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


  • Address in Memorial Hall, June 22nd, 1895
  • All Patterns Found in Man
  • Attributes of Deity Found in Man
  • No Flaw in the Construction
  • Lesson from a Sawmill
  • Never was Flux
  • Abuse of Osteopathy
  • Some Notes of Warning
  • Efforts to Seduce Incompetent Students to Practice
  • Danger from Incompetents
  • Danger of Going Out Too Soon
    LADIES AND GENTLEMFN: -- Twenty-two years ago today noon I was shot -- not in the heart, but in the dome of reason.   That dome was in a very poor condition to be penetrated by an arrow charged with the principles of philosophy.  Since that eventful day I have sacredly remembered and kept it -- not all the time before as intelligent nor as great an audience as this.  Part of the time I withdrew from the presence of man to meditate upon that event, upon that day, where-in I saw by the force of reason that the word God" signified perfection in all things and in all places.  I began at that day to carefully investigate with the microscope of mind to prove an assertion that is often made in your presence, that the perfection of Deity can be proven by His works.

    I resolved that I would take up the subject, and ascertain by investigation whether that assertion was true or not; whether it could be proven as stated by the gray-headed sages of the pulpit, that the works of God would prove His perfection. (Not all the roads that men travel are smooth.) We never have a positive but that we have a negative.  I am convinced as far as I comprehend, and I cannot assert beyond that, that the works of God do prove His perfection in all places, at all times, and under all circumstances.  I drew a line of debtor and creditor.  On the one side I placed the works of God, on the other the acts of man, who is the handiwork of God, the intelligent association of mind, matter, and spirit, the child of God, who is the Author and Builder of all worlds and all things therein.  All patterns for the mechanic to imitate in all his inventions are found in man.  You remember that all patterns are borrowed from this one being -- be it God, be it devil, or be it man -- who is the originator of all things.  All patterns for all things are imitations of what is found in the constructed being, man.  We see in man, as we comprehend it, the attributes of Deity.  We see the result of the action of mind, therefore a representation of the Mind of all minds.  We find in the solar system motion, without which no universe can exist.  The very thought of mind itself presupposes action.  The motions of all the planets of the universe indicate and approve action and force.  Those planets pass and repass, to the hour and minute; pass before you and other globes, indicating to a man of reason the ability of the Mind to mathematically calculate the length of every piece used in the whole universe, and to arm and equip it with a velocity that is exactly true, and that will run to the thousandth part of a second.  Should one-quarter of a second's time be lost in the velocity of Jupiter, what might be the result?  Increase the electric force of the whole system and fever will be the result in the whole planetary and solar system.  If Jupiter in his rounds should lose one-quarter of a second's time on his circuit, what effect would it have on the whole planetary system?  You would see such planets as Mercury, Venus, and the earth dancing a jig of confusion.  Then if we had a medical doctor turned loose there, be would give a whopping big dose of morphine.  Just on that ground exactly is where he is incompetent to comprehend the revolutions and the time exacted by the divine Moon-maker.  We find the same thing exactly in the solar system of man.  Suppose the heart fails to make its time.  A confusion is started by a retention of the blood at the base of the brain -- perhaps the base of the heart, or the base of the bowels, or the base of the foot, or the side or top of any division of the body -- and you may expect until Jupiter takes his regular time, gets in line with that star, you will have to go to the Hot Springs to get warmed up.

    A great many of you have come here tonight, and what for?  A very few have come here to see what nonsense is going on.  Between your eyes there are too many miles of reason to call any mathematical fact a humbug.  Some heads are not governed with the milestones of reason.  You must not be too hard upon those whose eyes take in so little of a mile; but allow them the
privilege of calling you a philosopher or a fool, because to them one is just as well understood as the other.

