Fiat Flux


The Writings of Wilson R. Bachelor, Nineteenth-Century Country Doctor and Philosopher
Edited by William D Lindsey
With a Foreword by Thomas A. Bruce
and an Afterword by Jonathan Wolfe
978-1-55728-636-9 (paper)
May 2013


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Wilson R. Bachelor was a Tennessee native who moved with his family to Franklin County, Arkansas, in 1870. A country doctor and natural philosopher, Bachelor was impelled to chronicle his life from 1870 to 1902, documenting the family’s move to Arkansas, their settling a farm in Franklin County, and Bachelor’s medical practice.


Bachelor was an avid reader with wide-ranging interests in literature, science, nature, politics, and religion, and he became a self-professed freethinker in the 1870s. He was driven by a concept he called “fiat flux,” an awareness of the “rapid flight of time” that motivated him to treat the people around him and the world itself as precious and fleeting. He wrote occasional pieces for a local newspaper, bringing his unusually enlightened perspectives to the subjects of women’s rights, capital punishment, the role of religion in politics, and the domination of the American political system by economic elite in the 1890s.


These essays, along with family letters and the original diary entries, are included here for an uncommon glimpse into the life of a country doctor in nineteenth-century Arkansas.

About the contributors

Wilson R. Bachelor (1827–1903) was a country doctor and writer who lived in Franklin County Arkansas.


William D. Lindsey is the co-author of Religion and Public Life in the Southern Crossroads: Showdown States.


Tom Bruce is former dean and emeritus professor of medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and inaugural dean and emeritus professor of health policy and management, University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.


Jonathan Wolfe is professor of pharmacy practice, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Pharmacy.


“Those interested in Arkansas’s medical, religious or social history will find much of value in Fiat Flux.”

Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Summer 2015


“The more we read of this book, the more The Observer realizes that Bachelor was a kinsman to us. Such beautiful writing, too: so true and brave and honest about where he fit in.”

—The Observer, Arkansas Times, Sept. 2013


Winner of the 2014 Booker Worthen Literary Prize.