Born On This Day In Newport – April 15, 1786: Walter Channing

Walter Channing

Walter Channing, an American physician and professor of medicine, was born on April 15th, 1786 in Newport, RI.

Walter Channing was the grandson of William Ellery (who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence) the brother of preacher William Ellery Channing (founder of Channing Memorial Church in Newport) and of fellow Harvard professor (of Rhetoric), Edward Tyrrel Channing. He was also the father of the poet William Ellery Channing.

Walter Channing’s most significant contribution, and what he may be best known for, is his advocacy of anesthesia in childbirth and for being the first American physician (in 1847) to use anesthesia during childbirth.

Channing was the first professor of obstetrics at Harvard University (in 1815) and was co-editor of the New England Journal of Medicine and Surgeryand wrote the classic Treatise on Etherization in Childbirth in 1848.

Channing’s first wife, neé Barbara Higginson Perkins died of consumption in 1822. In 1831 he married Eliza Wainwright who died three years later in childbirth.

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Walter Channing died at the age of 90 on July 27th, 1876 in Brookline, MA.

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