How Dr. Jack Amassed A Loyal Clientele Even Though It Was Illegal For A Slave To Practice Medicine

3 Posted by - March 1, 2021 - BLACK MEN, Blacks In Medicine, LATEST POSTS, SLAVERY

The remarkable Jack Macon was owned by Maury County resident William H. Macon — the nephew of early North Carolina Sen. Nathaniel Macon, for whom all towns, cities and counties called Macon are named. Like his uncle, William seemed less than enthusiastic about the government trying to tell him how to run his life. So when Jack showed a propensity for healing the sick and the lame, William sent him out to take on some white patients, even though it was illegal for slaves to practice medicine. He amassed a loyal clientele.

Since Jack wasn’t legally a person, when he was busted, William got in trouble. In 1831, Dr. Jack’s patients petitioned the state government to find a way to let him practice medicine without breaking the law. The state legislature declined. William and Jack moved clear across the state to Fayette County, where Jack continued to practice medicine illegally. In 1843, his white patients again petitioned the state legislature to give Dr. Jack an exemption to the law. This too failed.

Ten years later, Jack Macon was listed in the first Nashville city directory among the other doctors — “Jack, Root Doctor, Office — 20 N Front St.” Since he has no last name, we can surmise that he’s still a slave — a slave illegally practicing medicine in the open, mere blocks from the legislature that refused to let him practice legally. For whatever reason, no one in Nashville troubled him about it. There’s no record of him being freed, but interment records at the Nashville City Cemetery state that Jack died a free man of color, “known as Dr. Jack,” on May 16, 1860, at the age of 80.

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