    My grandmother was a Dutchwoman.  She told me she believed in signs, by which she regulated the setting of hens, killing chickens, and butchering hogs.  When you see one of those little heads that know it all, with a little book under his arm, an almanac or something of the sort, claiming in a week or ten days to be a great Osteopath, remember what I tell you: That child was weaned when the sign was in the feet; thus he wants to trot.  The next place the sign was in the abdomen, and his aspirations are to eat, and he is ready to go into the world and make a boast that he is an Osteopath, and that he comprehends all of the science, and more too.  He is ready to go before the world, and with false statements lie just enough to get more money than he can get by straightforward, honest dealing before his fellow-men.  We have such births here, having worked at dentistry, selling drugs, or other vocations, and developed in a few days ready to go out into the world and raise his flag of "Osteopathy."

    Twenty-two years ago I took up the matter solemnly and seriously.  Since that time I have not lost a wakeful hour without my mind being engaged with the construction of man, to see if I could detect one single flaw or defect in it -- either under the microscope, or with the anatomist's knife, or the rules of philosophy of my own or the minds of others.  I have never yet been able to detect the least shadow of confusion.  The Jupiter of life is absolutely and mathematically correct.  My investigation has been for the honest purpose of ascertaining whether, when the great God of the universe constructed man, there was one single defect in His work that has been detected by all the combined intelligence of the sons and daughters of man from the birth of man to the present time.  I had to give the wholesale credit mark, and make the vote unanimous for God, and if you cannot make it unanimous, do as some of the Republicans did in St. Louis: a few of you go out.  If you can't swallow it, go out and stay out.

    Why did I become interested in this great question of the intelligence of God?  His ability to give us the seasons, cold and hot, wet and dry, the different kinds of fowls and animals, the fish of the seas and running waters?  The reason why I investigated this was: I believed that man was woefully and wonderfully benighted, from the fact that when he was sick he guessed what was the matter, and guessed he would go for a doctor.  Then guessing commenced in earnest.  The doctor guessed what was the matter; he guessed what he would give him; he guessed when to return; guessed that he would get well, or guessed he would die.  He entered the grand chamber of guessing then and there and when the last breatb was drawn the guess-work was not through with until the preacher guessed where he would go.  I said to myself that God knew more than I did, and more than Mr. Mikael, or Dick Roberts, or all the men I could think of; more than General Jackson or Jeff Davis, Abe Lincoln, or even Horace Greeley.  I concluded that if He did know all things, He has certainly placed that machinery on the track of life, armed and equipped, with boilers full, plenty of oil, and all the bearings of the running-gear of the whole engine in good condition.  I began to look at man. What did I find?  I found myself in the presence of an engine -- the greatest engine that mind could conceive of.  Having spent seven or eight years with a stationary engine, acquainting myself with all its parts from boiler to saw, I began to investigate man as an engine.  In running my saw I found that, if I squeezed it, the blade would wobble.  I found that hum was gone, having passed to a warbling sound.  It was hardly a warble, because when a saw gets hot and begins to wobble the pressure is very light, and it wobbles just before it warbles.  I discovered that the harmonious hum of the saw was produced when it was running exactly as it should, keeping line.  I found the same wobbling in man, and it was that which drew my attention; so that I inquired what was the matter with the saw of life.  It was out of line, and the friction against the timber produced the heat and what they call buckling.  It wobbled to one side like a blubber under a pancake.  That wobble will spoil your saw and stop its work.  How many blubbers did I find in the human engine?  I found the blubber of erysipelas, of flux, of diphtheria.  It is the bursting of the bubble by the wobbling saw which indicates the saw of life is out of line and the carriage off the track.  I defy the oldest sages of philosophy to show me the difference between flux and no flux; to show me the time when flux was not there.  He must take the number of hours in which this milk soured and began to curdle.  It first commenced its changing process at a stationary condition, under a suitable temperature.  The milk sours in a common pan, just as the blood would sour in the pans of the bowels or the mesentery arteries, veins, or muscles.  Therefore you have simply an effect, and you call that a particular disease: it is effect only.  Ninety-nine times out of one hundred that same machine has a wobbling saw; it has left the line; it is not tracking on the course of life as by nature given, and things are not harmonious.

