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Benjamin Rush was born December 24, 1745 on a plantation near Philadelphia, in an agricultural community of Byberry, Pennsylvania. He was one of seven children. His father, John Rush, was a yeoman from Oxfordshire that came to Byberry in 1683. He was a gunsmith and a farmer, and would die when Benjamin was about five years old. He would then be raised by his mother, Susanna, who ran a grocery store to support and educate all seven children.
At age eight Benjamin was sent to an academy conducted by his uncle, in Nottingham, Maryland. His uncle Samuel Finley helped him gain a proper education, and even further, Benjamin excelled so highly that five years later he entered the College of New Jersey, later known as Princeton, and was admitted to the junior class, graduating in 1760 with an A.B. degree, when he was not quite fifteen years old.
When Benjamin returned to Philadelphia, he at first thought of studying law, but later changed his mind, and decided to study medicine. He became a student under Dr. John Redman from 1761 to 1766, and in addition, he also attended the first lectures of Dr. William Shippen and Dr. John Morgan in the College of Philadelphia.
During these years Benjamin developed an interest in public affairs. He was persuaded by Whitefield...