The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 10, 2013

The Great Chiropractic Debate

Although Chiropractic was founded by D.D. Palmer in Davenport, Iowa, Clinton is also a root of this modern practice of spinal manipulation for healing. A patient of Palmer’s took the Greek words cheiros-(healing) and pracktikos- (with hands) to coin the word “chiropractor.” Both chiropractic and osteopathy were developed just before the turn of the Twentieth Century, and the first class to be graduated from the Palmer Chiropractic Infirmary was in 1897.


Dr. A.T. Stills was a Civil War physician and started Osteopathy in 1874. Stills and Palmer both felt a strong abhorrence to the medical field of their day, with its blood- letting and leeches, unsanitary surgeries, unnecessary amputations, and patent medicines. Their new areas of expertise both centered on manipulation of the spine, but disagreed as to the primary cause of disease. Dr. Palmer focused on subluxation or misaligned vertebrae, with concentration on nerves. Dr. Still’s theories centered upon bones, muscles, and uninterrupted blood flow through the arteries.


Back in about 1906, an unusual occurrence happened in Clinton -- witnessed and retold by Dr. B.J. Palmer, who was in his mid-twenties about that time. He referred to it as “The Bonesetters’ Summit.” As noted previously, The Mississippi Valley Spiritualist Association held annual summer Chautauqua’s at Mt. Pleasant Park and, that year’s highlight was a rather heated exchange between Dr. D. D. Palmer, of Davenport, and Dr. A. T. Stills of Kirksville, Mo. It might have been an impromptu debate, since both men were interested in spiritualism and regularly attended these events, or it may have been a formally scheduled one.


The shouting started almost immediately as Stills open with a burst of “You’re a Thief! You stole my work and labeled it chiropractic!” As B.J. remembers it, “Old Dad Chiro” (as D.D. referred to himself), countered with, “How can I steal that which you never owned?”

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