James McClurg

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James McClurg
File:James McClurg.jpg
10th Mayor of Richmond, Virginia
In office
Delegate to the Philadelphia Convention
Personal details
Born 1746
near Hampton, Colony of Virginia
Died July 9, 1823
Richmond, Virginia
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Seldon
Children Elizabeth Seldon McClurg
Alma mater College of William and Mary
University of Edinburgh
Profession Physician, Statesman

James McClurg (1746 – July 9, 1823) was a delegate to the Philadelphia Convention and the 17th mayor of Richmond, Virginia. McClurg's lifelong friendship with Thomas Jefferson dated from their school days.

Medical career

Dr. McClurg was one of the most distinguished physicians in the colonies, educated (and later professor) at the College of William and Mary. Dr. McClurg received a medical degree from the University of Edinburgh and also studied in London and Paris.[1] Dr. McClurg practiced first in Williamsburg, then in Richmond. His work and writings were well-received and respected by the medical community on both sides of the Atlantic. His Experiments upon the Human Bile and Reflections on the Biliary Secretions (London: 1772), was translated into several languages.

Dr. McClurg returned to Virginia in 1773, was appointed professor of anatomy and medicine at his alma mater in 1779, and also served as a surgeon in the state navy. Dr. McClurg achieved renown in Richmond for his efforts to stop various epidemics, including the yellow fever in 1798. However, his contagious disease focus later brought criticism in connection with the botched toxicological work in the celebrated trial concerning the murder of Judge George Wythe, whom he initially thought suffered from cholera, not arsenic poisoning.[2] Dr. McClurg was also the first honoree of the Philadelphia Journal of Medical and Physical Sciences.[3] In 1820 and 1821 Dr. McClurg was president of Virginia's state medical society.

Public Service

When Patrick Henry refused to attend the Philadelphia Convention, Virginia's legislature selected Dr. McClurg as a delegate along with George Washington, George Mason. James Madison, Edmund Randolph and George Wythe. Dr. McClurg thus became one of three physicians (with Hugh Williamson and James McHenry) involved in crafting the U.S. Constitution. McClurg advocated increased executive powers while at the Convention, but returned to Virginia in early August. He never returned, worried that his "vote would only operate to produce a division, & so destroy the vote of the state."[4] He never returned, and thus did not sign the final draft when finished in September 1787. President Washington later considered nominating him as Secretary of State, after [Thomas Jefferson] resigned.

Dr. McClurg served on Virginia's Executive Council during Washington's administration. A Richmond city councilman for more than a dozen years, Dr. McClurg was elected mayor for three terms, first in 1797.[5]


Dr. McClurg married Elizabeth Seldon in 1779. Their daughter, Elizabeth Seldon McClurg, married John Wickham (1763), a celebrated Richmond attorney. Widowed in 1818, Dr. McClurg left his practice to his nephew, Dr. James Drew McCaw. Although a Presbyterian, Dr. McClurg is buried at St. John's Church in Richmond.

See also

External links


  1. "America's Founding Fathers - Delegates to the Constitutional Convention, James McClurg, Virginia".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Bruce Chadwick, I Am Murdered (New Jersey, Wiley and Sons, 2009) pp. 181-185
  3. Chadwick p. 179
  4. "James McClurg to James Madison, August 5, 1787". Retrieved February 16, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Chadwick at p. 178