CHIROPRACTIC HISTORY: The AMA Agenda to Destroy the Competition

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Part One: The Early Years (1847-1924)

Dr. Mike Bucknell  /  June 23, 2015 / NutritionChiropractic, Supplementation, Education

This post is a supplement to the workshop published on June 23, 2015 by Dr. Mike Bucknell and can be found on his YouTube channel at .  Due to the quantity of the information, it has been separated into two parts:

CHIROPRACTIC HISTORY: The AMA Agenda to Destroy Competition Part One: The Early Years (1847 1924)

CHIROPRACTIC HISTORY: The AMA Agenda to Destroy Competition Part Two: The Formative Years (1925 – Present)

In this workshop Dr. Bucknell covers the nauseating history filled with corruption that Chiropractic has survived. Organized medicine has made every attempt over the last century to maintain its power grab. But there is hope in looking back at what has made Chiropractic the largest alternative health profession in the world today.

This is probably one of the most important workshops we could do.  Why should we care about the history of Chiropractic?  What possible value could that have to the average person?

It’s not the kind of “history” that discusses “Let’s show you what Granddaddy did.”  This workshop will show you why things are the way they are, and I’m telling you, it will open your eyes to what is behind the history of Chiropractic and how it has defined the history of healthcare in this nation and the world.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

How do we learn from the way things happened in the past so that we don’t repeat that in the future?  How do we transition health care so that we don’t continue to do the same things? That will be the focus of this workshop.

Starting from the Beginning…


  • Let’s start all the way back when the American Medical Association was formed.  You must understand that the express reason for the creation of the AMA was to “increase physicians’ income by restricting new practitioner competition.”  Think about it, why do you form a homeowner’s association? It’s to protect the neighborhood, right?
  • A little more background: Up until this time, there were basically two layers of doctors, the allopathic doctors and the naturopathic doctors.  They were pretty much on the same plane – about a 50/50 split.
  • The allopathic doctors would say, “Don’t worry about the treatment because the disease will kill you”, and the naturopathic doctors would say, “Don’t worry about the disease because the treatment will kill you.” So, they had these opposing paradigms where they would go back and forth with each other.
  • Before this time doctors would actually make house calls, which was not necessarily a high prestige position – until the AMA was formed.  They knew that to increase revenues they had to get selective and create a dynamic where not just anyone could come in and call himself a doctor.  They know they had to exclude a lot of the competition.  Enter the AMA.  They could now leverage things and gain some power as well as some political gains.


  • Just two years later the AMA forms a Public Advisory Board on so called “quack remedies.”  So now they could go directly after the competition and begin to label different things “quackery” and start eliminating different fields of practice. 
  • This was well before the introduction of Chiropractic.  They were going after anything that didn’t fall within the realm of allopathic medicine, which remember at the time included using leaches, bloodletting, mercury, etc.

The Development of Chiropractic


  • Fast forward to when “The Developer”, Bartlett Joshua (“B.J.”) Palmer was born to “The Discoverer”, Daniel David (“D.D.”) Palmer.  Before he was a healer, D.D. was a lumberjack, a teacher, and a grocer selling fish on the street. 
  • You can imagine the thoughts of the AMA.  Here’s this guy who peddled fish on the street, now he’s calling himself a doctor!  Is that really that big a deal?  Before I became a Doctor of Chiropractic, I was a pizza box folder, a home audio technician, a salad bar keeper, and a table busser.  Bottom line is D.D. Palmer was a working man doing what was necessary to take care of his family.

1885 to 1894


When he was only three years old, B.J.’s mother fell ill and died. He did not have his mom growing up.  In fact, he had six different moms, you can begin to see the family dynamic.  His father D.D. lived to work – he was consumed with it, so as you can imagine there was not a great relationship between him and his father.


In this year, D.D. started his career as a magnetic healer.


