About the Georgia Surgical Society

The Georgia Surgical Society officially began in September 1961. The Society is now an organization of approximately 400 surgeons who are dedicated to the advancement of surgical practice and optimal patient care. The officers of the Society are the President, President-Elect, Secretary-Treasurer, three Councilors who are the three most recent past Presidents of the Society, a member under the age of 40 who is elected to serve a two-year term, and two Councilors Emeritus, each of whom is a past Secretary-Treasurer. As stated in the Constitution, “The object of this Society shall be the advancement of the art and science of surgery, for the encouragement of its members to pursue original investigative work, to encourage the improvement of surgical teaching and education in the State, and to provide an atmosphere for informal exchange of ideas concerning surgery among its members and provide a vehicle for continuing medical education and foster high standards of ethical practice.”

Our Heritage

The following is an edited version of the Presidential Address presented at the annual meeting of the Georgia Surgical Society at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia on September17, 1964 byJulian K. Quattlebaum, M.D., FACS Savannah, Georgia.

A worthwhile organization, like an outstanding individual, is proudest of its background and legacy, so let us glance briefly tonight on the heritage of the Georgia Surgical Society.

We have reached the pinnacle of surgical achievement. The era of excisional surgery, that age when surgical therapy was considered a confession of failure to cure by other means, is now being supplanted by the surgery of replacement, the surgery of restoration, and like Alladin of the Arabian Nights, we now offer the miracle of new parts for old. The wonders of modern surgery taxes the imagination, and the end is not in sight. Many of us in this organization have witnessed, appreciated, and thrilled at the development of today’s surgery: the introduction of the blood bank, the use of the miracle drugs in surgery, the application of chemistry to our craft, the role of electrolytes and fluid balance, the wonders of modern anesthesia, the newer techniques. We are indeed proud to recognize that Georgians have made significant contributions to this progress; we salute them and shine in their reflected glory.

The Georgia Surgical Society represents the best in surgery, but great as is its prestige, we would be remiss not to pause for a moment and reflect how this eminence came to be. Let us review some of the accomplishments of those giants of long ago whose efforts in legislation, education, and research made possible much of today’s progress and to whom we are greatly indebted. Time alone prevents me from mentioning many who should be recognized, but as the silent organ loudest plays its masters requiem,” perhaps those whose names are missing are indeed most honored.

We should pay homage, humble though it is, to those pioneers who searched for truth and left untarnished evidence of their deeds. We owe them generous recognition of the motives that prompted them. We are indebted to them for their example and teaching and the service they rendered. They contributed definitely to the sum of human achievement, and none are deserving more than those who labored in this field a century or more ago.

MILTON ANTHONY (1789-1839)

Few surgeons of Georgia have had the cultural and educational background or have contributed so much to the surgical literature as Louis Alexander Dugas de Vallon who was bornin Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia, January 3, 1806. After attending courses of lectures at the Philadelphia Medical Institute and two years of study, he graduated from the University of Maryland in1827 and spent the next three years in Europe traveling and studying in England, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy, but making Paris headquarters. In July 1831 he returned to America and began practicing in Augusta, Georgia, where he soon joined Dr. Anthony and others on the faculty of the Medical College of Georgia. He was first Professor of Anatomy then Physiology before becoming Professor of The Principles and Practice of Surgery, a position he maintained until his retirement from work many years later with a record of fifty years of service in the Medical College of Georgia.

LOUIS ALEXANDER DUGAS de VALLON (1806-1884)

Milton Anthony was born August 7, 1789, the place of his birth being unknown. With less than three years of early schooling and only one year of attending lectures in Philadelphia, he began practice in Monticello, Georgia. After a short residence in New Orleans, he came to Augusta in 1819. Through his effort, the State Board of Medical Examiners was appointed in 1825, and three years later he obtained a charter for a Medical Academy, his objective being to improve students of medicine by requiring them to study longer and more thoroughly than they had been doing.The academy went into operation with three professors and a promising class. Shortly thereafter its name was changed to the Medical Institute of Georgia. The school was so successful that in 1833 the State Legislature granted a new charter for the college and changed its name to the Medical College of Georgia. Still in existence, it represents one of the oldest medical institutions in the United States.

PAUL FITZSIMMONS EVE (1806-1877)

Paul Fitzsimmons Eve was born near Augusta, Georgia on June 27, 1806. After an excellent education and splendid preparation including a stint as Army surgeon for Poland against Russia, he became Professor of Surgery at the Medical College of Georgia in 1832, resigning in 1850 to succeed Gross at the University of Louisiana. He published a large volume, “Remarkable Cases in Surgery.” He performed the first successful abdominal hysterectomy for carcinoma of the uterus in America in April 1850.

JOHN MURRAY CORNOCHAN (1818-1887)

John Murray Cornochan of Savannah was born in 1817 and died in 1887. His distinguished career as a surgeon included a number of firsts, among them the excision of the ulna in 1853,the radius in 1854, and the os calis in 1857. Dr. Cornochan published many articles in the American Journal of Medical Sciences of Philadelphia and in the American Medical Gazette and the American Medical Monthly.

