Your Life is Their Toy - Emanuel Josephson

Merchants in Medicine


An advertising quack was the "leader" of the American medical profession and the boss of American Medical Association during the last four decades. But this would not surprise informed persons; for commercialism of "leaders" of medicine is one of the oldest traditions in this country.

Thus we find in the laws of Virginia of 1639, reenacted in 1646, the following disquisition on medical commercialism:

"Whereas by the 9th act of the Assembly held the 21st of October, 1639, consideration being had and taken of the immoderate and excessive rates and prices exacted by practitioners in physic and chyrurgery and the complaints made to the then Assembly of the bad consequences thereof. It so happening through the said intolerable exactions that the hearts of divers masters were hardened rather to suffer their servants to perish for want of fit meanes and applications then by seeking relief to fall into the hands of griping and avaricious men."

The law provided that a physician could be arrested and haled into court if accused of excessive charges. Then also there existed the tendency to blame the consequences of avarice of men on the medical profession.

No doubt there were in the profession then also men who were imbued with the spirit of research and service to mankind. But the very character of such men bars them from success in the sordid game of medical politics. The bosses or "leaders" of organized medicine are generally the least scrupulous members of the profession, men who care least for the value of human life, who play the game without conscience for the highest profits; and rarely are they derived from the rank of true scientists and healers.

The entire early history of medicine in this country was a commercial war upon competitors by these medical bosses, who termed themselves "regular" practitioners. Looking backward we now realize that many of these medical merchants were no less quacks than were some of the groups that they presumed to attack and persecute, and sought to drive out. Much of their "accepted practice" we now know was rank murder. Among these murderous practices were copious bleeding and medication with large doses of tartar emetic. The short expectancy of life in those days was due in no small measure to the medical practices of the "regulars." George Washington, for instance, because he had quinsy, was bled to death by a "regular" doctor.

At least one school of practitioners of the time, the homeopaths, whom the regulars" sought to bar from practice, represented a distinct advance. Their small doses did not poison patients as did the copious doses of the "regulars."


History has a curious way of repeating itself in medical politics. The "regulars" organized themselves into State Medical Societies and played the game of politics with the same signal success as characterizes their successors 1 activities. They secured the passage of laws which gave the right of medical licensure to their Societies, together with many other privileges. These powers they used to create for themselves monopolies of medical business. Competitors were labelled "irregulars" and "quacks" and were denied the right to practice. Consultation of their members with the interdicted groups was barred; and those who refused to accept the discipline were persecuted.

Since the operation of medical schools was the most lucrative phase of medicine (and it still is) the bosses of the Societies established for themselves a monopoly of medical education, and drove competitors out of business on the pretense of "elevation of the standards of medical education" and "the protection of public health." The discipline which was designed to further the commercial interests of these groups was given the specious name of "ethics." No more false use has ever been made of the term "ethics." But even in those days medical politicians were shrewd publicity men.

The power of these State Medical Societies and of their bosses under the early medical license laws waxed greatest about 1825. Openly and brazenly the powers granted by the laws were used to established monopolies of medical practice for the boss medical merchants and to mulct the public. The bitter commercial rivalry between individual medical bosses, and their shameless wars for monopoly of the medical school business, became public scandals. As a consequence, these laws had been repealed in almost every state, and the State Medical Societies were shorn of their powers, before the end of 1849.


The medical merchants resolved to retain their monopoly of medical practice and to bar competition by flaunting and circumventing the law through a monopoly of medical education. It was for this purpose that the American Medical Association was organized on May 11, 1846, at a convention of the discredited State Medical Societies held in New York City. Dr. Nathan Smith Davis of New York City was the moving spirit of the Association; and in later years lie became the first editor of its Journal.

The objective for which the American Medical Association was founded, a monopoly of medical practice and of medical education, was not attained under the regime of Dr. Davis. He lacked the cunning, the ruthlessness and the unscrupulous ness requisite for the task. During his regime the organization remained a loose assembly of State Societies, all jealous of one another. The membership represented medical schools that were competing bitterly for business and destroying the very monopoly of medical practice which they sought. Amidst the dissension, new medical schools were cropping up daily, and the competition became more highly intensified than ever. Even powerful medical bosses could hardly get together enough students to make a decent living.


