Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Wheaton, Levi

Levi Wheaton (1761-1851), professor of the theory and practice of medicine, was born in Providence on February 6, 1761. He attended Rhode Island College before the Revolutionary War. During the war he served as a surgeon on a privateer which was captured in the fall of 1782, after which he was placed on surgical duty on the prison ship Falmouth. In 1782 he wrote to the Brown Corporation, requesting a degree, which was granted. In his petition he mentioned that he had continued his studies alone until 1778 when he began the study of “physick” at the military hospital in Rhode Island, and had later “put himself under the direction of a Gentleman of the faculty.” In addition to his medical experience during the war, he studied with Dr. Joshua Babcock of Westerly and Dr. William Bowen of Providence. He practiced medicine in Hudson, New York, and in New York City, and then returned to Providence. Although he lacked formal education in medicine, in 1812, Brown, having begun medical lectures the year before, awarded him an honorary M.D. degree, and in 1815, appointed him professor of the theory and practice of medicine. He wrote articles for medical journals and newspapers, and was a contributor to the Boston Medical & Surgical Journal, using the pseudonym “Senex.” He was the first of the medical professors to resign, when President Wayland required their residence in the college. He continued to have private medical students in his practice, and he also continued to be a member of the Board of Trustees of Brown until his death on August 29, 1851.