The roots of the U.S. Public Health Service, which to this day is often important to communication efforts surrounding public health issues, date back to 1798 when Congress passed—and President John Adams signed—the Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seaman. A year later the legislation was extended to include those serving in the U.S. Navy, both actions reflective of the belief that the health of the commercial seamen and navy men were integral to the economic and defense interests of the nation. The mission of the Marine Hospital Service, as it became known, remained largely unchanged for nearly 100 years.

According to Historian John L. Parascandola, a series of problems within the service led to a reorganization and centralization in 1870 with its first ...

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