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Dr. James C. Jackson – Timeline


1811: Jackson was born in Manlius, Onondaga County, New York, on March 28. He lived there and worked as a farmer until 1838. 

1830: He married Lucretia Edgerton Brewster when he was 19 years old. She was a lineal descendant of William Brewster, a Mayflower colonist. He worked on a farm during this time, but his health continued to decline. As a result, he discontinued farming and instead began studying medicine to better understand his health.

Jackson managed and wrote for the Albany Patriot paper, an abolitionist newspaper, until his failing health forced him to retire.

1840: He lectured for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, becoming the society’s secretary.

1844: Jackson managed and wrote for the Albany Patriot paper, an abolitionist newspaper, until his failing health forced him to retire.

1846–1847: Jackson had a remarkable recovery after taking a ‘water cure’ at a spa operated by Silas Gleason, the Greenwood Spring Water Cure in New York. He worked here until he eventually opened his own clinic.

1847: The hydropathic institute was opened at Glen Haven on Skaneateles Lake, New York.

1850: Jackson obtained a medical degree from Syracuse Central Medical College.

1852: Jackson published Hints on the Reproductive Organs: Their Diseases, Causes, and Cure on Hydropathic Principles. In this book, Jackson begins with the doctor’s role. He reviews qualifications, issues of medicine, and medicinal abuses. He specifically discusses men and women and their diseases, treatment, and the five principal causes of disease. Jackson believes in the impact of man’s vices and discusses the effects on the body and relationships within the family.

1856: James Caleb Jackson founded the National Dress Reform Association (NDRA) in February. The association attracted members from almost every state, many of whom supported hydropathy and women’s clothing reform for health reasons. The organization didn’t meet regularly during the Civil War and never continued once the war ended.

James Jackson's Sanatorium
James Jackson’s Sanatorium

1858: ‘Our Home Hygienic Institute opened in Dansville, New York. It became the largest hygienic institute in the world, caring for over 20,000 patients. It was situated on the hillside park of 60 acres of woodland and lawn, with water flowing from the rocky heights, which provided mountain spring water. The comfort and welfare of the sick were the first consideration, but every opportunity was provided for those who desired a healthy retreat from the world. The atmospheric conditions benefitted those suffering from liver, kidney, throat, or skin affections. It was renamed ‘Our Home on the Hillside,’ where Jackson worked with his wife and their adopted daughter, Dr. Harriet Newell Austin. The family eventually called it the Jackson Sanatorium, also known as the Jackson Health Resort.

1860: The Journal Laws of Life began. The journal focuses on all subjects relating to life and health and embodies the experience of years of practice by the largest Hygienic Institution in America. The aim was to advocate improved ways of living and how to live healthfully and make health the basis for growth and development. These journals also included articles about health and social change. 

1862: The book Consumption: How to Prevent It, and How to Cure It was written. In this book, Jackson reviews two kinds of consumption. One is called tubercular or pulmonary, and the other is termed bowel consumption. He writes about hereditary issues that grew out of living habits. These were causes that were not congenital but induced after birth.

1862: Jackson also wrote The Sexual Organism and its Healthful Management. Jackson starts with the basics of pregnancy, nursing, and weaning. He dives into the care of children through teenagers. He focuses on medications, drugging, sexual diseases, and treatment. Jackson pays special attention to women and writes about puberty, menstruation, the uterus, sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and abortion. 

1863: Jackson took a different look at dancing in his work Dancing: Its Evils and Its Benefits. This book begins with the issues of women’s clothing of the day. When dancing, which is a vigorous exercise, blood circulation cannot be naturally maintained. Additionally, most dances are held in poorly ventilated places, causing the air in the room to be unhealthy. He also shares that at almost every social party, before the dance ends, supper is usually served, which leads to overeating. He counteracts his argument, favoring the idea that everyone is entitled to innocent amusement. And if that amusement benefits man from properly using it, he is justified.

1863: Jackson created the first breakfast cereal and named it Granula. Jackson believed that the digestive system was the basis of illness. He began experimenting with cold cereal as a treatment. Granula was similar to Grape Nuts but much larger and more challenging to chew. It was made of bran-rich graham flour made into chunks. Chewing was so tough that it had to be soaked overnight to consume.

1865: The book The Philosophy of Drunkenness and its Cure was written. Jackson writes that the moderate use of alcohol runs into a moderate use by stages. As the stages become worse, he eventually loses self-control. Healthy men often form habits whose evil influence on them they do not consider until it becomes difficult to overcome. Many believe that alcoholic stimulants are necessary for their health. How can you ask them to give up this indulgence if they think it necessary? Jackson believed the best way to cure a drunkard was to see that he never became one. The best way to do this is to keep him from having an appetite or desire or feeling of the need for stimulants.

To do this, you must serve nutrient-rich and unstimulating foods while young, drink no tea or coffee, use no tobacco, or take known narcotic drugs or stimulating medicines. With this practice in place, Jackson believes that one will not become an alcoholic as an adult. 

However, to cure someone who has developed alcoholism, you must control their food and drink, having them eat rightly at the table. Induce that person to forgo the use of all condiments, tobacco, and drugs, and he can no longer remain an alcoholic. Control the food and table, beverages, condiments, and drug medication.

