John Pemberton

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John Stith Pemberton (July 8, 1831 – August 16, 1888) was a Confederate veteran and an American druggist, and perhaps was best known for being the inventor of Coca-Cola, which in his lifetime was used only for medical purposes.


Early life

Pemberton was born to James Clifford Pemberton (born 1803 in North Carolina) and Martha L. Gant (born 1791 in Virginia).[1][2] Though born in nearby Knoxville, Georgia, Pemberton, as a young child, moved with his family to the larger city of Columbus, Georgia. He was a graduate of the University of Georgia pharmacy school.

Pemberton was the nephew of the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, native John C. Pemberton, the Confederate commander during the Union siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi, and who surrendered that city to Union forces on July 4, 1863.[3]

Invention of Coca-Cola

In April 1865, Pemberton was wounded in the Battle of Columbus, Georgia, and like many wounded veterans he became addicted to morphine. Searching for a cure for this addiction, he began experimenting with coca and coca wines, eventually creating his own version of Vin Mariani, containing kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton's French Wine Coca.[4][5]

With public concern about drug addiction, depression and alcoholism among veterans, and "neurasthenia" among "highly-strung" Southern women,[6] his medicinal concoction was advertised as being particularly beneficial for "ladies, and all those whose sedentary employment causes nervous prostration, irregularities of the stomach, bowels and kidneys, who require a nerve tonic and a pure, delightful diffusable stimulant".[7]

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