Biographies of Homeopaths Homeopathy Papers

A Remembrance of Carroll Dunham, M. D. 1828-1887

A remembrance of Carroll Dunham, M. D.  President American Institute of Homœopathy and of the World’s Homœopathic Convention of 1876. A Dean of New York Homœopathic Medical College.


Dr. Carroll Dunham, M. D. was President of the American Institute of Homœopathy and of the World’s Homœopathic Convention of 1876. He served as Dean of the New York Homœopathic Medical College and was one of the original incorporators of the New York State Homœopathic Asylum for the Insane.  He authored Lectures on Materia Medica, The Science of Therapeutics and How To Take The Case.

A colleague described him as “Our noblest and best man, one who was the heart and soul of the highest work done in our profession”

Dunham once received a dissecting wound that nearly killed him, but he cured himself with Lachesis.  Another time, he developed rheumatic carditis and was given up by the conventional doctors. His friend Dr. Constantine Hering, cured him with Lithium carb.

Carroll Dunham M.D.

No event in the history of homœopathy in this country has awakened so profound an impression or awakened such universal regret as the death of this eminent and estimable physician. Justly regarded by his colleagues, not in America only but in Europe also, as one of the most able, accomplished and zealous expositors of the Hahnemannian reform in medicine, and possessing in a remarkable degree the confidence of the entire homœopathic profession, his loss is universally felt as a public bereavement.

To the American Institute of Homœopathy, of which he was the honored and efficient president during the last year of his life and during the most eventful year of its existence, his loss is well nigh irreparable.

The extraordinary energy, tact and judgment that he displayed in organizing and successfully carrying through the great homœopathic convention of last year, its comprehensive plan and judicious settlement of details, and the dignity, courtesy and perfect impartiality that marked his conduct in the presidential office, elicited the spontaneous and universal tribute of admiration.

Dr. Dunham was born in New York in 1828. His father, Mr. Edward W. Dunham, was a substantial and prosperous merchant of the old school, of strictest integrity, exact and methodical in his business transactions. A friend of learning and himself a man of culture, he gave his son the advantages of a complete education.

During the cholera epidemic of 1834 Carroll, then six years old, had the misfortune to lose his mother, and was himself very near falling a victim to the prevailing sickness. Soon after this the family removed to Brooklyn, and at a proper age he was sent to an excellent boarding school.

At fifteen he matriculated at Columbia College, from which he was graduated, with honor in 1847. Even as a school boy he was of a quiet, studious disposition, more given to reading than play.

After leaving college, in accordance with his father’s preference and his own tastes, he began the study of medicine, placing himself as a pupil under the direction of Dr. Whittaker, an old school physician of much repute as a trainer of medical students.

Having been relieved of a trying illness by homœopathic treatment, he determined to investigate the claims of the new school, and did so during the whole course of studies, becoming in the end a firm adherent of its principles and practice. In this decision he was confirmed by his father, who had also from observation and personal experience of its advantages been fully converted to homœopathy.

Soon after receiving his degree of doctor of medicine, in 1850, he went to Europe, partly for the purpose of general medical and scientific improvement, but especially with the design of studying in the land of its birth the methods and results of the homœopathic practice as compared with those of the best allopathic treatment.

In pursuance of this double plan he visited Dublin, where he served a term in the lying-in hospital, Paris, Vienna and other centers of medical science. He seized every opportunity of observing, with a discrimination beyond his years, the different kinds of treatment in hospitals and private practice.

Proceeding to Munster, the residence of Dr. Von Bœnninghausen, he became an assiduous pupil of that distinguished practitioner, daily attending at his office and making careful and elaborate notes of the cases that he saw, their treatment and the results.

Having thus profitably spent a year in the diligent prosecution of his mission, he returned home fully persuaded of the truth of the great therapeutic principle propounded by Hahnemann, and an ardent disciple and admirer of that master. During the period of his absence he had not only satisfied himself of the substantial verity of the fundamental dogmas of homœopathy, but had acquired already a considerable knowledge of its materia medica, a department for which he seems to have had a particular aptitude.