    Why should I prosecute this for years?  Because I could count as much as an old mathematician in simple addition at least.  I could make a mark for Tom Smith, died under the doctor's treatment; and Jim Smith, also dead, and John Henry Smith, likewise dead.  However, I omitted to say that the father and mother were both dead of flux.  I began to see, during the Civil War, in that part of the States of Missouri and Kansas where the doctors were shut out, the children did not die.  I began to
reason as to why it was so.  Our ministers say the birds are provided for, and I just thought if God took care of them He took care of those children too.  There is the same ability there to sustain them through the summer and winter.  Nature has provided for a great many emergencies.  When a mule has worked all day, and the muscles of his spine are pulled out like a shoestring, what does he do?  He finds a good place to roll, kicks up his heels, kicks another mule or two, and has gone through his Osteopath manipulation.  He shows a little sense.  An old hen when she gets what you call microbes in her feathers, does what?  She gets out her microscope and looks through, and concludes they are microbes; then she hunts up a dust-heap, and leaves them there.  Watch the hog. He knows more than his master; when he gets the fever he goes into the mud and stays there until the fever leaves.  Some years ago a man had the cholera, and his friends concluded they would help the old man cover himself up in the sand and let him die.  They went off up the river and left him, and the next morning he was with them and ready for his breakfast.  They left him to die, but he got well.

    I have a very kindly feeling for this day.  On the 22d day of June, 1874, at ten o'clock, was the first time I ever saw the gravy of liberty, and I have been sopping my bread in it ever since, and, like eating olives, it was a little difficult at first, but now they all want olives.  The whole of North America is beginning to say: "I will take some olives, if you please."  The Irishman took some, but said: "Begobs, who spoiled the plums?"  Our students, our early diplomats who have gone out from here, have withstood the howitzers in every engagement, and come out victorious.  That poor little Ammerman, who is about as big as a little piece of chewing-gum after the Sunday services are over, went down into Kentucky, and swung a little Osteopathic flag to the breeze there.  They brought the laws of that great State to bear upon the little banty of less than a year's experience.  His works followed him into the court, and the grand jury of the great State of Kentucky says "Not guilty."

    One of my poor, feeble-minded sons, who has been a follower of mine, went up to Minnesota.  He was arrested for what?  For not seeing diphtheria where there was none.  There is a law there that quarantines against diphtheria, measles, scarlet fever, etc .  Well, my boy is just like his father; he knows so little that he is not afraid of it.  He has more grit than brains, I suppose.  I was told by Senator Nelson, of that State, that he went into twenty-eight houses in one day, and the next day took down all of those cardboards.


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    It looked as if there were dressmakers in every house until you took a closer observation.  They were put up by order of the state board of health or state board of ignorance, to keep the people from spreading diphtheria.  There were hundreds of them in that little town of Red Wing.  Senator Nelson said be went into those houses with my son Charles (who is a diplomat of Osteopathy).  The children's tongues were sticking out of their months, their throats were red; but he said Charles never lost a case.  He also told me, previous to that time one hundred and fourteen children died in that vicinity with diphtheria in one day, but that Osteopathy did not lose a single case during that winter.  And for saving the lives of those children my son was arrested and brought before the court.  What was the result?  The fathers and mothers came out by the hundreds, and the prosecuting doctors and attorneys concluded to "git."  Those Swedes and Norwegians said if Still was found guilty they would hang the doctors.  The people declared that from center to circumference of Minnesota, Osteopathy should live.  They also came over from Wisconsin en masse with their firearms to set at liberty that boy the very instant he was put in jail for violating the laws by saving children's lives.  They declared that the people were the law, and the statute the tool. The statute is a money-making provision, and when the people arise they are the law of the country.  In Louisville, Kentucky, the people are the law; in the State of Missouri the people are the law; also in Kansas; and in many parts of the United States.  Americans will not have their liberties abridged.  Neither are they going to take the doctor of their choice through the kitchen any more. Twenty-two years ago I had to crawl in through the kitchen to see a child that had the croup.  The child's uncle, John Tibbs, of Macon city, sent me a telegram to come and see his brotber's child, that was dying with croup.  They had had a consultation of five or six doctors, who decided the child could not live.  One of them was a good old English doctor who got drunk occasionally, and he said the child would soon be in the "harms of the Great Hi Ham."  The child's uncle and Mr. McCaw met me at the depot, took me to the house, and succeeded in taking me through the kitchen; wouldn't let me go in through the front way for fear we would meet some of the doctors coming out.  In five minutes' time the child began to breathe easy and play about the house.  Since that time there has been an Osteopathic home at that place.  Since that time Osteopathy has become known throughout the whole State, and the intelligent man has confidence in it.  The philosopher also has confidence in its ability to cure.  The fathers and mothers call in the Osteopaths and pay for their service now.

