Hans Burch Gram



Hans Burch Gram

Hans Burch Gram was born in Boston in 1787, the son of the secretary to the Danish governor of Santa Cruz. In 1806 he went to Copenhagen to claim his grandfather's estate.

Hans Gram was educated at The Royal Medical and Surgical Institute, and appointed Assistant Surgeon at The National Military and Naval Hospital during the Napoleonic Wars, earning the degree C.M.L. or Magister of Surgery degree in 1816.

After resigning this position he removed to Copenhagen and became acquainted with Hans Christian Lund, the earliest and most prominent of the Danish homeopaths, who may have been a student of Hahnemann. Gram studied the homeopathic system from 1823-1824.

Dr. Gram returned to America in 1825 and settled with his brother Neils in New York City. His endorsement of notes for his brother led to a severe financial loss that required him to resume medical practice immediately.

Believing the American spirit would be receptive to the tenets of the new system, he published his translation of Hahnemann's "Spirit of the Homeopathic Doctrine" in 1825. He dedicated it to David Hosack, prominent New York City physician and president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The pamphlet was met with indifference, Hosack himself neglecting to read it.

It has been claimed that Gram's imperfect translation was responsible for the poor reception of the essay, but it may be due more to the disfavor the of the city's physicians upon learning he was a homeopath. Like Hahnemann, he was highly respected for his talent and learning, but subsequently persecuted for his heresy.

As a Mason, he became acquainted with a physician, Robert Folger, who in 1826 read Gram's pamphlet and an unpublished manuscript on the pharmacodynamics of medicines.

After losing the manuscript and ridiculing homeopathy, Folger was later allowed Gram to treat several of his patients, these among the first homeopathic patients in America. Upon their recovery, Folger studied German and Hahnemann's works, becoming Gram's student and assistant.

Gram remained in New York when Folger left for North Carolina in 1828. It was his intention to join Folger there, but the latter gave up his practice and turned his attention to mining.

Folger introduced gram to Ferdinand Wilsey, and Wilsey was to soon become one of his early patients, the treatment of Dr. John Gray being unsuccessful. Gray was most skeptical of the cure, but allowed Gram to treat his most difficult cases.

His respect for Gram's culture and experience, as well as the cure of his patients, led Gray to become a homeopathic convert. Gray became one of the most prominent of New York's pioneer homeopaths, responsible for the dissemination of homeopathy into neighboring states.

Gram's position as president of the New York Medical and Philosophical Society, enabled him to convert a number of physicians, whose success in the cholera epidemic of 1832, turned New York City into a homeopathic center.

Many of these physicians were to later spread the doctrine of Hahnemann to Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey and throughout New York State. Gram was to continue as mentor to this pioneering group of New York homeopaths until his death in 1840.

Though little known to the current generation of homeopaths, all revered Gram as a brilliant, cultured physician. In 1869, by resolution of New York and Massachusetts homeopaths, efforts were made to erect a monument on his unmarked grave.

Today no monument is present. A small stone in the gnarled roots of an old tree marks the grave of this Danish physician and surgeon, true Father of Homeopathy in America.