Crusaders for Fitness

Crusaders for Fitness: The History of American Health Reformers

JAMES C. WHORTON
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 382
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztrvt
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  • Book Info
    Crusaders for Fitness
    Book Description:

    To reveal the importance of a subject that has long suffered from scholarly neglect, Professor Whorton demonstrates that health reform campaigns were not mere fads but ideologies composed of a mixture of religious and scientific ideas and themes from the popular culture.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5746-3
    Subjects: Public Health

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION THE KINGDOM OF HEALTH
    (pp. 3-12)

    One of the classic characters bred by American culture of the past century and a half is the health fanatic, the man who (in Twain’s phraseology) eats what he doesn’t want, drinks what he doesn’t like, and does what he’d druther not, all the while smugly announcing himself to be energetic, joyful, and certain of long life, and exhorting his errant neighbor to reform.¹ The comic stature he has achieved is well deserved, but he has also a serious side that has been badly neglected. Until recently at least, historians have recognized health faddism primarily for its rich store of...

  6. CHAPTER ONE A FIG FOR THE DOCTORS
    (pp. 13-37)

    One of the clearest signals of the arrival of the Jacksonian era for medicine was the launching, in the year of the president’s inauguration, of theJournal of Health. Edited by an association of Philadelphia physicians who preferred to remain anonymous, the periodical was addressed to the public and sought to instruct it on “the means of preserving health and preventing disease.” The editors modestly described their style as “familiar and friendly,” but they should also be recognized as selflessly democratic, offering as they did advice which could allow common folk to achieve independence from the medical elite. An anecdote...

  7. CHAPTER TWO CHRISTIAN PHYSIOLOGY
    (pp. 38-61)

    Early in their second volume, the editors op theJournal of Healthpaused to proffer brief thanks to a Reverend Graham for his staunch efforts in the battle against alcohol. They had to apologize for insufficient space to do justice to “his zeal and abilities,” but consoled readers with the reflection there should be future opportunities to return to the subject.¹ Had they had any inkling how numerous those opportunities would be, the congratulations might well have been less hearty, for Reverend Graham’s zeal and abilities were already mounting an offensive against all the enemies of health (not just rum),...

  8. CHAPTER THREE TEMPEST IN A FLESH-POT
    (pp. 62-91)

    As if the presidential campaign of 1860 were not momentous enough, the eminent health reformer Russell Trall announced to a Philadelphia audience that neither Lincoln, nor Douglas, nor the other contenders had yet “broached any subject so vitally important to the voters, as that of beefversusbread, hogv. hominy, muttonv. squash, … [or] chickenv. whortleberries.”¹ From any other assembly, the charge would have drawn only hoots, but Trall was speaking before the American Vegetarian Society. Its members followed the nearly two hour address “with profound attention to the close,”² for they knew that true emancipation meant...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR PHYSICAL EDUCATION
    (pp. 92-131)

    It might easily have been a health reform aphorism that he who is frugivorous will never be lascivious. That meat excited libido was a truism, and only compounded the flesh diet’s murderousness, since sexual appetite was presumed to be as dangerous to the body as the soul. Indeed, so violent seemed the agitation of the nervous system during venereal excitement, even moral, marital sex was suspect. Fortunately, physical intercourse was the divinely appointed means for propagating the race, or health reformers would have outlawed figurative flesh as completely as they did the literal kind. As it happened, only the tiniest...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE HYGIENE IN EVOLUTION
    (pp. 132-167)

    In 1857, alcott accepted the offer of a j. silas brown, M.D., to become “associate physician” at the Hygeopathic and Dietetic Institute in Boston. Dr. Brown’s institute was primarily an infirmary where patients given up by regular doctors as incurable, were immersed in “electrochemical baths” and treated with other “natural” remedies. Alcott’s assignment was to assist with the curing of dyspeptics and consumptives, co-edit the institute’s journal,The Hygeist, lecture on hygiene, and, most importantly, organize “a school or schools for the inculcation of these Divine Laws of Human Health.”¹ The school never left the drawing board, however;The Hygeist...