1865: Jackson was allowed the use of tobacco as a youth, and it made him very ill. He notes in his book Tobacco and Its Effect upon the Health and Character of Those Who Use It that within the last 25 years, the use of tobacco has increased by 33%. He shares that tobacco should be classed as one of the most potent poisons known to humankind. He shares that he’s had the opportunity to study the effect of tobacco on over 2000 people at the Institute. He knows that when someone begins using tobacco, they experience some or all of these symptoms: becoming sick to their stomach, ringing ears, partial loss of sight, contractions of the throat, difficulty in breathing, or relaxation of the lower bowels.

1868: As humans are frequently sick, it becomes essential that we know how to be treated when sick. To this end, Jackson wrote How to Nurse the Sick. He believed that one should make the sick as comfortable as possible. Move them into a spacious, well-lit (sunlight), and ventilated space. It should be a warm place with as little noise as possible, keeping visitors away. Bed clothing and sheets should be kept clean and dry.

  • He gives specific directions on the water treatment cure and when and what type of water cure should be used. He discusses that fluid foods such as porridges or gruel should be given in small portions and at long intervals. 

1870: In this book, The Gluttony Plague, or How Persons Kill Themselves by Eating, Jackson jumps right in and discusses bad dietetics. He then defines gluttony as eating food that is 

  • unhealthy in itself, 
  • overeating, 
  • eating at improper times
  • He dives into how animals were raised and the issues of eating animal flesh. He switches to discussing a simple diet, keeping it as close to nature as possible, and shares tips on food preparation. The last part focuses on the bodily effects of gluttony and how it destroys the strength of the body. Jackson believed that gluttony led to and created a desire for alcohol, tobacco, and narcotic drugs, resulting in a variety of adverse health problems and behaviors.

1870: Jackson defines piles, otherwise known as hemorrhoids, as pain, heat, or other uneasy sensation in the rectum and anus, followed by tumors or a flow of blood reoccurring at intervals. He believes that this disease begins with issues in the stomach or liver. He discusses the impact of poisonous medications, sedentary habits, and poor-quality food on the digestive tract through several cases in his book, Piles and Their Treatment.

Journal - Laws of Life
Journal Laws of Life
The aim was to advocate
for improved ways of living.

1872: The Journal Laws of Life and Woman’s Health Journal was created by Dr. Harriet Austin. It included articles Jackson contributed about the water cure, hygiene, dietetics, and general health topics. 

1872: Jackson’s book, The Training of Children, describes the child’s developmental stages, nutrition, sleep, prevention of ailments, education, puberty, character development, and marriage. He also covers pregnancy, labor, and infant care.

1878: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, from Battle Creek, Michigan, came to study the treatment regimen of rest, fresh air, exercise, and simple diet. He was deeply impressed by Dr. Jackson’s creation, the breakfast cereal Granula.

1879: After Dr. James Caleb Jackson retired, his son, Dr. James H. Jackson, continued. Future generations of nutritionists would espouse much of what they both taught. 

1882: Jackson wrote the book Christ as A Physician and discussed that many diseases that afflicted people were avoidable and might be avoided by Christians if they lived close to Christ. It is not far-fetched to say that to be intimate with Him would enable all who are curable to get well. He shares that he witnessed people so worn down by disease as to be, to all ordinary conception, close to the gates of death, abandoned by the most skillful physicians, declared again and again to be past help. On coming here and submitting their cases to Jesus and asking for His aid, they have, from that moment, gone straight to health. It does not set aside the laws which promote the health of the body. It adds significantly to their efficacy by bringing into play the supporting and saving forces of the Holy Spirit.

1883: On Dr. Jackson’s 70th birthday, he delivered this speech. He shared his early life, continued illness at the hands of his medical doctor father, and his path to learning the Water Cure. He also shares his journey to Christianity and discusses the role of prayer and belief. It was hardbound in the book The Sanitarium

1885: Jackson writes in this book, The Debilities of Our Boys and the Early Decay of Our Young Men, that a large proportion of all the youth of the country is addicted to masturbation, which is sapping the foundations of their health and spreading ruin and decay among all classes. He discusses that these habits depend primarily upon an inflammatory condition of the blood, which irritates the brain, and this results from bad living habits, especially from using stimulating foods and drinks, condiments, tobacco, etc. Jackson discussed diseases that may directly have their origin in the perverse use of sexual organs and can cause mental and moral abnormalities and impotency. He further writes on the impact of drugs, medication, alcohol, and men marrying too young, which does not give themselves time to solidify their bodies before they engage their reproductive organs. Finally, with proper curative treatment, relief from resultant diseases and a change in the blood conditions will show relief from the irritation of the brain.

1885: Jackson discussed in his publication, The Curse,” lifted, or Maternity Made Easy, the woman’s condition before, during, and after the birth of her child. He reviews working during pregnancy, diet, dress, open air, sleep, and the use of water.

1886 – 1895: Dr. Jackson moved to North Adams, Massachusetts, where he continued writing for the Laws of Life and Journal of Health publication. He contributed to writing about health reforms and actively engaged in political and social movements until his death.

1895: During one of his trips back to visit Dansville, NY, he was taken ill and died on July 11th at the age of 84.

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