Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793. (2)

JH Powell
New York: time Incorporated
1949 (1965)

Ideas and Quotes for Discussion
"And two Negroes [Absalom Jones and Richard Allen], former slaves...the first to show that fear could be conquered by the spirit of Christian love."

"No conduct, however heroic, could expiate the original sin of a dark skin."

"A poor Negro named Sampson went from house to house caring for the sick and taking no reward. When he himself fell a victim of the fever, none of those he had helped would aid his family."

"That he [Dr. Rush] was wrong [in administering purging and bleeding],tragically, disastrously, frightfully wrong, everyone was not to realize for more than a century, nor shall we ever know how many lives his errors cost, but the courage he imparted to others was as healing as his purging and bleeding were undoubtedly destructive...."

"For Dr. rush stood forth unafraid in a community dominated by fear. There was only one doctor who would enter a fetid chamber, scorn all protections, sit on the edge of a vomit-soiled bed, smile cheerfully to the frightened patient, say blandly, 'You have nothing but a yellow fever.' "

"In doorways and alleys, in yards and courts, in open streets people lay dying," turned out of their houses by their families.

"Those who were in health one day were buried the next."

Symptoms: "...lassitude, glazed eyes, chills, fevers, headaches, nausea, retching, nosebleeds; yellow tinge in the eyeballs, puking, straining in the stomach; black vomit, hiccoughs, depression, comatose delirium, stupor, purplish discoloration of the whole body, death. Insanity was often the last stage of its horror."

"But from September 15 on, panic would meet its match in the leadership of three men--in Dr. Rush's serene confidence, in Stephen Girard's organizing genius, in Matthew Clarkson's cool and resolute determination. These were the leaders who refused to fear fear."

"There are heroisms unrecorded, great moments of beauty and courage that have left no trace, unknowable human experiences that could teach wisdom and understanding.... But history is always full of gaps."

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