  11. CHAPTER SIX PHYSIOLOGIC OPTIMISM
    (pp. 168-200)

    No one spoke the language op progressive hygienic ideology with more fluency and charm than Horace Fletcher. That alone would qualify him to serve as the main representative of the style of radical hygiene that had evolved by the beginning of this century. But Fletcher deserves the spotlight as much for his impact on the public, fellow hygienists, and health scientists as for his typification of a new mode of thought. And certainly not least among his credentials for special consideration is the fact that his was no ordinary health reformer’s life, soured by chronic illness and impoverished by asceticism....

  12. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  13. CHAPTER SEVEN MUSCULAR VEGETARIANISM
    (pp. 201-238)

    Another who taught the world to chew was the only health reformer to outshine Fletcher during the Progressive years. John Harvey Kellogg, in fact, even cast a shadow over Graham, for the assorted precooked breakfast cereals, peanut butter, nut-based meat substitutes, and other delicacies concocted by this culinary inventor comprised a health food smorgasbord beside which the Graham cracker shrank to pauper’s fare.

    Kellogg’s head table was set at his Battle Creek Michigan Sanitarium, originally a Seventh Day Adventist institution designed to perpetuate Grahamite philosophy. Such, at least, was the sanitariums design in effect. In theory, though, Adventist health doctrine...

  14. CHAPTER EIGHT URIC ACID AND OTHER FETISHES
    (pp. 239-269)

    Few chemical compounds have so unenviable a history as uric acid. White, odorless, and tasteless, it is saved from being utterly nondescript only by its vulgar origins and pathological involvements. As a metabolic end-product, it is normally encountered in animal evacuations, in the urine of primates, and the excrement of creatures such as birds, serpents, and slugs. It was discovered, in 1776, in urinary calculi, the kidney and bladder stones that have been the cause of so much human misery. And before the close of the eighteenth century, uric acid had also been identified in tophi, the deposits that torment...

  15. CHAPTER NINE PHILOSOPHY IN THE GYMNASIUM
    (pp. 270-303)

    “Every village that has two churches now,” proposed a resident of Moses Coit Tyler’s mythical village of Brawnville, should “just put both congregations together, to worship in one building and to practice gymnastics in the other.” Then

    there would be more godliness in this land, and more manliness, too; the fashionable theology would be shamed out of its disgraceful Paganisms; and the diseased rubbish which was shot upon Christianity by forlorn old monks who had the stomach ache would be carted off by the scavenger; and men and women would be more prayerful, and more charitable, and more virtuous, because...

  16. CHAPTER TEN THE HYGIENE OF THE WHEEL
    (pp. 304-330)

    Macfadden was not one to best content with only the pleasures of the gymnasium. He played many outdoor sports as well, and enthusiastically recommended games to others interested in keeping their blood pure. But even without Macfadden’s backing, sport was a more popular hygienic option than gymnastics by the end of the nineteenth century. Lewis seems to have honestly believed that his gymnastics were “not less fascinating than the most popular games,” but for many participants the fascination soon turned to tedium. The rigidly prescribed drills lacked the spontaneity and unpredictability of free play, were more duty than fun, and...

  17. CHAPTER ELEVEN A MODERN CONSPECTUS
    (pp. 331-350)

    Sylvester graham was right, of course. His fear that commercially baked, and adulterated, white bread portended a sweeping displacement of natural foods by artificial products has been realized to a disturbing degree in the twentieth century. Indeed, white bread—no longer cheapened with chalk, but denatured instead with benzoyl peroxide, tricalcium phosphate, and other additives—has become symbolic of a high technology food industry pressing ever more synthetic preparations upon a gastronomically illiterate public conditioned by advertising to welcome the artificial as necessarily an improvement over the natural. Things have come to such a pass that the manufacturers of Quaker...

  18. Index
    (pp. 351-360)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 361-361)