Moultrie, James, Jr.

March 7, 1793–May 29, 1869

Moultrie devoted the rest of his life to medical practice, medical education, organized medicine, and the community, becoming the most prominent South Carolinian in the medical profession during the nineteenth century

Physician, medical educator. Moultrie was born in Charleston on March 7, 1793, the son of James Moultrie, Sr., and Catherine Judith Lennox. The son, grandson, and great-grandson of physicians, Moultrie received his early education in England. When war between the United States and Great Britain appeared imminent, he returned to South Carolina to finish his studies. After graduating from South Carolina College and studying medicine with two preceptors (medical tutors) in Charleston, he entered the University of Pennsylvania and received his medical degree in 1812. He served as a civilian physician with a South Carolina artillery battalion during the War of 1812 and soon afterward began his practice in Charleston, succeeding his father as port physician. On November 12, 1818, he married Sarah Louise Shrewsbury. They had no children.

Moultrie devoted the rest of his life to medical practice, medical education, organized medicine, and the community, becoming the most prominent South Carolinian in the medical profession during the nineteenth century. He joined the Medical Society of South Carolina, a local Charleston organization, in 1812 and served as its president from 1820 to 1821. He entered the national medical scene in 1818 to work with representatives of other states on developing a pharmacopoeia (a book describing drugs and their uses). In 1847 he was sent by the Medical Society to represent South Carolina in the organizing of the American Medical Association (AMA) and was elected vice president. He became president of the AMA at a meeting in Charleston in 1850. He also helped organize the South Carolina Medical Association in 1848 and was elected its first president.

In 1827 Moultrie made a significant contribution to a circular on the need to improve medical education, which the Medical Society distributed to medical schools across the county. In 1836 Moultrie made a formal presentation of his views on medical education to several influential organizations, including the state legislature and the South Carolina Society for the Advancement of Learning. Moultrie’s views on the study of medicine were far in advance of their time. He felt that American medical schools were behind those in Europe and advocated premedical preparation, a medical course of eight months for four successive years, special training for medical teachers, and a full-time salaried faculty. These standards did not gain full acceptance and implementation until the twentieth century.

Moultrie played a role in the establishment of the Medical College of South Carolina, which opened in 1824, but he declined the professorship in anatomy when the legislature failed to offer financial support. In 1833, after a reorganization of the Medical College, he accepted the professorship in physiology.

Moultrie’s interests carried beyond medicine. He was a musician and had a strong attachment to fine arts and literature. In addition to his medical associations, he was a member of the Elliott Natural History Society and the South Carolina Historical Society. He accumulated a large and diverse library that was destroyed during the Federal occupation of Charleston in 1865. He died in Charleston on May 29, 1869, and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery.

Davis, N. S. History of the American Medical Association from its Organization up to January, 1855. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo, 1855.

Waring, Joseph Ioor. A History of Medicine in South Carolina. Vol. 2, 1825–1900. Columbia: South Carolina Medical Association, 1967.

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The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Moultrie, James, Jr.
  • Coverage March 7, 1793–May 29, 1869
  • Author
  • Keywords Physician, medical educator, served as a civilian physician with a South Carolina artillery battalion during the War of 1812, sent by the Medical Society to represent South Carolina in the organizing of the American Medical Association (AMA) and was elected vice president, played a role in the establishment of the Medical College of South Carolina, member of the Elliott Natural History Society and the South Carolina Historical Society
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date March 3, 2024
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update August 15, 2022
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