    One objection to Osteopathy is that it may make thieves and scoundrels.  Some men come here for a little while and go away and say, "I have been in Kirksville; I am an Osteopath," and so on.  They steal from the people wherever they can until found out.  They are drunken scoundrels, the very trash of your town.  So far it is dangerous.  The medical doctors have said it was dangerous, because with a few cures in a neighborhood, Osteopathy is liable to become the grandest system of robbery in the world.  Men will stand up and curse this science to the very last, and then get on the train, go off three or four hundred miles, and say they are from the city of Jerusalem, commonly called Kirksville; that they are right from the rivers of life, and thoroughly understand this science.  They are men who never did anything but curse it as the lowest conception of foolishness and ignorance.  Another dangerous point I want you to guard against is, that as soon as our students begin to know a little something of Osteopathy, some one will come and offer to pay their expenses to foreign parts if they will go.  They propose to pay them well if they will go and practice Osteopathy, when they are no more fit than a donkey is to go in a jewelry-shop.  Men come and ask me what to do for sore throat, and so on, and say they will pay so much for it.  They tell our young students that they have plenty of money, and will pay their expenses and two hundred dollars a month if they will go with them.  This is a great temptation to a young man who has not had fifteen cents with which to buy his girl chewing-gum.  Some of them know of their condition, and hang round among the patients and strangers, and make them tempting offers, saying: "Don't you go to the old doctor; he is jealous of us." They keep this up until they are off with him, and away they go, like any other deceivers.

    Having followed this science for twenty-two years, I am fully convinced that the God of nature has done His work completely.  I am satisfied that a revolution stands before you today -- a healing revolution, a revolution in the human mind that will result in the study of anatomy in our district schools and colleges.  It is one of the most important studies for all the schools.  When I commenced this study I took the human bones and handled them week in and week out, month in and month out, and never laid them down while I was awake for twelve months.  There is a great danger to the student of Osteopathy, that he may conclude be ought to be out as quick as some hostler or some fellow that has been round here for a little while, and is out stealing from the people today.  You ask when you come here how long it takes a man to become competent to go into a community and withstand the howitzers that will be thrown at him.  We tell you, from long experience in this science, that it will require twice twelve months. I can take you up as a herd of sheep, comb you and grease you, and send you out in the market, and the best judge can't tell whether you are good or bad sheep; but I will not do it.  You ask me for truth, I will give it you.  If
you send your son or daughter here, you do not want them to go out incompetent.

    A number of those who have been with us a year go out, and some do some good.  Previous to the time we got our institution so we could handle it, we did the best we could: just like the preacher's wife who borrowed cloth to patch her husband's shirt -- she did the best she could; and she stayed home because she had no shoes, which was the best she could do.  We have reached the time now that we can do better.

    Two years ago, when I commenced this building, fifty by ninety feet hall, ten rooms, etc., the people said: "What is that old fool doing down there, putting up a house of that size?  He is crazy." Do you know the condition that fellow is in now ? He finds that he needs another building forty by sixty feet and ten more rooms in order to accommodate the people.  Do you see how the work has grown?  One person speaks to another, and another, and reports what is being done.  That is all the advertising we have had.  We print our journal to answer your questions concerning the science.

    For twenty-two years I have been looking at the parts of the human engine, and I find it is a most wonderfully constructed engine, with the intelligence of mind and the spirit of God from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet.  I believe that is God's medical drug-store, and that all cures of nature are in the body.

    If I were to take up this subject and discuss it as a philosophy, no one hot night would be sufficient for an introduction to it.  I do not think I could tell it in six months or six years.  It is as inexhaustible as the works of the whole universe.

    If I live twelve months longer I expect to reverently respect the twenty-second day of June, 1897, the anniversary of Osteopathy.