Upon this scene there emerged in 1899 "Doc" George H. Simmons, a monumental figure in the field of medical quackery and racketeering. He openly ruled the American Medical Association during the next twenty-five years and attained the objectives for which it had been founded.

Immigrating from England in 1870, he promptly entered the newspaper field, becoming editor of the Nebraska Farmer, associate editor of the Nebraska State Journal, and field correspondent for the Kansas City Journal. He was an unscrupulous but astute politician.

Impelled by the "get-rich-quick" spirit, Simmons left the field of journalism in 1884 and launched on a career of medical quackery in Lincoln, Nebraska. There is no evidence that "Doc" Simmons had ever had any medical education, or any formal education. But this did not deter him from making conflicting claims to education in existing and non-existent institutions in quack advertisements of his professional talents in the Lincoln newspapers. some of his advertisements he called himself a homeopath. In others he announced himself to be a "licentiate of the Rotunda Hospital of Dublin;" though, unfortunately for his claims, the hospital never issued any licenses. Later in life, Simmons claimed attendance at Tabor College, Iowa, and at the University of Nebraska, which claim is equally questionable.

In short, without any authenticated medical education "Doc" Simmons launched into business as an advertising quack. Even for those rough and tumble days of medical racketeering his newspaper advertisements were most lurid. He declared himself as a universal specialist in diseases of men, women and children. Boldly he announced "A limited number of lady patients can be accommodated at my residence"—which in those days was the form of announcement of abortionists. In addition to his personal advertising, "Dr." Simmons' name was also carried by the newspaper advertisements of a beauty and massage parlor, and of a fraudulent sanitarium, the Lincoln Institute.

By the royal road of quackery and worse, "Doc" Simmons rapidly rose to wealth and influence. His political activities soon gained for him the position of secretary of the Nebraska State Medical Society and of the Western Surgical and Gynecological Society. He put to use his experience in journalism, and founded and became the editor of the Western Medical Review.

After rising to a measure of eminence as a medical merchant and quack. "Doc" Simmons decided, with an eye to scaling further heights, that the time was ripe for him to secure a medical degree. He got his only authentic degree from one of the many diploma mills which sold them through the mails, While he was practicing in Lincoln, Nebraska, the ubiquitous "doctor" was registered as a medicat student many hundred miles away at the Rush Medical College in Chicago. The prescriptions and birth certificates which he wrote almost daily in Lincoln, Nebraska indicate that he there engaged in a very active practice while supposed to be attending courses at Rush Medical College. Evidently, he had no difficulty in being in two places at the same time.

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The lines, "A limited number of lady patients can be accommodated at my residence," was the form regularly used by abortionists m then advertising m those days. The London and Vienna hospital experience and the Irish license are fictitious. This advertisement appeared at a later date than that of the Lincoln Institute, but years before "Doc" Simmons had obtained bis diploma mill degree.

[Simmons Disease of Women] from Your Life is Their Toy by Emanuel Josephson

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In his position as officer of the Nebraska State Medical Society, Simmons shrewdly played the game of politics in the badly disorganized parent organization, the American Medical Association.


In 1899 he seized control of the moribund American Medical Association. He had himself appointed organizer and undertook to build up the membership. He was also appointed secretary of the Association and editor of its Journal. In 1901, at the St. Paul Convention, the Association was officially "reorganized" and Simmons grabbed for himself, in addition to his other jobs, the position of general manager of the Association. Thus "Doc" Simmons, notorious advertising quack and abortionist, self-avowed "homeopath," and diploma-mill licentiate, became the boss and dictator of the official organization of "regular" medicine, the American Medical Association.

"Doc" Simmons surrounded himself with a crew as unscrupulous as himself. One of his most trusted lieutenants was a Secretary of the Kentucky State Board of Health, who at one time had been arrested for a shortage of over sixty-two thousand dollars in his accounts. He did not even bother to deny the criminal charges, but came to court armed with a Governor's pardon.

