History of the Medical College of Georgia


1857-1861

The growing tensions between the North and South resulted in few Southern medical students attending school in Northern colleges and universities in the 1850s. Southern students who went to Northern schools complained about harassment. The Augusta Herald joined other Southern newspapers in urging Southern students to return home where they would not experience insults. The growing tensions reached a pinnacle December 20, 1859 with several Southern students attending the Northern schools meeting to protest the hostilities and deciding a course of action. They sent several telegrams to Southern schools asking for acceptance into their programs. Dean Newton agreed to accept these students without charging tuition and the graduating students paid only the $10 diploma fee. Thirteen students arrived in Augusta on Christmas Day and attended classes on Monday. After the 1859-1860 session, the faculty approved several improvements for the Medical College of Georgia, such as cleaning the dissecting room and painting the exterior. The outbreak of the War led the school to close February 15, 1861, two weeks early.

SMSJ 1861
SMSJ 1861
Campbell's Instruments
Campbell's Instruments

Dr. Ignatius Poultney Garvin (1804-1880)
Dean, 1857-1861

Ignatius Garvin, DeanDr. Ignatius Poultney Garvin graduated with the first graduating class of the Medical College of South Carolina in 1825. He was a founding member of the Board of Trustees and a member of the original faculty of the Medical College of Georgia. In 1829, he held the professor of anatomy and surgery chair for one year, then he left to pursue private practice. In 1839, MCG named him professor of materia medica and therapeutics, and from 1857-1861, he served as dean. After the devastating yellow fever epidemic of 1839 in Augusta, Dr. Garvin and colleagues were appointed to study its causes, and the subsequent report was hailed as a valuable contribution to medical literature. His school and his family were greatly affected by the epidemic, as one of its victims was Dr. Milton Antony, founder of the school and father of Dr. Garvin's wife, Sarah Ann. He was elected to represent the school at the national medical convention in 1847 where he proposed implementing educational standards for all medical schools, a theme common to the founding fathers. Besides his active professional life, he also participated in the civic affairs of Augusta. He was elected mayor of Augusta in 1848 and also served as treasurer of Augusta for over 15 years. He retired from MCG in 1867.