PURPOSE: To review the life of Dr. Edward Jackson and his contributions to American medicine and ophthalmology, using as a reference point 1896, the year of the founding of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. METHODS: Review of published materials by and about Edward Jackson and other historical materials to evaluate Dr. Jackson's contributions to and the status of American ophthalmology during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. RESULTS: Eighteen ninety-six was a seminal year for Dr. Jackson. He assumed a leadership role in American ophthalmology and medicine while overcoming personal tragedy and the difficult transition from being part of the Eastern establishment to becoming 'a great champion of the West.' CONCLUSION: The issues and events of 1896, and their evolution and repercussions in subsequent decades, confirm that Edward Jackson was a major figure in shaping modern American ophthalmology.
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