The bosses of the A.M.A. had been well schooled in the game of politics. With their aid, Simmons promptly went about the task of making the American Medical Association pay him and his gang higher returns than had the quack and abortion businesses or the Lincoln Institute. As spokesman of the official organization of the medical profession, Simmons gained complete control of immensely rich and almost virgin fields for exploitation. No more perfect combination can be conceived than the "genius" of an unscrupulous quack and the complete control of organized medicine to insure a highly profitable enterprise.

The tactics by which the medical rackets were built up are related in the following chapters. They include sham representative government, stuffed ballot boxes and all varieties of fraud and illegality, organization steam-roller, intimidation, libel, slander, strong-arm tactics, suppression of freedom of speech and publication, destruction of competing organizations and publications, monopolistic control of medical advertising that, combined with extortion and blackmail, won them a strangle hold on the drug and related industries. They also included alliance with the more unscrupulous and dangerous political and social forces that could not be mastered, censorship of the press, and every type of villainy that could conceivably further their sought objective.


In this manner medical racketeers once again attained the objective gained and lost in the first quarter of the nineteenth century—an absolute control of the medical businesses.

It is ironic to consider that it was an unregenerate quack who dictated the "code of ethics" which the member physicians of the A.M.A. accept. Its origin gives some insight into its commercial character.

Under the regime of Simmons and his henchmen, the American Medical Association utilized the control of the press, which it had gained, to dispel the malodor of its origin. Simmons resigned as editor in 1924, and became editor emeritus and general manager, where he remained, until his death in 1937 the man behind the throne. He appointed in his place Dr. Morris Fishbein to perpetuate the regime.

Fishbein proved himself a worthy successor. With Simmons lurking behind him he carried the Association to new heights of quackery and of power and dominion over the medical profession, medical education, the press, and the drug and allied interests.


It is an interesting commentary on the "principles" which guide medical politicians that so long as "Doc" Simmons lived, his henchmen stood ready to defend him to the last ditch. Thus, during the Investigation of the Administration of the Federal Food and Drug Act by the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, during the seventy-first Congress in 1930, Olin West rose bravely to defend his chief, Simmons. ("Hearings," p. 292-295):

"Senator Wheeler. I have just been handed, by a gentleman over here, an article appearing in one of the State journals:

"'How to enlarge your practice. George H. Simmons, M.D., editor emeritus of Journal of A.M.A. Reprinted from Lincoln (Nebr.) State Journal. Ridge's food. None genuine without Woolrich & Co. on label. G H. Simmons, M.D.'

"Doctor West. What is the date of that, Senator, may I ask?

"Senator Wheeler. I could not say.

"Doctor West. What has that to do with this particular matter?

"Senator Wheeler. I was just wondering if that was an advertisement that the council would approve of.

"Senator Copeland. Is that the Doctor Simmons who was formerly editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association?

"Doctor West. I do not know who he is. I have not seen it.

"Senator Wheeler. He says he was formerly editor of the A.M.A. Journal, and now is editor emeritus of the Journal.

"Senator Copeland. This, I take it, was one of the indiscretions of his youth.

"Senator Wheeler. I do not so understand,

"Doctor West. Mr. Chairman, this is exactly in line with the manoeuvers that have been carried on with regard to other matters. This is an advertisement which I think—I cannot tell you definitely—appeared probably 35 to 40 years ago, and perhaps considerably beyond that time, even long before Dr. G. H. Simmons had any connection whatever with the American Medical Association. . , .

"Senator Wheeler. He is the same man?

"Doctor West. I think he is.

"Senator Wheeler. The same man who was the editor of the Journal of the A.M.A.?

"Doctor West. In later years. . . "

"Senator Wheeler. He is the same man who is now editor emeritus of the Journal of the A.M.A.?

"Doctor West. Yes, sir.

