This interpretation of the relationship between enslavement and American medicine in 19th century South Carolina reveals the intimacy that existed between Africans enslaved in that state and the doctors who practiced and taught there. Enslaved Africans were resourceful and reliable medical figures in the slave community. Their knowledge of medical botany permeated the slave quarters and plantation hospitals and was appropriated into southern medical knowledge. The trajectories of the careers of three South Carolina physicians are tied to their practice around and on the enslaved. The beginnings of gynecological surgery are linked to 1840s experimentation on enslaved African women performed by one of them.