Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2012 Issue

Robert Scott, M.D. - a chance encounter

Chronology-chart 1r

The first of 14 charts

During his years as schoolmaster he would become a published author, his first book, the one I am discussing, offered as an antidote to deism in 1810; Chronology from the Creation to the year 1810.  Two years later his second book, A Treatise on the Millennium was set into print.  Both volumes were published in Poughkeepsie and thereafter all but disappeared.

Not to be content with the titles schoolmaster and author he also carried on the work of a surveyor and many of the old maps of Rhinebeck bear his name.  Later it was he who would bring the Baptist Church to Rhinebeck, and on July 5, 1821 at the age of sixty years be ordained to the gospel ministry and set over the infant church as pastor, his busy career ending only with his death - on September 24, 1834.

To posterity he left a grieving wife, references to himself in local histories, these two slim volumes and some difficult to locate pamphlets he authored.  He was an unusually gifted man.

In his antidote to deism; Chronology from the Creation to the year 1810 he sought to prove that religion and science could be reconciled and in so doing debunk the idea, elsewhere called the clockwork universe theory, “in which a god designs and builds a universe, but steps aside to let it run on its own.  For Dr. Scott God was both very real and very involved.

In his introduction to his Chronology he wrote:

To the Reader”

The reason which first induced me to undertake the following Work, was to satisfy my own mind, by attempting the removal of an objection often urged by men opposed to REVEALED RELIGION, viz, “That the Chronological Dates are so uncertain and contradictory, that no dependence can be placed upon them.”  How far I have succeeded in the under taking, must be left to every one to judge for himself.  Only this I must say, that after a close investigation of the subject, I am fully persuaded that the objection is without foundation, and that no writings, either ancient or modern, give so clear an account of matters of fact, nor represent the history of two separate kingdoms so plain as the books of the Kings and Chronicles do the history of the kings of Israel and Judah.”

In his book that is mostly charts and explanations he traces the history of the world from the creation, dating the lives of those named in the Bible and of course dating signal events such as Noah and the Ark.  In detail the Bible’s complex cast is juxtaposed – references by book, chapter and verse set against a detailed chronology that over 5,810 years connects the creation of the world to the presidency of James Madison in 5,813 or, as we remember it now, 1809.

It is an exuberant tale, brimming with an optimistic certainty that the world has not since reflected.  For that response we need look no further than the AED and the OCLC.  In the AED a single reference in Sabin notes both books and credits them to Dr. Scott.  Elsewhere, among the more than 3.6 million items described in the AED there is only silence.  In the OCLC we find a single original copy of the Chronology in the Library of Congress and but neither shard nor shadow suggesting any copies of his second book.  It seems likely his print runs were as small as his intellectual ambitions were large. 

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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