Written by Chris Dalrymple, DC   
Wednesday, August 12, 2015 09:28 AM

Anson JonesThe medical practice act had its roots in the Republic of Texas.  

In 1837, the Medical Practice Act was written by Dr. Anson Jones, doctor, congressman, and the last president of the Republic of Texas. One of the few formally trained physicians in Texas at that time, Jones was licensed to practice in 1820 and received his M.D. degree 7 years later in 1827. In October 1832 he renounced medicine and became a commission merchant in New Orleans, where he lived through cholera and yellow fever epidemics and a series of failures that left him despondent and broke.  

In October 1833, at the suggestion of Jeremiah Brown, Jones drifted to Texas. During the First Congress of the republic, Jones became increasingly interested in public questions and critical of congressional policies. He was elected a representative to the Second Congress where he helped formulate legislation to regulate medical practice and advocated a uniform system of education and an endowment for a university.  

The Congress of the Republic of Texas then created the Board of Medical Censors on December 14, 1837 for the purposes of granting licenses to practice medicine and surgery in the republic. The board was scheduled to meet once each year, but difficulty of transportation over long distances and Indian attacks frequently prevented annual meetings.

The law required that the board be composed of one physician from each senatorial district and that the members be graduates of medicine and surgery from authorized colleges and universities.  A twenty-dollar fee was collected from those who passed an examination. Without a license, physicians could not collect unpaid fees in court.

One financial conversion website notes that $20 in 1837 was the approximate equivalent of $400 to $500 in current dollars.

How the future USA looked in 1837: