November 27: Tullio Suzzara Verdi (1902)

Dr. Tullio Suzzara Verdi was a homeopathic physician in Washington, D.C. in the latter 19th Century. A native of Italy, Verdi was born in 1829 in Mantua. After arriving in the U.S. in 1850, he met Giuseppe Garibaldi who gave him letters of introduction to the Professor of Modern Languages at Brown University in Rhode Island. There he supported himself by the teaching of French and Italian, learning English along the way. After only two years, he had learned English well enough to lecture on the Italian revolution. Throughout his professorship, he studied medicine in his leisure hours under Dr. Okie, an eminent Providence homeopath. In 1854, he attended medical lectures in Philadelphia from which he received diplomas from both the allopathic and the homeopathic schools. While he practiced successfully first in Newport, R. I., in 1857, he moved to Washington, D.C., to seek a larger stage.

In 1860, Verdi married Rebecca Dewey at the Church of the Epiphany. The couple’s first child, Sophia Matilda, was baptized at the church in June 1864 and buried from there one month later. A second daughter, Sophie Wilkins, was baptized in 1867. Dr. Verdi’s office was located at 14th and H Streets. One of his patients was Secretary of State William Seward. Verdi was the first to respond after Seward was attacked on the night of Lincoln’s assassination. Verdi was elected to the staff of the National Homeopathic Hospital after it was created in 1881. In March 1871, he was given a Presidential appointment as a member of the first and only District of Columbia Board of Health created by Congress. That Board elected him Secretary, Health Officer of the District and Chairman of the Sanitary Commission. It was his energy that led to the obtaining from Congress of the Charter for the Washington Homeopathic Medical Society, for which he served two years as president.

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