Eight years later, a random medical doctor attacked him saying, “A crank on magnetism has a crazy notion that he can cure the sick and crippled with his magnetic hands.  His victims are the weak-minded, ignorant and superstitious, those foolish people who have been sick for years and have become tired of the regular physician and want health by the short-cut method…he has certainly profited by the ignorance of his victims…His increase in business shows what can be done in Davenport, even by a quack.”  NOTE:  This article was written during a time when Morphine and Mercury based “cures” were standard care in allopathic medicine.

Can you not see and hear those same types of things being written today?  Really, not much has changed.  We have patients who go to doctors and they hear these things, even from family members.  What It boils down to is this: D.D. Palmer was successful.  He had been in practice for eight years, going from one room in a building, to two rooms, then four, then the whole floor and finally the whole building.  He must have been doing something effective, and this was at a time before Chiropractic was actually developed. In addition, he probably also dealt with nutrition and lifestyle, right?

1895 to 1899


  • D.D. adjusts a man named Harvey Lillard.  Interesting story behind this…in the beginning, D.D. Palmer was very protective of Chiropractic.  He didn’t want anyone else to take this knowledge from him. The story goes that D.D. noticed a lump on Harvey Lillard’s thoracic spine, adjusted him and his hearing came back. Well, the thoracic spine doesn’t have a direct connection to hearing, so years later B.J. said that he believed his father knew that, but wrote thoracic spine instead of cervical spine (which was what he really adjusted) because he didn’t want anyone else to have the “family recipe” that he discovered!
  • In that same year, X-ray is discovered by Wilhelm Rontgen in Germany.  He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.  This is an interesting development, because it is well known that without X-ray there may be no Chiropractic.


  • D.D. opens Palmer’s School of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa.  B.J. was 13 years old at the time.  Two of the first six students were medical doctors!  With D.D. teaching and practicing, you can imagine what this did to the relationship between him and his son. He was consumed with developing an entirely new profession while B.J.’s stepmother took care of the kids.


  • Three years later, Heinrich Matthey, MD of Davenport starts an attack campaign against Palmer to create a state statute preventing anyone but an MD from practicing.  This campaign prompts schools nationwide to develop “accreditation standards”.  So, what happened here?  Chiropractors begin being trained and people start talking about Chiropractic.  The local doctors get upset.  They say, “Oh, no! You can’t start taking our patients!” 
  • So, accreditation standards started as a direct attack on Chiropractic.  Before that there was no medical “standard”.  Medical doctors were seeing that there really was healing associated with Chiropractic so they in effect said, “Okay, we’re going to lose this war – because these guys are getting them well!”  So, they developed “standards” to lock out anyone whose philosophy was different from theirs – “accreditation” standards.

1901 – 1904


  • Just two years later, state medical boards are now established in almost every state requiring a diploma from an AMA approved medical college in order to obtain a license.  Now, if you don’t have an ‘AMA backed license’, you can get arrested.  In that same year, John D. Rockefeller creates the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.  This meant that lots of steel industry money was being poured into “medicine” to develop all kinds of drugs and chemical treatments.  All this money was being poured into the allopathic field at the same time that Chiropractic was trying to develop…David vs. Goliath.


  • B. J. graduated from Palmer School of Chiropractic at 20 years of age, having learned from his father.


  • The second Chiropractic school opened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa by Dr. Solon Langworthy, a student in Palmer’s first class. 


  • Oakley Smith was the first to be licensed as a “drugless healer” under the Illinois Medical Practice Act.  This opened a legal porthole that Chiropractors in every other state could pursue.  Once again it played out that when the establishment tries to shut something out, someone finds a way to get back in.

