July 21: Gustavus William Pope (1902)

Gustavus William Pope was a noted Washington physician as well as a science fiction author. In 1894, Pope wrote what he called a “scientific novel” entitled, Journey to Mars the Wonderful World: Its Beauty and Splendor; Its Mighty Races and Kingdoms; Its Final Doom. A sequel, Journey to Venus the Primeval World; Its Wondrous Creations and Gigantic Monsters, followed in 1895. Pope wrote books on a range of other subjects, including one regarding Shakespeare’s supposed Roman Catholicism.

Pope followed in his father’s footsteps as a physician. He studied medicine at the University of New York. He became assistant physician to the New York State Lunatic Asylum. For two years, he was physician to the Oneida Almshouse, and while there turned his attention to the claims of homeopathy, a system of alternative medicine based on the doctrine that like cures like – a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy people would cure similar symptoms in sick people. Pope became convinced of its superiority over the allopathic system of practice. Pope became the senior homeopathic physician in Washington and secured an extensive practice. In 1856, Dr. Pope treated the first case of diphtheria that ever appeared in Washington and in the following year treated about one hundred cases, losing only three. Pope’s son, Joshua, was baptized at Epiphany in 1859. A year later, Pope and his wife were baptized and then confirmed at the church.

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