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Monadnock Moment No. 177
Era 4: Expansion and Reform - 1800 to 1860
Dr. Twitchell and the Farmer
Dr. Amos Twitchell of Keene lectured and wrote about the danger of tobacco use during the early years of the 19th century, long before it was confirmed that tobacco caused serious health problems. A story about Dr. Twitchell and one of his patients illustrates his views on tobacco use.
One day in his travels Dr. Twitchell met a farmer from whom he often purchased grain. The farmer looked miserable and Dr. Twitchell asked about the man's health. The farmer replied: "Almost gone, doctor. I shall never bring you any more corn. The physicians have all given up and tell me I am dying of consumption." Dr. Twitchell said that he was sorry that he would get no more corn, but that he thought he might be able to cure the man. The farmer replied that it was too late and that he must prepare to die.
The doctor offered to make a bargain with the man. The farmer had to agree to follow Twitchell's prescription for three months. If he recovered he was to pay the doctor fifty bushels of corn, but if he died, the doctor would pay the man's family the equivalent of the corn in cash. After some hesitation, the man agreed. Dr. Twitchell directed the man to take the tobacco from his mouth and never to touch tobacco again in any form.
Six months later the doctor met up with the man, who was apparently in perfect health, and claimed the corn. The man refused, saying that his wife thought fifty bushels of corn was more than his life was worth. The two compromised and the farmer gave Dr. Twitchell three or four bushels of corn and a bushel of white beans.