• A
  • |
  • A
  • Text size

The Founding of the AMA

Founding of the American Medical Association
"Founding of the American Medical Association" by artist Robert A. Thom, 1961, was part of a series commissioned by Parke-Davis on the "History of Medicine".

Scientific advancement, standards for medical education, launching a program of medical ethics, improved public health — these were the goals of the American Medical Association (AMA). Two hundred fifty delegates from twenty-eight states attended the founding meeting and were seated among exhibit cases and before ancient bones of a mastodon, "Mammut Amercanum," in the hall of The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This painting by artist Robert A. Thom captures the moment on the evening of May 7, 1847, when the delegates to the national medical convention had just approved a resolution to establish the AMA and elect Dr. Nathaniel Chapman as its first president.

Convention Chairman Dr. Jonathan Knight welcomed Dr. Nathaniel Chapman, first AMA president (right foreground). Pictured between Dr. Knight and Dr. Chapman where their hands meet is young Dr. Nathan S. Davis, known as the founder of the AMA because his 1845 resolution to the New York Medical Association calling for a national medical convention led to the forming of the AMA.

At the founding meeting the delegates adopted the first code of medical ethics, and established the first nationwide standards for preliminary medical education and the degree of MD.

Those attending the founding meeting of the AMA launched what has become the largest medical association in America, whose work for over a century and a half has remained focused on the founding principles. The AMA represents the best of American medicine and today continues to serve as an advocate for the profession, physician and patient.