Medicine: The Nation's Oldest

Dr. Thomas Bond thought that the thriving city of Philadelphia (pop. 15,000) should have a general hospital. When he tried to raise money for one, he was asked constantly: "Have you consulted Franklin? What does he think of it?" Bond finally went to Benjamin Franklin, and it was well that he did. Foxy Ben Franklin conceived the idea of matching private subscriptions with public funds; he lured both citizens and legislators with the bait that the others would put up equal sums. It worked.

Two hundred years ago this week, the lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania signed "an act to encourage the establishing...