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Samuel Bard ((1742-04-01)April 1, 1742 – (1821-05-24)May 24, 1821) was an American physician who founded the first medical school in New York City and the second medical school in the United States at King's College, now known as Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He was a personal physician to George Washington. His description of the disease diphtheria was instrumental in formulating treatment for that condition.

Samuel Bard
Samuel Bard.jpg
Born(1742-04-01)April 1, 1742
DiedMay 24, 1821(1821-05-24) (aged 79)
EducationKing's College
University of Edinburgh
Spouse(s)Mary Bard
ChildrenWilliam Bard
Eliza Bard McVickar
Parent(s)John Bard
Suzanne Valleau Bard
RelativesJohn Bard (grandson)


Early lifeEdit

Bard was born in Philadelphia on April 1, 1742. He was a son of Suzanne (née Valleau) Bard (1720–1784), a granddaughter of Peter Fauconnier, and Dr. John Bard (1716–1799), a physician who was born in Burlington, New Jersey.[1]

He first studied at King's College, and in September 1761 sailed to Europe to obtain a thorough medical education.[2] He spent five years in France, England, and Scotland and received his M.D. at the University of Edinburgh in May 1765. On his return, he found his father in debt for his education, which had cost more than a thousand pounds. He entered into partnership with him, and for three years drew nothing beyond his expenses from the profits of the business, amounting to 1,500 a year.[1]


In 1769, Bard founded the first hospital in New York called the Hospital in the City of New York in America, which became New York Hospital (now a part of NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital). Bard formed the plan of the Medical School of New York, which was published within a year after his return. He was appointed Professor of the Practice of Physics. Medical degrees were first conferred in 1769. In the same year, the hospital was founded by his exertions; but the building was burnt, causing a delay of the establishment until 1791.[3] In the time of the war he left the city, placing his family in the house of his father at Hyde Park; but anxious to provide for his wife and children and to secure his property, in the next year, he returned to New York, while the enemy had possession of it, and engaged in his professional business.[3]

After the return of peace, Washington selected him as his family physician. At this period he lost four out of his six children by scarlatina, which prevailed in a violent form. In consequence of the illness of Mrs. Bard, he withdrew from business for a year, devoting himself to her. In 1784, he returned to the city. Having formed the purpose to retire from business, in 1798, he moved to his seat in the neighborhood of his father at Hyde Park. But, when the yellow fever appeared, he resolutely returned to his post. By his fearless exposure of himself he took the disease; but, nursed by his wife, he recovered. The remaining 23 years of his life were spent in happy retirement, surrounded by his children and grandchildren. In 1813, he was appointed President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.[4]

Personal lifeEdit

After paying back his father for his medical school debt, he married his cousin, Mary Bard (1746–1821), to whom he had long been attached. Together, they were the parents of:[3]

  • William Bard (1778–1853), who studied law under Judge Maturin Livingston and married Catherine Cruger (1781–1868) in 1802.
  • Eliza Bard (1789–1838), who married John McVickar (1787–1868), the First Rector of St. James Church in Hyde Park.

He died of pleurisy on May 24, 1821. His wife succumbed of the same disorder the preceding day, and they were buried in one grave.[3]


Through his son William, he was the grandfather of John Bard, founder of Bard College.[5]


  1. ^ a b Year Book of the Dutchess County Historical Society. Dutchess County Historical Society. 1938. p. 79. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  2. ^   Kelly, Howard A.; Burrage, Walter L., eds. (1920). "Bard, Samuel" . American Medical Biographies . Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company.
  3. ^ a b c d John McVickar (1822), A Domestic Narrative of the Life of Samuel Bard, M. D.: LL. D., Late President of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the University of the State of New York, &c, Columbia College of Columbia University
  4. ^   This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Simpson, Henry, 1790–1868 The lives of eminent Philadelphians, now deceased (1859)
  5. ^ Rossiter, Johnson, ed. (1906). Biographical dictionary of America. 1. Boston: American Biographical Society. OL 7026005M.

Selected worksEdit

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