"Senator Wheeler. . . . It was put in here for the purpose of calling your attention to the fact that the man who was the head of the American Medical Association Journal, and who objects to all advertisements, was himself an advertising doctor . . . the point I am making here is that here is a man who was what you would call an advertising faker in connection with women's diseases, who afterwards became so rigid about advertisements going into the Journal.

"Doctor West. No, Senator; I do not say that.

"Senator Wheeler. The medical profession generally calls these doctors who advertise that they are specialists on men's diseases and women's diseases advertising fakers, does it not? . . . I am going to ask that that be inserted in the record.

"Senator Copeland. Both sides?

"Senator Wheeler. I have not seen the other side. Here is the other side of it, which had not been called to my attention. 'Lincoln Medical Institute and water cure. Turkish Russian, vapor, electric, and medicated baths.'

"Senator Copeland, Senator, really this has no bearing on the case, has it?

"Senator Wheeler. Except for the fact that the very man, I assume, who is now denouncing all these fake medical institutes and gonorrhea cures, and so forth, was formerly in that very business himself, apparently. I am glad to know that he has reformed, however, according to the doctor. . . .

"Senator Wheeler. You do not permit advertisements of the character of that of Doctor Simmons to appear in the Medical Journal, do you?

"Doctor West. No. We do not permit any such advertisement; and if any doctor were to advertise in that manner today, we would oppose it, and expose it, and condemn it.

"Senator Wheeler. You would not permit him, as a matter of fact, to belong to the Medical Association, would you?

"Doctor West. No, sir.

"Senator Wheeler. That is correct; is it?

"Doctor West. Yes, sir. A man who would advertise in that manner today, would have charges preferred against him.

"Senator Wheeler. And he would be thrown out of the Medical Association."

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This advertisement appeared in tbe Lincoln, Nebraska, newspapers years before he obtained his mail order diploma from Rush Medical College. In this license "Doc" Simmons represents himself as a homeopath. He grew more ambitious in his later advertisements and claimed to be a "licentiate of Gynecology and Obstetrics from the Rotunda Hospitals, Dublin, Ireland". Note the humbug "Compound Oxygen" Cure.

[Simmons Disease of Women] from Your Life is Their Toy by Emanuel Josephson

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While Simmons was alive, Dr. Morris Fishbein understudied him. During this time, Fishbein was in the habit of telling friends "Simmons has treated me like a father."

Within a few months after Simmons had died, in January, 1938, I had occasion to question Fishbein from the floor at a meeting of the New York County Medical Society.

"Is it not true," I asked Fishbein, "that the leadership of the medical profession has been corrupt, dishonest and incompetent?"

Replying in the affirmative, Fishbein showed an admirable mixture of heartfelt gratitude and respect for the dead. "Doc" Simmons, he said, was hardly the type of man to lead the medical profession. But, he said, the character of Simmons rivals for control of the A.M.A., Dr. G. Frank Lydston and other aspirants, were in his estimate, of lower calibre than Simmons. Sic transit gloria mundi.


An eloquent commentary on the perverted power of the A.M.A. is the obituary on Simmons in the September 2, 1937 issue of the New York Times. Under the headline "Noted For War On Quacks," it published a highly laudatory obituary on Simmons, the prince of quacks.

Editing or suppression of well-known information by the Times is not surprising; for its recognized policy is to publish only the news that can be made "fit to print." The surprising feature that demonstrated the ascendency of the A.M.A. was the abandonment of an attitude of bitter antagonism which, since it has become subservient to Organized Social Service, the Times has assumed toward the Association's personnel, when such an excellent opportunity for wholesome exposure presented itself.


The maintenance of power in the nation-wide medical organization depends upon alliances with subsidiaries and satellites. In every community, local merchants-in-medicine whose specialty is politics serve as allies and agents. Their reward is power, undeserved reputations which they gain from their control of medical licensure and education, large practices secured through a monopoly of medical institutions and the advertising which they yield, and incomes that are dependent on the privilege of preying on the public which the monopoly of the institutions gives them. They are limited solely by their greed and the capacity of the public to suffer and pay. The agencies through which they operate are the subsidiary county and state medical societies. From among their bosses there are chosen each year the figure-head presidents, officers, and dummy directors, of the A.M.A. In return for a free rein in their local territories, they do not "horn in" on the enterprises and boodle of the national organization bosses for whom they act as stuffed-shirt fronts.

