Benjamin Rush was a leading educator, helping start five colleges and universities, including the first college for women. Additionally, he is called the “Father of American Medicine,” personally trained three thousand students for their medical degrees, published a number of medical textbooks, and made numerous medical discoveries which still benefit us today. He was also a founder of America’s first abolition society and for forty years was a national leader in the abolition movement.
Because of his faith, we still enjoy the fruit of his labors. For example, in 1791, Dr. Rush founded “The First Day Society” which grew into today’s Sunday Schools. Additionally, he also started America’s first Bible society: The Bible Society of Philadelphia. The original constitution for that Bible society was authored by Dr. Rush. In that constitution, Dr. Rush listed two important reasons that America needed Bible societies: first, he pointed out that with a Bible, every individual could discover how to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ; second, he argued that if every individual owned a Bible – and would study and obey it – that all of our social problems, including crime, slavery, etc., would diminish.
As Dr. Rush explained, it is in living by the Bible that man becomes both “humanized and civilized.” In looking for ways to print Bibles faster and more economically, Dr. Rush and the Society came across what was called stereotyped printing – an early form of mass production. With the help of President James Madison and an act passed by Congress in the Capitol building, Dr. Rush’s Bible society obtained stereotype plates by which they could mass produce Bibles.
The result was America’s first mass-produced, stereotyped Bible – and it came about through the efforts of Dr. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence.Consider next signer Francis Hopkinson. He was a church music director, a choir leader, and the editor of a music work from 1767 – one of the first hymnals printed in America. His work took the one hundred and fifty Psalms and set them all to music so that the Psalms could be sung much as King David had done over two thousand years before. Interestingly, his work was one of the earliest in America to include musical notation and place notes in a staff so that the melody could be seen. This unique Bible hymnbook was the work of Declaration signer, Francis Hopkinson.