William Alexander Hammond (1828 – 1900) was an American neurologist, military physician, surgeon and naturalist.
Hammond was one of the most colourful and controversial figures in the history of the United States Army Medical Corps and American medicine.
Hammond rose to the rank of Brigadier General Surgeon in the Army; was court-martialed and dismissed in 1864; published the first American textbook of neurology in 1871; wrote 7 novels; attained degrees in medicine (MD) and law (LLD); translated German textbooks; and… has a toad, a snake and a bird named after him…
- Born 28 August 1828 in Annapolis, MD, USA
- 1848 – MD, New York University
- 1849 – Intern, Pennsylvania Hospital of Philadelphia. Along with Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) he described the neurological aspects of venomous snakebite
- 1849-1860 Surgeon in the American Army rising to Brigadier Surgeon General
- 1862 – Hammond clashed with Edward M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and was court-martialed (1864, verdict reversed 1878).
- 1867-1873 Professor of Nervous and Mental Diseases, Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York
- 1875 – One of the principle co-founders of the American Neurological Association
- 1882 – Co-founder of New York Medical School
- Died 5 January 1900 in Washington, DC, USA
Hammond disease (athetosis)
A condition in which there is a constant succession of slow, writhing, involuntary movements of flexion, extension, pronation, and supination of the fingers and hands, and sometimes of the toes and feet. Usually caused by an extrapyramidal lesion.
Hammond started collecting specimens on the Pacific Railroad Survey and at Fort Riley, for the Smithsonian collection and Spencer Fullerton Baird, naturalist and museum curator.
- Hammond’s Garter Snake: Thamnophis hammondii – Hammond collected some of the first specimens of the two-striped garter snake, a species of aquatic garter snake, endemic to western North America
- Hammond’s spadefoot toad or Western spadefoot toad: Spea hammondii – Baird named the toad after Hammond. (Baird, 1859)
- Hammond’s flycatcher: Empidonax hammondii – Baird named the bird after Hammond.
Key Medical Attributions
In spite of his varied military activities he found time to engage in serious and productive investigations, primarily in physiology. Isolated from any great medical centers, he was original in his research, often using himself as the subject of his experiments. Such as his 1857 ‘Experimental researches relative to the nutritive value and physiological effects of albumen, starch, and gum, when singly and exclusively used as food…’ and of course:
The Physiological Effects of Alcohol and Tobacco upon the Human..
The present paper is intended to exhibit the action of alcohol and tobacco upon the system generally, and, more especially, upon the important functions concerned in the metamorphosis of tissue. The experiments illustrative of the effects of these substances were performed upon myself, and were conducted with all the care and accuracy which my limited facilities permitted. Those only who are familiar with investigations of this character can appreciate the time and labor necessary to conduct them properlyHammond 1856
Court-martial and Army dismissal
- Spiritualism, Mediums
- Fasting girls and stigmata
- Hammond WA. The physiological effects of alcohol and tobacco upon the human system. American journal of the medical sciences 1856
- Hammond WA. Experimental researches relative to the nutritive value and physiological effects of albumen, startch, and gum, when singly and exclusively used as food. 1857 [American Medical Association Prize Essay]
- Hammond WA. On the injection of urea and other substances into the blood. 1858
- Hammond WA. On uraemic intoxication. 1861
- Hammond WA. Two reports on the condition of military hospitals; at Grafton, VA, and Cumberland, MD. 1862
- Hammond WA. Physiological memoirs. 1863
- Hammond WA. A treatise on hygiene: with special reference to the military service. 1863
- Hammond WA. Lectures on venereal diseases. 1864
- Hammond WA. On wakefulness. 1866
- Hammond WA. Insanity in its medico-legal relations. 1867
- Hammond WA. The physiology and pathology of the cerebellum. Quarterly Journal Of Psychological Medicine And Medical Jurisprudence 1869; 3: 209–244
- Meyer M. Electricity in its relations to practical medicine. 1869. 3e Translated Hammond WA
- Hammond WA. Sleep and its derangements. 1869
- Hammond WA. Spinal irritation. 1870
- Hammond WA. The physics and physiology of spiritualism. 1871
- Hammond WA. A treatise on the diseases of the nervous system. 1871 [2e 1876][6e 1886][8e 1889][9e 1891]
- Hammond WA. Insanity in its relations to crime : a text and a commentary. 1873
- Hammond WA. Cerebral hyperaemia, the result of mental strain or emotional disturbance. 1878
- Hammond WA. Fasting Girls: Their Physiology and Pathology. 1879
- Hammond WA. Sexual impotence in the male. 1883
- Hammond WA. Robert Severne, his friends and his enemies. A novel. 1867
- Hammond WA. LAL. A novel. 1884
- Hammond WA. A strong-minded woman, or, Two years after. 1885
- Hammond WA. Doctor Grattan. A novel. 1885
- Hammond WA. Mr. Oldmixon: A Novel. 1885
- Defence of Brigadier General WA. Hammond. 1864
- Hammond WA. A statement of the causes which led to the dismissal of Surgeon-General William A. Hammond from the Army; with a review of the evidence adduced before the court. 1864
- Editorial. Review of: A statement of the causes which led to the dismissal of Surgeon General William A. Hammond from the Army. Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal 1864; 4: 435–436
- Hammond WA. An open letter to Eugene Grissom, superintendent of the Asylum for the Insane. 1878
- Grisson E. True and false experts and a Rejoinder to Dr Hammond’s “Open Letter“. 1878
- Foster FP. William A. Hammond, MD, LLD. New York Medical Journal 1900; 71: 64
- Pilcher JE. XI. Brigadier General William Alexander Hammond. In: The surgeon generals of the Army of the United States of America: a series of biographical sketches of the senior officers of the military medical service from the American revolution to the Philippine pacification. 1905: 47-58
- Hume EE. Ornithologists of the United States Army medical corps thirty-six biographies. 1942
- Drayton ES. William Alexander Hammond 1828-1900, founder of the Army Medical Museum. Mil Surg. 1951; 109(4): 559-565.
- Heck AF. William Alexander Hammond—1828-1900. JAMA. 1963;183(6):466-468
- McHenry LC Jr. The birth of American neurology and highlights from the first 100 years of the Philadelphia Neurological Society, 1884-1984. Neurology. 1985; 35(9): 1326-1330.
- Blustein BE. Preserve Your Love for Science: Life of William A. Hammond, American Neurologist, Cambridge University Press, 1991
- Lanska DJ. William Hammond, the Dynamometer, the Dynamograph. Arch Neurol. 2000; 57(11):1649-1653
- Freemon FR. William Alexander Hammond: the centenary of his death. J Hist Neurosci. 2001;10(3):293-299.
- Fine EJ, Ionita CC, Lohr L. The History of the Development of the Cerebellar Examination. Seminars in Neurology 2002; 22(4): 375-384
- Todman D. William Alexander Hammond (1828-1900). J Neurol. 2008; 255(5): 777-778.
- Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. 2011
- Nickell J. Mystery Of Mollie Fancher, ‘The Fasting Girl’, And Others Who Lived Without Eating. Skeptical Inquirer. 2017; 41(6): 18–21.
- Cavanaugh R. William Alexander Hammond. The Lancet Neurology. 2018; 17(12): 1040
the person behind the name
Associate Professor Curtin Medical School, Curtin University. Emergency physician MA (Oxon) MBChB (Edin) FACEM FFSEM Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Passion for rugby; medical history; medical education; and asynchronous learning #FOAMed evangelist. Co-founder and CTO of Life in the Fast lane | Eponyms | Books | Twitter |