William Beaumont (November 21, 1785 – April 25, 1853) was a surgeon in the U.S. Army who became known as the "Father of Gastric Physiology" following his research on human digestion.
William Beaumont was born to Samuel and Lucretia Abel Beaumont in Lebanon, Connecticut. In 1811 William trained to become a doctor through an apprenticeship with Dr. Truman Powell in St. Albans, Vermont. From 1812 until 1815, Beaumont served as a surgeon's mate in the army during the War of 1812. After the war ended he started a private practice in Plattsburgh, New York, but by 1819 Beaumont had rejoined the army as a surgeon. He was assigned a location at Fort Mackinac. Beaumont took a leave in 1821, and married Deborah Green Platt in Plattsburgh, before returning to his post. Deborah was divorced from Nathaniel Platt, whose uncle Zephaniah Platt founded Plattsburgh after the beginning of the Revolutionary War.
On June 6, 1822, an employee of the American Fur Company on Mackinac Island, named Alexis St. Martin, was accidentally shot in the stomach by a discharge of a musket loaded with a duck shot from close range that injured his ribs and his stomach. Dr. Beaumont treated his wound, but expected St. Martin to die from his injuries. Despite this dire prediction, St. Martin survived - but with a hole, or fistula, in his stomach that never fully healed. Unable to continue work for the American Fur Company, he was hired as a handyman by Dr. Beaumont.