Mason Fitch Cogswell was born in Canterbury, Connecticut, on September 28, 1761. Following the death of his mother, he was adopted by Samuel Huntington, who served as president of the Continental Congress between 1779 and 1781. Cogswell attended Yale College and was valedictorian of the class of 1780. After graduating, he studied medicine under his brother James, a surgeon, at an army hospital in New York, and he eventually became a prominent physician, pioneering surgeries for cataracts and for diseases of the carotid arteries. He and his wife, Mary Austin Ledyard, lived in Hartford, Connecticut, and had two children, Alice and Mason Fitch (1807-1865). In 1817, influenced by the plight of his daughter, who had become deaf after a bout of childhood meningitis, Cogswell worked with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet to found what is now the American School for the Deaf. He also co-founded the Connecticut Retreat for the Insane. Mason F. Cogswell died on December 10, 1830.