Medicine: Ailing Hickory

Because of his toughness during the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson was nicknamed "Old Hickory" by his soldiers. Last week, a specialist in reconstructing diagnoses of historical figures reported that he rated the title. By the time it was conferred on him, Old Hickory, 46, had had smallpox, osteomyelitis, malaria, dysentery, rheumatism and half a dozen other assorted diseases; in his chest was a dueler's bullet that was to plague him until he died at 78.

In Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Librarian Frances Tomlinson Gardner, of the University of California Medical School, says it...