David J. Peck

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David Jones Peck (c. 1826-1855) was an American physician. He was the first African American to receive a Doctor of Medicine from an American medical school.

Peck, a native of Carlisle, Pennsylvania was born to Sarah Jones Peck and John C. Peck (1802-1875), a prominent abolitionist of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. John Peck, a native of Hagerstown, Maryland, was a barber, wigmaker, and minister who was active in cultural and antislavery activities in and around Pittsburgh, where he lived after 1837.[1] From about 1844 to 1846, David Peck studied medicine under Dr. Joseph P. Gazzam, a white anti-slavery physician. After his two years of study with Gazzam, Peck entered Rush Medical College, Chicago in autumn 1846, and graduated in 1847. During the summer after graduation, Peck toured the state of Ohio with William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass.

He set up a medical practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1848. He married Mary Lewis in Chicago, Illinois in 1849. When his medical practice in Philadelphia proved unsuccessful, he returned to Pittsburgh in 1850.

At the suggestion of Martin R. Delany, Peck moved to San Juan del Norte, Nicaragua in early 1852.

Peck was killed in the spring of 1855 in a skirmish between Democratic forces and their Republican rivals at Jalteva, Nicaragua (near Granada). The latter forces had been deposed after an election in 1854. Dr. Peck's death is recollected by Charles William Doubleday (1829-1909) in Chapter 4 of his Reminiscences of the 'Filibuster' War in Nicaragua.[2] Peck died as the result of concussion injuries sustained when a Republican cannonier fired on the position from which Doubleday and Peck had been observing their activities.[3]

No photographs of Dr. Peck are known to exist.


  1. ^ http://www.library.pitt.edu/freeatlast/abolition.html Accessed May 26, 2014
  2. ^ Charles W. Doubleday: Reminiscences of the 'Filibuster' War in Nicaragua. (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1886), 47-48 http://www.latinamericanstudies.org/book/Doubleday.pdf accessed May 26, 2014
  3. ^ Eddy Kuhl, "David Jones Peck, the first Afro-American Doctor Died in Nicaragua in 1855," http://salvanegra.com/eddy/?p=202 accessed May 26, 2014