April 7, 1849 (Saturday)

Rather a pleasant day, very warm, but somewhat dusty.  Attended the annual commencement of the University, which took place today.  It was a brilliant affair—an immense crowd; and composed mostly of the beauty of the place, good music &c.

Came to Norristown this afternoon, Called the Mc’s

The Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania held its annual commencement at the Musical Fund Hall before 1500 spectators. One hundred ninety men received medical degrees, conferred upon them by the provost, Rev. John Ludlow, D. D. (1793–1857). To date, it was the largest graduating class at this school or any other American medical school.

Reverend John Ludlow, D.D.

from the University of Pennsylvania Archives website

The valedictory address was delivered by Professor of Materia Medica Dr. George Bacon Wood (1797–1879).  The Philadelphia North American, on April 9, reported with typical mid-19th century flair that Dr. Wood’s speech was, “finished and scholastic, and, as an oration, neat and eloquent.”  The paper continued, “The sentiments of professional honor which it inculcated, were of the highest order, and the moral tone that pervaded it, unexceptionable.”  As good as the address was, however, the North American thought the music, provided by Cross’ Band, was “next to the array of Philadelphia beauty. . . the most captivating and charming feature of the occasion.”  Apparently, beauty and music trump “neat and eloquent.”

The American Antiquarian Society has two addresses  by Reverend Ludlow.

Dr. Wood was a prolific author.  Many of his lectures and addresses were published.  Additionally, he wrote widely on medicine, pharmacology and history.  The AAS has fifteen of his works including an introduction to the theory and practice of medicine delivered at Penn in October 1850 and a commencement address given at Penn in 1856. For a complete list, click here.


“John Ludlow (1793–1857).” University of Pennsylvania, University Archives and Record Center. http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/ludlow_john.html

“George Bacon Wood (1797–1879).” University of Pennsylvania, University Archives and Record Center. http://www.archives.upenn.edu/people/1700s/wood_geo_b.html

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