CHANNING, WALTER. 1786-1876. Autograph Letter Signed, to John T. McCoun, 1 p, Boston, January 7, 1861, on half sheet of ruled paper.
Channing writes: "Your favor of Dec. 11 is before me, and but for many hindrances should have been before answered. My late brother, Rev. Dr. William Ellery Channing died Oct 2nd 1841 in Bennington, Vt., while on a return journey from Lennox, Mass, where he had passed the summer. I have selected from many letters his autograph, and only regret it was so hastily written. But my brother from habit wrote very fast, and the one sent is a fair specimen of his penmanship. Very truly yrs. Walter Channing, M.D." A few light stains.
Walter Channing received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania where he studied under Benjamin Rush. He was the first professor of obstetrics at the Harvard Medical School. "In addition to an extensive private practice he was for nearly twenty years on the visiting staff of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Soon after the introduction of anesthetics there in 1846, he became deeply interested in the use of ether in childbirth, and mainly through his influence it was successfully used in such cases in this country.... He was a Unitarian and a great admirer of his brother, William Ellery Channing, the clergyman, and a joke which he made in connection with him has appeared in various papers even to the present time. Someone calling at his house asked for Dr. Channing and on hearing the inquiry the doctor said, 'Which Dr. Channing? My brother preaches and I practice'" (Kelly Burrage 209-300). See also Kass, Midwifery and Medicine in Boston: Walter Channing, M.D. 1786-1876, pp 168-186. John T. McCoun (1803-1861) was a prominent citizen of Troy, New York, who was president of the Farmer's Bank in that city when he corresponded with Channing. He died a few months after receiving Channing's letter.