Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction to the 1993 Edition

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pp. ix-xvi

In the summer of 1793, the first major epidemic of yellow fever in the United States ravaged Philadelphia, the nation's temporary capital and its largest, most cosmopolitan city. Philadelphia had the most prominent doctors in the New World, but still was not prepared for the crisis. ...

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Preface to the 1949 Edition

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pp. xvii-xxii

Do not read this book before eating, or in the midst of a sleepless night. For it is a revolting book, filled with disgusting details of a loathsome disease. And unfortunately, all the details are true. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xiii-xiv

The staffs of the Free Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia have given invaluable help in the preparation of this book, as have the librarians and staffs of the College of Physicians, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the American Philosophical Society, ...

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''A Merry, Sinful Summer"

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pp. 1-7

Spring came early in 1793. The winter had been mild, with no snow and only moderate frosts. Streams had not frozen. In January it was so warm that Philadelphians could lie on their backs on the bare ground watching the baIloon ascension of the famous M. Blanchard from the Prison Yard. ...

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Infection in Water Street

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pp. 8-28

On Monday, August 19, Dr. Benjamin Rush emerged from his house in Walnut Street, just above Third. The day was cloudy, a little cooler than usual lately, with a gentle northerly breeze. Walnut Street, its line of red fronts broken by the open ground of the Friends' Almshouse across the way, ...

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Fever, Domestic and Foreign

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pp. 29-44

On Saturday, August 24, rain fell; and on Sunday the twenty-fifth a northeast storm struck with savage force. That Sunday, as dust turned to mud in the city streets and winds blew with great strength, citizens began to leave town. ...

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Prevention, Personal and Civic

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pp. 45-63

On the dockside, in Front Street, along Second and Third, in Kensington, Southwark, in the city's little alleys—in Appletree and Black Horse, Blackberry, Brooke's Court, Elbow Lane and Elfreth's Alley—in Letitia Court, Laurel and Mulberry, in Pewter-platter Alley, Sassafras and Scheibell's, ...

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Crisis

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pp. 64-89

On Sunday, September 1, Thomas Jefferson sat writing letters on the terrace of the country home he rented out near Gray's Ferry on the Schuylkill's bank. It was a pleasant place, airy and light, with fine old trees. ...

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Panic

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pp. 90-117

All the medicines in the pharmacopoeia—the doctors seemed determined to use them all—had not power enough to arrest disaster or erase the horrid scenes presented in these first two weeks of September. Terror and a numb dismay overwhelmed people. ...

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"This Excellent Physician"

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pp. 114-139

The weather remained cool and dry, even pleasant, though there was not enough rain to lay the dust, and the drought persisted. Only once in September did the temperature go above 86 degrees, twice it dropped in the night to the forties, yet the fever was not abated by the cool weather. ...

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Bush Hill

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pp. 140-176

Now Dr. Rush, for all his courage (and for all his extraordinary literary style), had really no enlarged or general view of the plague. His was a particularly personal type of experience. He saw thousands of cases, both in his office and on his rounds. He formed his judgments from them, and from what his young men told him; ...

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The Committee

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pp. 173-194

While the managers were achieving their reforms at Bush Hill, and giving the city hope thereby, the picture downtown was going from very bad to much worse. Fully half the inhabitants had fled, some thought; certainly the number was very large, yet "the malignant action of the disease increased, so that those who were in health one day were buried the next." ...

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"Sangrado"

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pp. 195-215

The news of $5,000 from New York spread about the city like a tonic. It was, Editor Brown proclaimed, an act of noble disinterestedness, of sympathy and generosity. And as other donations poured in, the Committee wisely gave publicity to them all, even the smallest. ...

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The Fugitives

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pp. 216-232

Among Quakers John Todd, Jr., was known as a promising attorney, among members of his own family as a loyal son and devoted husband. For so young a man, he had a lively social conscience. His gift of $20—far more than a young lawyer should have given—was the first contribution the Committee received, and in relief work among Friends he was tireless. ...

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Height of the Plague

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pp. 233-259

Every day was like Sunday, Ebenezer Hazard wrote, the streets deserted, houses shut. When friends met their conversation was always: What deaths today? Burials were quick, businesslike affairs, with no clergyman, no ceremony—"the putrid Corpse is committed to its kindred Earth, & covered up as expeditiously as possible." ...

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Frost

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pp. 260-279

General Washington, from the placid scenes of Mount Vernon, began writing some puzzled letters around the first of October. The government was in ridiculous confusion, with clerks and secretaries scattered all over the country; the President was receiving letters that should have gone to underlings. ...

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Afterwards

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pp. 280-286

Tragedy does not exist in history, not pure tragedy that sweeps away the hopes and dreams of men and makes an end to everything; for history is motion, and motion does not stop. The days of wrath passed by in Philadelphia, life went on, survivors looked ahead, not back. ...

Notes

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pp. 287-294

Index

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pp. 295-304