Immediately after his return from abroad Dr. Dunham commenced in Brooklyn the practice of the profession for which he had made such protracted and conscientious preparation, and in which he subsequently became such a shining light.

After practicing four or five years in Brooklyn with good success, notwithstanding some interruptions from sickness it was deemed necessary for sanitary reasons to take a vacation. He again went to Europe, and a second time spent several weeks in Munster, renewing his studies with Bœnninghausen and passing the greater part of every day with him. The winter was passed in Italy, where he acquired the Italian language and reviewed his studies in anatomy.

He visited the West Indies and other foreign parts in search of health or relief. Finally, he became a resident of the beautiful and picturesque village of Irvington-on-the-Hudson, where he continued to reside until his death.

He passed much time, however, in New York, both before and after his removal to Irvington, keeping an office there and attending to professional calls as his health and strength allowed.

His last voyage to Europe, on which he was accompanied by his whole family and which was undertaken in the fall of 1874, seemed to many of his friends so hopeless of benefit that they scarcely dared to anticipate his return.. Happily, however, the result of this absence of about one year was so much more favorable to his health than was expected that he came back at the end of that time greatly improved in strength and spirits.

Some time before his last enforced departure, as early, indeed, as 1871, at a meeting of the American Institute of Homœopathy, Dr. Dunham announced a proposal for holding an international congress of the disciples of Hahnemann on the occasion of our American centennial jubilee in 1876.

The idea was received with enthusiasm and a committee was appointed, of which, of course, he was chief, to make the preparatory arrangements and secure, if possible, the co-operation of homœopathists in other countries. The history of that unprecedented gathering will be a lasting and glorious memorial of the zeal, foresight and self-sacrificing devotion of its originator.

Dr. Dunham was a facile and agreeable writer, clear in his statements and felicitous in expression. His writings were chiefly contributions to the medical journals of his own school and comprise some of the most lucid and convincing expositions extant of the doctrines and practice of homœopathy. From 1860 he was for three years editor of the “American Homœopathic Review.”

In 1865 he accepted the professorship of materia medica in the New York Homœopathic Medical College, a position that he filled for several years with great success. During the latter part of his incumbency, he was also dean of the college, which by his administration was completely reorganized and established upon a permanent and prosperous basis.

As one of the original incorporators of the New York State Homœopathic Asylum for the Insane, he labored earnestly for the foundation of that, the first institution of the kind in the world. At different times his services were invoked in various official positions of responsibility in the numerous societies and institutions that were so fortunate as to enjoy his co-operation.

While president of the New York County Homœopathic Medical Society he always went to the meetings with some scientific papers -“papers concealed about his person”- ready to be brought forth in the case of the failure of any appointed essayist.

With a large and well balanced mind, a clear and discriminating judgment, a great store of learning gathered from books and observation, with definite views on most questions of human interest, he combined a wonderful simplicity and purity of character and an amiable and cheerful disposition. While his public discourses were models of clear and concise argumentation, the richness and sprightliness of his ordinary conversation made him the charm of the social and domestic circle.


About the author

William Harvey King

William Harvey King was born in the village of Waverly, Tioga county, New York, February 21. 1861. Under the persuasion of an uncle, he went to New York city and in September, 1880, matriculated at the New York Homœopathic Medical College, and after a two years' course in that institution was graduated (March 16, 1882) M. D., fourth honorable mention man of his class. His degree of doctor of laws was conferred by the Central University of Iowa in 1902.
From 1897 to 1903 Dr. King held the chair of electro-therapeutics in the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women. From 1885 to 1894 he was electro-therapeutist to Hahnemann Hospital, New York city. He held membership in the American X-Ray Society, the National Society of Electro-Therapeutists, the American Institute of Homœopathy and the New York State Homœopathic Medical Society.

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