Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.


  • Lecture of A. T. Still, at Infirmary, January 20, 1895
  • Why He Invited the Colored People to the Infirmary
  • Memorial Hall
  • Quinine and Fibroid Tumors
  • Dover Powders
  • Calomel and Castor Oil
  • Not a Christian Scientist
  • Not a Mesmerist
  • Oxygen and Health
  • To Patients
  • The Object of Osteopathy
  • Seventy-five Per Cent of All Cases Benefited
  • Fifty Per Cent Cured
    I HAVE invited you here because among you there are men who helped to build this house.  I wish more had come to stand under the shelter of the roof they helped make.  Doubtless those who are absent had in mind only the dollars to be received for their labor and gave no thought to the mission of the building erected.  This is the great Still house -- to instill sobriety instead of drunkeness, to instill principles instead of guesswork..

    Last Thursday dedicatory exercises were held in this house.  It was filled to overflowing, and a larger regiment of people returned to their homes unable to gain admittance than I ever met on field of battle.

    The room you now occupy is Memorial Hall -- as named in honor of my son Fred, whose portrait you see on the wall.  He was a bright, intelligent boy, a boy known to you all, one who would not wear a ring upon his finger, considering the skin which God had placed there a rarer jewel than money could purchase.

    He had hoped to carry the banner of Osteopatby far into the future, but as the result of an accident his health was impaired and he left us in answer to nature's summons.

    You see these paintings, this flag of our nation -- a flag of silken texture and expensive trimmings --these are donations from friends, and show the kindly feeling of the people toward us.

    Since the days of Aesculapius the delusion has flourished that man must swallow medicine to rid himself of disease.  The people substituted their judgment for God's intelligence, and in so doing created drunkards and lunatics.

    The great Inventor of the universe, by the union of mind and matter, has constructed the most wonderful of all machines-- man -- and Osteopatby demonstrates fully that he is capable of running it without the aid of whisky, opium, or kindred poisons.

    Since the introduction of quinine about sixty years ago, fibroid tumors have increased at an alarming rate, which would lead one to believe that this deadly substance enters into the system and causes the formation of an excrescence fed by the blood-vessels.  When arteries fail to feed it any longer, it begins to exude blood into the abdomen.

    What then?  The medical world says it must be removed by the surgeon's knife.  The result is, a great percentage of such cases die.

    Osteopathy -- a drugless science -- finds the uterogenital nerves made tight by the fastening of certain segments.  It proceeds to reverse the order of things, starts the nerves into action, which renovates or carries off impurities preparatory to reconstruction.

    Take your choice between the two: a system that produces tumors and one that destroys them.

    In the days of slavery, when you colored people had simple plantation remedies such as horse-mint tea, in cases of sickness you recovered.  Death was a rare visitor among your race.  Now you play the fool like your white brothers, take strong medicine and die like rats.

    Quit your pills and learn from Osteopathy the principle that governs you.  Learn that you are a machine, your heart an engine, your lungs a fanning machine and a sieve, your brain with its two lobes an electric battery.

    When the cerebellum sets this dynamo in motion, oxygen is carried through the system and vitalizes the blood, the abdomen, the eye, and the entire man.  Nature put this battery in you to keep the blood healthy and salts it with oxygen.

    You do not use more than an ounce of brain for thought, the remainder is used in vital forces.  Use this ounce of brain to free yourself from the bondage of the old medical laws.

    My father was a physician, and I followed in his footsteps and was considered very successful in the treatment of cholera, smallpox, and like diseases.  When that terrible disease meningitis was slaying its victims by the thousands, all schools of medicine united in their efforts to conquer it, but without avail.  It entered my family, and in spite of all that medical skill could do, death claimed four victims and our home was made desolate.

    Then in my grief the thought came to me that instead of asking God to bless the means being used, it were far better to search for the right means, knowing if they were once found the result would be sure.

    I began to study man, and I found no flaw in God's work.  The Intelligence of Deity is unquestionable; His law unalterable.  On this law is the science of Osteopathy founded, and after struggling for years under the most adverse circumstances, it stands today triumphant.

    If I were at present called on to give medicine, I would be as much afraid of Dover's powders as a darkey is of a skeleton.

    If I should give calomel, I would do it with my eyes shut, and I would want to keep them shut for nine days, so uncertain would I be as to results.

    If because I denounce drugs you call me a Christian Scientist, go home and take half a glass of castor oil and purge yourself of such notions.

    If you consider me a mesmerist, a big dose of pills may carry the thought away.

    I am simply trying to teach you what you are; to get you to realize your right to health, and when you see the cures wrought here, after all other means have failed, you can but know that the foundation of my work is laid on nature's rock.What is the nature of the cases that come to us?  Do you remember Lazarus?  If so, you will remember that his food was crumbs, and well-mumbled crumbs at that.  Well, we are like Lazarus in that respect; we get the leavings of the medical world, their incurable cases.

    We get men whose stomachs have been tanks for the receiving of acid, iron, and mercury -- mercury which transforms their livers into cincabar and makes them rheumatic barometers, sensitive to every weather change.

    This same mercury in certain forms is a great friend to the dentist, for when taken into the system it hunts for chalky substances, seizes upon the teeth and oftentimes causes the girl of seventeen to substitute china store teeth for pearly white incisors, bicuspids, and molars, that nature meant to last a lifetime.

    I have a pup at home, and when he disobeys my laws I apply a switch to him as a reminder of his shortcomings.  So nature applies to you the switch of paid when her mandates are disregarded, and when you feel the smarting of the switch do not pour drugs into your stomachs, but let a skillful engineer adjust your human machine, so that every part works in accordance with nature's requirements.

    Think of yourself as an electric battery.  Electricity seems to have the power to explode or distribute oxygen, from which we receive the vitalizing benefits.  When it plays freely all through your system, you feel well.  Shut it off in one place and congestion may result; in this case a medical doctor, by dosing you with drugs, would increase this congestion until it resulted in decay. He is like the Frenchman who lets his duck rot that it may boil the sooner.  Not so with an Osteopath.  He removes the obstruction, lets the life-giving current have full play, and the man is restored to health.

    The one is man's way and is uncertain, the other is God's method and is infallible.  Choose this day whom you will serve.

    Now let us commence low down and reason up, for a while.  How many observing persons ever saw a sick goose on water, though the water be dirty?  If the goose can get such food as is necessary to sustain life, his doctor, which is water, and the elements which belong to his species, will always keep him well.  A dead goose, swain, pelican, loon, or any aquatic fowl, is seldom if ever found dead on the surface of lakes or water resorts, unless his death comes from violence.

    Our oldest pioneers will tell you that sickness among bogs was unknown in the early settlements of the country.  The hogs were turned loose in nature's field to eat, drink, grow, and be happy.  When sick from overeating or any other cause, they were supposed to have sense enough to go to the creek or some wet place and plunge into it and stay there until their fever disappeared, and they were well again.

    No hunter's knife ever pierced the skin of a sick buck, bear, wolf, or panther, unless he found on removing his hide marks of previous bodily injury, not of his choice.

    We believe the reason of this great absence of disease among animals and fowls of all kinds was a strict adherence to the laws under which they were placed by nature.  When they were tired they would rest, when hungry they would eat, and lived in strict obedience to all the indications of their wants.

    We believe man is no exception to this rule.  One of the greatest reasons we believe can be traced to man's disregard to those great facts, and on this be does not show as much sense as a goose.