Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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VAN BUREN, William Holme, surgeon, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5 April, 1819; died in New York city, 25 March, 1888. His grandfather, Beekman, and his great-grandfather, Abraham, who came from Holland in 1700, after studying under Boerhaave at Leyden, were physicians to the New York city almshouse. He was a student at Yale of the class of 1838 for two years, and was subsequently granted his degree. On leaving college, he studied medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and in the Paris hospitals. He received his diploma from the University of Pennsylvania in 1840, presenting an essay on "Immovable Apparatus," which was published by the faculty, and on 15 June of that year was appointed an assistant surgeon in the United States army. Resigning on 31 December. 1845, he went to New York city to assist his father-in-law, Valentine Mort, in his surgical clinic in the medical department of the University of the city of New York. He soon took high rank both as an operative surgeon and family practitioner, also as a teacher and demonstrator of anatomy and surgery. When Bellevue hospital was organized in 1847 he was appointed one of the surgeons. In 1849 he became surgeon to St. Vincent hospital, and in 1852 he was elected to the chair of anatomy in New York university medical college. He was visiting surgeon to New York hospital from 1852 till 1868, and from the latter date consulting surgeon. He was consulting surgeon also to Bellevue and Charity hospitals. He was one of the founders of the United States sanitary commission in 1861, and served as the medical member of its executive committee throughout the civil war, declining the appointment of surgeon-general of the United States army. He resigned his professorship in the University medical college in 1866, on being elected professor of surgery for the newly established department of diseases of the genito-urinary system in Bellevue hospital medical college. In 1868 this chair was combined with that of principles and practice of surgery, and in 1871-'3 he acted as professor of clinical surgery also. He was vice-president of the New York academy of medicine, president of the New York pathological society, and a corresponding member of the Paris surgical society. Yale conferred on him the degree of LL.D. in 1879. Dr. Van Buren performed amputation at the hip-joint, removed foreign bodies from the trachea, and tied the internal and external iliac and the subclavian arteries. In abscess of the breast, and often in cases of carbuncle, he was averse to the use of the knife, placing more reliance than surgeons commonly do in the reparative processes of nature. He gave much study to hereditary taints and constitutional tendencies, and in later life, though still famed for his skill in amputations and other operations of general surgery, principally devoted his attention to the specialty of diseases of the genito-urinary organs. Besides many medical papers, he published, with Dr. Charles E. Isaacs, a translation of " Bernard and Huette's Manual of Operative Surgery and Medical Anatomy" (New York, 1855); a translation of Charles Motel's "Compendium of Human Histology" (New York and London, 1861); "Contributions to Practical Surgery " (Philadelphia, 1865); "Lectures on Diseases of the Rectum" (New York, 1870) ; and, with his pupil, Dr. Edward L. Keyes, "Text-book on Diseases of the Genito-Urinary Organs, with Syphilis" (1874).
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