1906 – 1907


  • The AMA’s Council on Medical Education creates a list of “unacceptable schools” to reduce the number of graduates into healthcare.  So basically, they start purging out many schools all over the country to eliminate competition.  Now all you have are big schools and institutions that can guard and protect what’s being taught.
  • In that same year, Dr. Langworthy publishes his first book on Chiropractic, entitled “Modernized Chiropractic”, establishing the brain as the “life force” of the body, the term ‘subluxation’ and effectively bringing Chiropractic into the scientific arena.  (Incidentally, the allopathic medical doctors are now finally using the term ‘subluxation’, in a complete reversal of their proclamation that subluxation doesn’t exist because it’s not backed by a double blind, placebo-controlled study!)
  • A little lesson here in case you don’t know what subluxation means. It means ‘a misalignment of the vertebrae’.  Taken from “sub” (less than) and “luxation” (dislocation).  So, it means any malposition less than a dislocation.  To deny that concept would mean that a joint is always completely in place or completely out of place – no gray area in between.  (So that “crick in your neck” is all in your head…it can’t be out of alignment, and if it’s not completely dislocated, you’re fine.  If you’ve ever had one, do you need a double-blind study to know that it’s there?)
  • Also, in that same year, B. J. Palmer assumes control of Palmer School of Chiropractic.


  • Attorney Tom Morris legally differentiates Chiropractic from Osteopathy in terms of philosophy using Langworthy’s book as the reference, and frees Shegataro Morikubo, DC of Wisconsin (also one of Palmer’s first graduate students).  He is acquitted of the charges of “unlicensed practice of medicine” therefore reshaping legal distinction for the profession.
  • Osteopathic medical doctors had been claiming that Chiropractors were practicing medicine without a license.  He used Langworthy’s book to show that based on philosophy, the two were quite different.  He argued that ‘our philosophy is this, and their philosophy is that, therefore we are not doing the same thing.’  So now the precedent was laid.  Now you see why philosophy is so important in Chiropractic.  It’s the only reason we have legal distinction.


  • In 1910, the Flexner Report, financed by the Carnegie Foundation (more big money coming in!) closes hundreds of private medical and homeopathic schools and names Johns Hopkins the “model school”.  This established the first nonprofit, federally subsidized university-based hospital, effectively gaining control of all federal healthcare research and student aid dollars in the United States.  Here’s where the power grab came in.
  • From his studies now in Oregon, D.D. Palmer theorizes that “nerves control health” in his most important Green Book, “The Chiropractic Adjuster”.  The anatomy and physiology now start to come into play.  (The Green Books are a very large collection on Chiropractic written mostly by B.J. Palmer, a very prolific writer.)

Spinography separates the pack

  • B.J. Palmer introduces Spinography (X-ray) for the first time at Palmer School of Chiropractic, resulting in a significant exodus of the more “straight” faculty and students.  Enter the difference between “straights” and the “mixers” among Chiropractors. The ‘straights’ (“purists”) practiced strictly and only adjusting, whereas the ‘mixers’ used other modalities such as x-rays, nutritional advice, exercise, physical therapy.  B. J. was a visionary.  He could see that x-ray was the means to correction of the spine, a Chiropractor’s expertise, so he knew that was the direction to take. Sadly still today a very small percentage of Chiropractors really practice “corrective” care.
  • At that time, with only 12,000 practicing Chiropractors, there were more than 15,000 prosecutions for practicing medicine without a license – more prosecutions than there were Chiropractors!  Enter the Universal Chiropractic Association (UCA – formed in 1906), which successfully defended 80% of them based on philosophy.

1911 – 1913


  • D. D. Palmer wrote a letter to P.W. Johnson, DC at the Palmer School of Chiropractic suggesting that Chiropractic move to become a religion with himself as the “fountainhead” in order to have an easier legal path as the Christian Scientists were enjoying.  That group started up and grew quickly, money was pouring in and they were outside the realm of any legal battles because they were a religious organization. So, D. D. thought, “Here we are wasting our time, fighting all these battles in this war.  Let’s just make it a religion!”  Of course, that was not a good path to take and B.J. and other doctors had the courage to say that wasn’t the right way to go.  Thus, began some of the stress between B. J. and his father, D.D.


  • B. J. purchases the 22 room Palmer Mansion for $25,000.  Four U.S. presidents visited his home during their presidencies.  That’s the kind of attention that Chiropractic was getting at that time – it was a big deal, and that was a major threat to allopathic medicine.


