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Frank Hastings Hamilton (1813–1886) was a noted American surgeon, born at Wilmington, Vt.

Hamilton was the son of Calvin and Lucinda (Hastings) Hamilton. Through his mother, he was a descendant of Thomas Hastings who came from the East Anglia region of England to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1634.[1] Hamilton graduated from Union College in 1830 and received the degree of M.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1835.

After teaching in various colleges, he became in 1861 professor in the Bellevue Hospital Medical College. He was a military surgeon for two years in the Civil War and was appointed medical inspector with the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1863. Among the many positions of honor and trust which he held was the presidency of the New York Society of Medical Jurisprudence.

He served as consulting surgeon to various hospitals and asylums and became widely known as an authority on surgery, his three large works having a recognized place in the literature of medical science. They are:

  • Treatise on Fractures and Dislocations (1860; fifth edition, 1880)
  • Practical Treatise on Military Surgery (1861)
  • The Principles and Practice of Surgery (1872)
File:Garfield's Doctors Consulting.jpg

Doctors discuss Garfield's wounds.

In his later years, his place in history was secured by a tragic event. "Almost immediately after President Garfield was shot in 1881, Mrs. Garfield insisted upon sending for Dr. Hamilton. He was telegraphed for, and a special train being provided him, he went directly to the President's bedside. Until the President died, Dr. Hamilton in connection with Drs. Bliss and Agnew was almost constantly in attendance."[2]


  • Hamilton's bandage — a compound bandage for the lower jaw, composed of a leather string with straps of linen webbing.
  • Hamilton's pseudophlegmon — a circumscribed swelling which may become red and indurated, but never suppurates.
  • Hamilton's test — When the shoulder joint is luxated, a rule or straight rod applied to the humerus can be made to touch the outer condyle and the acromion at the same time.
Dorland's Medical Dictionary (1938)

See also[]


  1. Buckminster, Lydia N.H., The Hastings Memorial, A Genealogical Account of the Descendants of Thomas Hastings of Watertown, Mass. from 1634 to 1864. Boston: Samuel G. Drake Publisher (an undated NEHGS photoduplicate of the 1866 edition).
  2. Death of Noted Physician ..., New York Times, Aug. 12, 1886, 5.