Lewis Atterbury Stimson (Fig. 1)2,3 was born in Paterson, New Jersey. His family was of old colonial stock, and his father was a successful stockbroker who counted Jay Gould and Jim Fisk among his acquaintances. Stimson graduated from Yale in 1863 just in time to see active service in the final period of the Civil War. After the war he married and went to work as a broker on Wall Street. In the next few years he became interested in the study of medicine, perhaps because of the chronic illness of his wife who had become diabetic. In 1871 he took his family to Paris to seek help for his wife and to begin his medical education. At this time he studied with Pasteur, Nelaton, Gosselin, and others. Returning to the United States, he obtained his medical degree from Bellevue Hospital Medical College in 1875. At graduation he was awarded the Wood Prize of the Alumni Association of Bellevue Hospital Medical College for an essay entitled "Bacteria and Their Influence Upon the Origin and Development of Septic Complications of Wounds."4 The following year he performed the first public operation in the United States using Lister's antiseptic technique. He was an important influence on the introduction of antiseptic and aseptic technique into operating theaters in this country.
After the death of his beloved wife in 1876, his work became his life. He made significant contributions to the technique of abdominal surgery, popularized the use of plaster of paris splints for the treatment of fractures, and described a method for the reduction of posterior dislocations of the hip (Fig. 2). His book on fractures and dislocations,5 first published in 1883, was preceded by a translation of a series of lectures, mostly on fractures, given by Gosselin at La Charite.
Stimson was an important and influential figure in the New York surgical community, and he had a significant role in the development of the Cornell University Medical College. His son, Henry L. Stimson, held positions in the cabinets of Presidents Taft, Hoover, and Franklin Roosevelt.
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