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African Americans and Getting Rights Back after Abolishing Slavery in 1865

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In the 1800’s, there was a lot of events that impacted a large population of African Americans making their lives difficult to accomplish many things. One of the greatest events that lead to the aid in the relief of tension between the onslaught of African Americans and Americans were African Americans getting their rights back after abolishing slavery in 1865. If I could go back in time to meet one of many milestone leaders in the 1800s era, I would choose Daniel Hale Williams who was the first African American who performed a successful pericardium heart surgery in Chicago, Illinois.

Daniel Hale Williams led many monumental moments for future students, showing them that no matter what your journey and background is you can still have a great future if you pursue your dreams. Daniel was born in Hollidaysburg, on January 18, 1858.When Williams was a little boy, he had to move around the united states various times because of afflicting situations in his life. Daniel later had a passion for learning new things for example barbering that he learned from his father who owned an inherited barbershop that has been passed down his blood line. The one thing that his father taught his siblings and him before dying, was that if you ever want a better life, you must start with a good education. A year before he passed away, Daniel, and his family in 1865, eventually moved to Annapolis in Maryland to live with their mother’s family.

By the time he was 10 he was sent to live with one of his family’s friends who owned a training school for boys that showed little boys how to become shoemakers. Daniel at age 15 ran away to a railroad station because he no longer liked the idea of shoe making so he asked a friend who worked there, to provide him a train ticket, so Daniel could visit his mother in Illinois. When Daniel arrived in Rockford, Illinois, he found his mother and two of his sisters living with one of their cousins who let Daniel stay at their house. Williams soon found a high school in town that was open for a few months annually. While he went to school in the daytime, he would practice barbering afterschool.

Around 1878, when Williams was 22 he started having a peak interest in studying medicine. He found out that Dr. Henry Palmer was the best doctor known in Wisconsin which lead to his persistence in employment. Dr. Henry employed Daniel and tasked him simple office work for example cleaning, organizing, and assisting with driving to patient’s homes. If Williams was not helping Dr. Henry Palmer with his patients or at the office, he would be reading his medical books to try to learn. When Dr. Henry Palmer deemed Williams and his other two apprentices ready to go to an actual medical school, he told them about the best school there was in the state; Chicago Medical School. Williams really wanted to go to this school along with the other competitors, but he did not have enough money. He sent a letter to his family, and family friends. They all replied by letting him know that they were unfortunately not able to help him with his financial crisis.

At this point of time , the New York stock markets also crashed leading to a depression and deflation of prices. This affected everyone in the United States but mainly those who were lower class or colored like Williams and his family. Williams sent another letter asking for money to one of his friends. His name was Harry Anderson who gladly took out a loan and helped Daniel pay for his first two years of medical school.

Daniel moved to Chicago. He asked a family friends if he could live with her and she replied; yes. She also allowed him to work for her by caring for her horses and carriages so he can save some extra money. These side tasks allowed Williams to pay for his room and school at the time. By William’s last year in medical school, he needed some more money to finish his degree so his brother, Price, helped him finish his third year. At age 27, Daniel Williams graduated from medical school . After graduating his friend Mrs. Jones, suggested everyone she knew to go to Williams, which led to him having not just black patients, but also white patients. Daniel was very passionate about his work. He showed this by scrubbing his patients room, so it would minimize all the possibilities of infections after his finished his diligence. He did this because he couldn’t work with any hospital. Williams did however start making a name for himself after the college of medicine chose him to teach some of their medical students’ anatomy, and surgical skills in 1884.

Williams later got accepted to work in Freedmen’s hospital, he really advocated on having staff members of different races and having them learn the same procedures and methods of medicine as he did. A year after, he helped create the National Medical Association . However, the American Medical Association did not accept any African Americans nor African American doctors.

Daniel founded the Provident Hospital Association so that people of all races could be treated and seen by doctors, unlike the other hospitals around who segregated African Americans. Daniels’s provident hospital allowed money donations from people to become access into memberships of the association. Some very rich people in this era gave large sums of money and Sunday School children gave their pennies as well to feel like a part of the movement. During the depression era, the hospital faced one of its greatest milestone challenges by not having enough money and having to depend on the community to supply them their basic needs in the hospital.

For example, bedding, and services. The hospital later had aid from Williams cousin, Fredrick Douglas, who was one of the hospitals biggest funder. In return for their services, Williams treated them to chicken suppers and dances. All the money collected went toward the hospital that they were refurbishing since it was an abandoned building that they bought at first. The building later held a dozen beds and was ran by seven different groups of African Americans who were considered as the elitist doctors and nurses-in-training that got selected by Williams.

One day Daniel had a patient arrive at his hospital with a stab wound in his chest. This gentleman told Daniel that his name was Cornish, James and he had gotten into an altercation with another man leading into a bar fight. Daniel saw that his stab wound was bad and if it would have been any doctor they would have told him that he would be dying soon because of how risky it was to open a person up. These doctors knew how delicate of a procedure it was, and if one were to have opened James up, he would have died from infection, or have a chance of messing something inside. But not Dr. Daniel Williams, he had taken his time with James in the operating theater and made sure that the room he was in was sterilized before and after. Daniel made a bold move in a decision of life or death of a patient. Mr. Cornish could have either successfully been saved or have died and would have resulted in a bad downfall for William. A pericardium rupture from a severe trauma, like a stab wound, would only be found in an autopsy because it is hard to see the rupture on an x-ray machine if they were to perform during this century. In Williams century, there was no x-ray machines, or cat scans, or any fancy medicine that would have helped guide him; he went in completely blind. When he made the incision on Jame’s chest, he saw that the pericardium sac had a tear from the blade. A pericardium sac is like a pillow for your heart, it helps protect it. Williams simply stitched the tear up and closed his chest. After a month James Cornish was still alive, and Williams performed another minor procedure to drain some extra fluid that he had in his heart sac and closed him back up. Once he saw that James was recovering well after close to two months, he sent him on his way home. On the ninth of July 1893, Daniel H Williams made history as the first African American to have performed a successful pericardium surgery.

Going back in this era I would not only have learned why but who was Daniel Hale Williams. I could have seen first-hand his greatest accomplishment and I would have loved to experience the rewarding effects of his youth to later years. I learned that no matter where you come from or have experienced because of age, sex, race, you can make an impact if you have a dream you inspire to accomplish. Who knows? one day I could also be one of the greatest in my career field and take a large risk that would get me known.

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African Americans and getting rights back after abolishing slavery in 1865. (2019, March 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 25, 2020, from
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