital department of the Continental Army, served in several battles and offices, and was promoted to Director of the Medical Department on January 17, 1781. I served in that position until April 11, 1783, and gained respect by my actions, my industry, my sound judgement, and unfailing tact.

After the Revolution, I moved to New York City where President Washington appointed me as Commissioner of Loans in 1790. After I suffered a stroke, I moved to Palatine, New York, where I died in 1807.

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