HENRY FRASER CAMPBELL (1824-1886)

Henry Fraser Campbell was born in Savannah on February 10, 1824. He was graduated from the Medical College of Georgia in 1842 at the age of eighteen and practiced all his life in Augusta. During the War Between the States, he was Medical Director of the Georgia Military Hospitals at Richmond, Virginia. He served as President of the Medical Association of Georgia and The American Medical Association. Few men in medicine have had as many honors conferred upon them as Dr. Campbell. One of his greatest contributions was the discovery of the excitosecretory system of nerves,announced in 1850.

CRAWFORD W. LONG (1815-1878)

Of course, no occasion of this kind could fail to include the first operation using ether as an anesthetic. On March 30, 1842, Dr. Crawford Williamson Long, born in Danielsville, Georgia, removed a tumor from the neck of James M. Venable in Jefferson, Georgia. This has been universally accepted as the first surgical  operation performed under ether anesthesia, although much controversy has ragedabout the subject. Dr. Long performed many other operations under ether anesthesia, including amputation of the leg in 1856 and amputation of the breast in 1857. The world has not yet seen a greater benefactor of mankind than Crawford Williamson Long.

ROBERT BATTEY (1828-1895)

Dr. Robert Battey was born in Augusta. Dr. Battey practiced in Rome, Georgia from 1857 until his retirement, with the exception of the years 1872-1875 when he served as Professor of Obstetrics in the Atlanta Medical College and was also Editor of the Atlanta Medical and Surgical Journal. Dr.Battey was the first to suggest and perform the operation of oophorectomy for such painful non-ovarian conditions as disabling dysmenorrhea and various neuroses. He was pioneer in endocrinology.

WILLIS F. WESTMORELAND (1828-1890)

Willis F. Westmoreland was born in Pike County, Georgia in 1828, and afterstudying under his brother, Dr. John Gray Westmoreland, and at the University of Georgia, he graduated from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia in 1850. He practiced for a short time in Pike County in 1854 before moving to Atlanta where he devoted himself entirely to surgery. Dr. Westmoreland was an ardent supporter of the Atlanta Medical College and held the Chair of Professor of Surgery for thirty years. In 1885 he established the Atlanta Medical and Surgical Journal with which he was closely associated for over twenty years.

WILLIAM PERRIN NICOLSON (1857-1928)

William Perrin Nicolson was born in Virginia in 1857, and after attending the University of Virginia was graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1877. Moving to Atlanta and specializing in Surgery, he was Professor of Anatomy and Lecturer on Clinical Surgery at the Southern Medical College and later became Dean of that institution. He performed an appendectomy in 1892 and was first to advise and practice preliminary ligation of the carotid artery in certain operations about the head and neck. In 1899 he used a celluloid plate to replace the bone removed in trephining a skull, and he was the first to report bilateral tumors of the carotid body.

FLOYD WILCOX McRAE (1861-1921)

Floyd Wilcox McRae was born in Telfair County, Georgia in 1861. He was educated in Georgia, graduated from the Atlanta Medical College, and took postgraduate work in the New York
Polyclinic and New York Post Graduate Medical School and Hospital. Locating in Atlanta, he was made Professor of Physiology at the Southern Dental College and the Southern Medical College. He was a master technician and originated a number of surgical procedures. Dr. McRae made many contributions to the early treatment of appendicitis and was far ahead of his time in his articles on “Hernias of the Diaphragm.”

WILLIAM RAWLINGS (1852-1926)

William Rawlings was born on a plantation near Sandersville, Georgia in 1852.Educated in the public schools, he graduated with highest honors from Emory in 1872, where he was recognized for his proficiency in Latin, Greek, and Physics. Later he graduated in Medicine from the University of Maryland Medical School. After two years of practice in Sandersville, Dr. Rawlings visited every medical center in England and middle Europe studying surgery under the greatest figures of the time. In 1893 Dr. Rawlings opened the first private hospital in middle Georgia, and soon made the Rawlings Sanitarium known all over the United States. This humble institution was in reality the Mayo Clinic of the South in that it attracted patients from over thirty states. He was far ahead of his time. He purchased the first x-ray machine in the South. Some of his operations were phenomenal, and he could operate equally well with either hand. As we look back upon the noble figures who have adorned the art of surgery in this State, we find in our heritage a chain of inspired workers. Some were heavenly endowed with talent, and all imbued with great purpose. They shared a burning love of humanity, a quality Osler placed first among the requirements for a successful medical career. Each wore the master word Work engraved upon his forehead. Character, integrity, and a desire to make our profession a little better for having been a part of it is conspicuous in the life of each of our surgical ancestors. This rich background is your precious professional heritage. Hold it to your heart and cherish it. From that great number of Georgia surgeons ho did not teach, did not write, nor leave behind records of heroic accomplishments, we have also inherited much of great value. They lived to lessen sorrow and assuage the anguish of suffering mankind, for a surgeon is a ray of hope and a gleam of light when the loved one is wrapped in black despair. You and I, and all the other surgeons of this great State, have a magnificent inheritance. Let us be proud of it — let us live up to it — let us be worthy of it.