Simmons made the position of his group impregnable. They own the A.M.A. and dictate its activities. The subsidiary state societies, such as those of Illinois and New Jersey, have attempted to revolt repeatedly, but have been whipped back into line.


To what extent the local medical powers are intimidated and fearful of the overlords of the medical rackets is made apparent by the following letter to me from a prominent physician:

"I have been in practice here since 1896, and I now feel very much the hypocrite because I have ridden on the bandwagon of organized medicine ever since the present American Medical Association was set up. I have been twice the President of the local organization and for several years one of the counselors of the—State Medical Association.

"I EXPECT TO KEEP ON RIDING THERE EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THE RACKETEERING CONDITIONS EXISTING IN THE ORGANIZATION. I knew Dr. George H. Simmons, now deceased, President Emeritus and dictator extraordinaire of the American Medical Association when he was a homeopathic quack out in Lincoln, Nebraska, and using bill boards for advertising; shades of Munyan and Brinkley, either one of them was far more ethical than was George H. Simmons. Furthermore, I know just how he got his diploma as a regular physician, but i am not going to STICK OUT MY NECK ENOUGH TO TELL IT TO SOMEONE IN WRITING.

"I also know all about the specialists with certificate rackets now being practised. I also knew Franklin Martin's F.A.C.S. racket at its inception at the American Congress of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology. I also know all about the Frank Smithes' F.A.C.P. racket. I also know all about the Willys Andrews families and many N. S. Davis families and their relationship to the past and present organization of medicine.

". . I am just writing you these things to let you know why I cannot assist you in writing up the history of medicine in this section of the country. I want you to know that I do not hate any of these men past or present, including Morris Fishbein, the present Hitler of medicine, and Olin West, the Goering of medicine. In fact I have to admit to you my association with them has been happy and pleasant, but having grown up in the old spirit of ethical medicine it rankles me to know what is going on and that I can do nothing about it.

"I wonder if you saw the play "The Servant in the House" many years ago. If so you will recall the character of the drain man who found all of the filth of the Church of England in the drains and sewer beneath the church and the rectory. That is what I know about our organization from its inception to the present day. NOW YOU CAN WONDER THAT I FEEL THAT I AM A HYPOCRITE FOR RIDING ON THE BAND WAGON OF SUCH AN ORGANIZATION WHEN I KNOW WHAT IS BENEATH?"


How completely Olin West and Fishbein and their ring own and control the A.M.A. and how little voice the rank and file members and their elected officers have, is aptly illustrated by the following affidavit filed by Dr. Nathan B. Van Etten, President of the A.M.A.

(Certified Copy of Affidavit Now Filed)
In the District Court of the United States
for the Southern District of New York

J. Thompson Stevens, M.D., Plaintiff,
Morris Fishbein, M.D., and
the American Medical Association, Defendants.

Affidavit of
Nathan B. Van Etten
State of New York,
County of Bronx,

Nathan B. Van Etten, being duly sworn, deposes and says:

"I am a practising physician duly licensed in the State of New York and have been a practising physician since March IO, 1890. I reside at 120 West 183rd Street, New York City and maintain an office for the practice of my profession at 300 East Tremont Avenue, New York City. I have been a member of the American Medical Association for some 40 years and at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association held in June, 1939, I was elected President of the American Medical Association and took office as President on June 11, 1940.

"On June 12, 1940, while attending the annual meeting of the American Medical Association at the Hotel Waldorf Astoria, 50th Street and Park Avenue, New York City, copies of a summons and complaint in the above-entitled action were given to me and I am informed that these were given to me as purported service of process on the American Medical Association. This affidavit is submitted by me in support of a motion by the American Medical Association to set aside and vacate the purported service of process herein.

