John Sappington

Dr. John Sappington
George Caleb Bingham, 1834

John Sappington (1776-1856), a pioneer physician from Saline County in the Boonslick, probably attended the Lexington Convention with his son- in-laws, M. M. Marmaduke and C. F. Jackson. [Shoemaker, Missouri's Proslavery Fight for Kansas, Part II, 335] Sappington was born in Maryland and studied medicine in Tennessee with his father and received a degree from the Philadelphia Medical College in 1814. He married Kentucky Governor John Breathitt's sister Jane in 1814 and 1819 the couple pioneered just west of Arrow Rock. [Morrow, Dr. John Sappington, 38ff]

Sappington's medical practice was wide ranging in central Missouri. He did not believe in the common practice of bloodletting and developed a quinine pill to treat malarial fever. His medical society denounced him as a quack, but his "anti-fever pills" quickly became the frontier's most famous prescription. In 1844, he wrote "The Theory and Treatment of Fevers," the first medical treatise published west of the Mississippi River. After 1832 he devoted his efforts to sale of "Dr. John Sappington's Anti-Fever Pills." He became a wealthy man and a benefactor of the public schools and Saline County. [Western Historical Manuscript Collection-Columbia, Sappington]

Sappington was a prominent Democrat and close friend of Andrew Jackson. He had worked with Thomas Hart Benton in Tennessee and was for years a supporter of Benton, finally splitting with the Missouri Senator over the issue of expansion of slavery in the West. Sappington was a leader in the "Central Clique," a group of Boonslick politicians who controlled Democratic politics in Missouri for 25 years. [Dickey, Arrow Rock,174]

Charles Clark