Henry Clay Allen 1836 - 1909
January 28, 2008
Henry C. Allen 1836 - 1909 was Professor of Diseases of the Skin and Miasmatics and founder of the Hering Medical College, City Physician at the Baptist Hospital and the Hering Hospital, an honorable senior of the American Institute of Homeopathy, a member of the International Hahnemannian Association, the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Association, the Englewood Homeopathic Medical Society, the Regular Homeopathic Medical Society of Chicago, Honorary Vice-President of the Cooper Club of London, England, Honorary Member of the Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio State Medical Societies and Honorary Member of the Homeopathic Society of Calcutta, India.
Allen was owner and editor of the Medical Advance for many years. Besides writing many articles in this and other magazines he wrote numerous books which are still standard textbooks for modern homeopaths.
Allen was the son of Hugh and Martha Billings Allen. On his paternal side, he was a descendant of that distinguished family of Vermonters of the same name, Gen. Ira Allen and Ethan Allen, both famous in the revolution.
On his maternal side, the Billings’ were well known among the Colonial families of Massachussetts Bay, and one of them, the great-grand-father of Dr. Allen, owned the farm lands on which the present city of Salem is built.
After selling this property, the family moved to Deerfield, in the Connecticut Valley and were there at the time the Indians pillaged and ravaged that part of the country.
He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Ontario, Canada and received his homeopathic training at Western Homeopathic College at Cleveland, Ohio (now the Cleveland Homeopathic College), where he graduated in 1861.
After his graduation, he entered the Union Army, serving as a surgeon under General Ulysses S. Grant.
After the Civil War Allen accepted the professorship of Anatomy at Cleveland and first started the practice of medicine. He later resigned this post to accept the same chair at the Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago.
In 1868 he was offered the Chair of Surgery to succeed Dr. Beebe, but was unable to accept. He then located in Brantford, Ontario, where on December 24th, 1867, he married Selina Louise Goold… and had two children, Franklin Lyman Allen and Helen Marian Allen Aird… In 1875 he moved to Detroit and was appointed Professor of Materia Medica at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1880.
This is some of what the International Hahnemannian Association (IHA) ‘In Memoriam’ had to say about Henry C. Allen:
...he was one who truly gave, not only of his love and sympathy, but of his time and effort, and money, to all who needed his aid. No one will ever know how many poor and suffering he helped, nor how many needy, struggling young students and physicians he aided with advice, and money and encouragement. To the young, and especially women in the profession, he was a tower of strength.
The 1890’s saw the majority of Homeopathic colleges steeped in modern scientific homeopathy, emphasizing laboratory methods, surgery, and transient therapeutic and pathological fads.
Hahnemann’s teachings were often deemed dogmatic, antiquated, and visionary. Most graduates knew much of transient therapeutic and pathological fads, but little homeopathy. Dr. Allen actively worked for reinstatement of the Organon in college curricula and was largely responsible for its wide-scale use during the turn of the century. Like Hahnemann and Hering before him, Allen passionately defended the inductive method described in the Organon.
His disagreement with James Tyler Kent over the publication of unproven remedies in the Denver Critique illustrates this unwavering commitment to Hahnemann’s principles. James Tyler Kent had promised to publish one remedy a month, but since this proved to be impossible, he described remedies for which there were no provings or clinical experience. Instead he would combine the qualities of Alumina and Silica and speculate on the symptoms that would exist in Alumina silicata.
At the Homeopathic Congress of June 1908, Allen accused James Tyler Kent of publishing unreliable Materia Medica. James Tyler Kent retracted his position and never published a “synthetic” remedy again and actually removed them from the 2nd edition of his Lectures on Homeopathic Materia Medica. Allen was probably the only homeopath of his time who could stand up to James Tyler Kent.
Allen wrote Keynotes of the Materia Medica with Nosodes, Keynotes and characteristics with comparisons of some of the leading… , Allen’s Keynotes Rearranged and Classified, Keynotes of Leading Remedies, The Materia Medica of the Nosodes, The Therapeutics of intermittent fever, The Homeopathic Therapeutics of Intermittent Fever, The Therapeutics of Fevers; Continued, Bilious, Intermittent, Malarial… , The Homeopathic Therapeutics of Fever, Therapeutics of Tuberculous Affections, The materia medica of the nosodes with provings of the X-ray, and he also revised Boenninghausen’s Slip Repertory, which he updated and arranged for rapid and practical homeopathic work.
Allen also wrote The Vital Force, Notes on frequently indicated remedies, Notes on Sepia, Materia Medica Notes, Pyrogen - A clinical case, Tabacum: Some guiding symptoms, The dynamic element of the remedy, Nosode.
Dr. Allen sustained his youthfulness and vitality in his later years. Even into his seventies he was as active and as physically vigorous as men half his age. Known for his quick wit he was welcomed at gatherings for his lively repartee and engaging anecdotes.
Dr. Allen passed away on January 22, 1909 after working all day and seeing patients in the evening. Until his last days he was constantly working for the benefit of homeopathy.
Henry Clay Allen served with Company A, 38th Virginia Regiment (Infantry), Pickett’s Division. The following statement was dictated by Henry Clay Allen to Ora Graves Allen (his second wife), date unknown:
“My name beginning with the letter A made me the first man on the roll, and being the tallest, I was always placed on the extreme right. This position was sometimes designated as high private in the front rank.
“My captain was Daniel Townes of Pittsylvania Co. I took the train at Ringgold for Richmond to be drilled and trained in military tactics. Along in April (1862), I joined the original company in which I enlisted at Orange Court House.
“Being afraid that the war would be over before I arrived at the required age, I volunteered eight months before. Really got satisfactory experience before I was 19 and would like to have returned home and tried to get out but failed.
“I was in the following battles: Seven Pines (also known as Fair Oaks), Malvern Hill and Gettysburg. I was wounded in the leg on May 16, 1864, between Petersburg and Richmond, in the stampede of Five Forks, near Petersburg. Was in many skirmishes and did much hard marching and much shooting. I’m not absolutely sure I killed a Yankee, but killed as many of them as they did of me.”