"My sole office in the American Medical Association is as President. I have no executive or administrative duties in connection with that office, the office being an honorary one and my chief function as President of the Association being to deliver talks in various parts of the country to various medical bodies and to acquaint physicians and the public generally with the functions and purposes of the American Medical Association and with subjects of special interest to the medical profession and the public generally. The chief executive officer of the American Medical Association is the Secretary and General Manager who is, at the present time, Olin West. His office is at 535 North Dearborn Street, Chicago, Illinois.

I transact no business of any kind for the American Medical Association in the State of New York. My office at 300 East Tremont Avenue is not an office of the American Medical Association but merely an office which has been maintained by me for some years for the sole purpose of the practice of my profession. I have never been given any authority to act for the American Medical Association in New York, to transact business for it in the State of New York, nor to enter into any negotiations, contracts or agreements on its behalf nor am I authorized to accept the payment of any moneys on behalf of the American Medical Association or conduct business of any nature for it in the State of New York, nor do I perform any such functions.


Sworn to before me this 29th day of June, 1940
(Notarial Seal)
Bessie R. MacEnery, Notary Public

Notary Public Bronx County
Clerk's No. 197, Registers No. 235-M-41.
Commission Expires March 30, 1941.


Increasingly it has become the practise of the local medical bosses to fill their purses from the treasuries of their organizations. An unsuccessful attempt of this type was made in the New York County Medical Society in January 1940. The Old Guard representing organized medicine, including Drs. Charles Gordon Heyd, Alfred M. Heilman, Clarence Bandler and Samuel J. Kopetzky, have been fighting a losing battle on the cohorts of the Social Service Racket and their radical and Communist allies, led by Drs. Ernest Boas, Henry B. Richardson, Carl Binger and Giles W. Thomas, for the control of the Society and its funds.

Since the Society is ruled by its secretary, the Old Guard undertook to assure its control by giving its henchman, Dr. B. Wallace Hamilton, secretary, a five year contract at double his past salary, or twelve thousand dollars a year. Their opponents, w r ho seek full control of the Society and its treasury for their masters and themselves, fought this maneuver with the aid of cooperating newspapers, and forced a cancellation of the contract.

The members of the Society are prepared to see the "crusading" social service and radical cohorts drain its treasury for salaries for their henchmen and utilize it for agitation for Socialized Medicine and for an intensified campaign of vilification and betrayal of the profession. They have already urged upon Mayor LaGuardia that physicians be denied the protection of Civil Service, security of tenure and an adequate wage, that are accorded to all other workers in public employ. This they have done through the "Coordinating Committee" of the five County Medical Societies of New York City. Thus does Organized Medicine "protect" its members in much the same fashion as the racketeer "protects" industry or Germany "protects" Norway.


Though the Department of Justice has filed an indictment against the American Medical Association and its racketeering bosses, almost every other branch of the Federal and State governments that acts in the domain of medicine is completely dominated by the Association. Most recent and striking of these illegal delegations of governmental power to a private agency, is the granting to the American Medical Association of virtual control of the medical aspects of military conscription.

The past record of the A.M.A. makes it quite clear that the power delegated to it by the government will not be used for the promotion of national defense, but will be used to mend the political fences of the Association and to destroy its enemies, especially all physicians and manufacturers who do not bow to its dictates. In 1917, for instance, the A.M.A. barred from military service the distinguished physician and surgeon, Professor G. Frank Lydston of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, by means of records that were later acknowledged to be false, because of his attacks on corruption in the A.M.A.

This is further made clear by the decree ordered by the American Medical Association that no physician who has graduated from any school that is not approved by it, no matter how competent and experienced he may be, may receive a commission or serve as a physician; and that any such physicians who may be drafted must serve as ordinary privates, in spite of the announced shortage of physicians in the service. The same ruling has been decreed extended by the A.M.A. to graduates of foreign medical schools of the highest rating.

More will be related presently concerning the Government support of the racketeering of the bosses of the A.M.A. and their fellow merchants-in-medicine.