  • Kansas passed the first Chiropractic Statute.  This was the first time there was a statute saying that Chiropractors could be licensed.  Also, in that year D. D. Palmer dies of typhoid fever at the age of 68, and B. J. is unjustly accused of patricide supposedly running over his father at a parade. This of course was not true but spread by D.D.’s loyalists who wanted Chiropractic for themselves instead of in B.J.’s hands.

1914 – 1922


  • By now, B.J. had accumulated the largest and finest osteological collection in the entire world with 4,392 skeletons and 13,697 specimens.  Medical institutions would send their students from all over the world to Palmer to examine and learn from the collection.  Big stuff!


  • North Dakota and Arkansas became the first states to officially license Chiropractors. This was based upon all the statutes passed in all the states stating that they could be licensed.  Finally, Chiropractors have the legal right to obtain a license to practice!

1918 – 1922

  • On the heels of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and the end of World War I, the U.S. government paid tuition for returning veterans. In the workshop on the Ebola virus, we go into great detail on the numbers of deaths that occurred during the Spanish flu pandemic. 
  • During that time, standard medicine was losing exceedingly high numbers of patients under their care, while Chiropractors were documenting and showing that they were getting tremendously better results.  By adjusting them and getting their immune systems improved, people were getting and staying well.  Now huge numbers of patients were flocking to Chiropractic clinics and returning soldiers were going to Chiropractic schools.  Enrollment at Palmer School of Chiropractic alone jumped to over 3,000 students!  Measured by today’s standards, this was an extraordinary number of students!

1919 – 1924


  • State licensing boards endorsed the Federation of Chiropractic Schools and Colleges’ “3 Year and 6 Month” curriculum standard.  Why did they do this?  How long do medical doctors go to school?  About the same length of time.  Doctors were saying the Chiropractors were uneducated.
  • So, Chiropractors decided to get the same education.  In fact, today Chiropractors get more credit hours in the classroom than a medical doctor does!  True, they do have more clinical rotation time, but Chiropractors don’t prescribe drugs so they don’t have to go into rotations to learn how not to kill people (ouch). Let me explain.  When you’re a new medical doctor, you prescribe a certain medication for a certain illness.  If you do that wrong, people die.  So, you must learn how NOT to kill people.  You have to take it seriously, and It takes rotations to do that.
  • Not only that, but medical doctors get only one class – a few hours – of training in nutrition. They don’t deem it as important as giving drugs.  In addition, Chiropractors have far more training in physiology and anatomy than medical doctors.  I believe their number one course work is differential diagnosis, number two is psychology and number three is pharmacology (prescribing drugs).  So, their mode of operation is “make a diagnosis and treat it with drugs”.


  • The American Chiropractic Association (ACA) is formed to oppose Palmer and the Universal Chiropractic Association (UCA).  (This is a different ACA than a later ACA). The ACA doesn’t like the way the UCA is going, so they become basically the more “straight” association.
  • In the same year, B. J. licenses WOC radio (World of Chiropractic).  This is the first radio station west of the Mississippi.


  • The Chiropractic profession grows to about 25,000.  B.J. opens “Little Bit o’ Heaven” Gardens.  These were built on the Palmer mansion/college that were renowned worldwide, a huge tourist attraction. 
Little Bit o’ Heaven Gardens


CHIROPRACTIC HISTORY: The AMA Agenda to Destroy Competition Part Two: The Formative Years (1925 – Present)

(Discusses the progression of Chiropractic from around 1925 to the present day, and more of the hurdles that the profession has faced through the years.) 

About Dr. Michael Bucknell

Doctor Bucknell is a licensed and board certified Doctor of Chiropractic, well-known wellness expert on radio and TV, accomplished author, patent-holding inventor, and entrepreneur. He is extension faculty of Life University, served as the USA Judo, Wrestling, and Weightlifting team's Wellness Advisor and Team Doctor, and NBC Local 15 Gulf Coast's correspondent at the 2012 London Olympics.