Journal of Libertarian Studies

The Early Development of Medical Licensing Laws in the United States 1875-1900

The Journal of Libertarian Studies

The condition of the American medical profession at the close of the Civil War was, in almost every particular, significantly different from that which obtains today. The profession was, throughout the country, unlicensed and anyone who had the inclination to set himself up as a physician could do so, the exigencies of the market alone determining who would prove successful in the field and who not. Medical schools abounded, the great bulk of which were privately owned and operated and the prospective student could gain admission to even the best of them without great difficulty. With free entry into the profession possible and education in medicine cheap and readily available, large numbers of men entered practice. Indeed in 1860 the census data indicate that the country possessed over 55,000 physicians, or 175 per 100,000 population, almost certainly the highest number of doctors per capita of any nation in the world.

Volume 3, Number 1 (1979)


Hamowy, Ronald. “The Early Development of Medical Licensing Laws in the United States 1875-1900.” Journal of Libertarian Studies 3, No.1 (1979): 73-119.

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