It’s February 2018 and doctors have declared this year’s seasonal flu epidemic as one of the worst to hit the United States in over a decade. Yet this flu epidemic is nothing compared to the yellow fever epidemics that struck the early American republic during the 1790s and early 1800s.
So what happened when epidemic diseases took hold in early America? How did early Americans deal with disease and illness?
Thomas Apel, author of Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds: Science and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic, has some answers for us.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.
Thomas Apel, author of Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds: Science and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic, leads our investigation of the yellow fever epidemics that struck the United States between the 1790s and early 1800s.
During our investigation, Thomas reveals what yellow fever is, how it’s transmitted, and what the disease does to the human body; How yellow fever came to the United States; And, how early Americans thought about, treated, and worked to combat outbreaks of yellow fever.
What You’ll Discover
- Yellow fever
- Yellow fever mortality rates
- How yellow fever came to North America
- How yellow fever spread and flourished during the 1790s and early 1800s
- Links between yellow fever and trade
- Early American treatments for yellow fever
- How early Americans thought about yellow fever
- Benjamin Rush, Samuel Latham Mitchell, and Noah Webster
- The role of history in early American medical inquiry
- Chemistry in early America
- The role of religion in the yellow fever debate
- Why we should study yellow fever in the early republic
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- Thomas Apel
- Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds: Science and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic
- Episode 005: Jeanne Abrams, Revolutionary Medicine
- Episode 052: Ronald Johnson, Early United States-Haitian Diplomacy
- Episode 116: Erica Charters, Disease & the Seven Years’ War
- Episode 124: James Alexander Dun, Making the Haitian Revolution in Early America
- Episode 164:The American Revolution in the Haitian Revolution
- Episode 169: Thomas Kidd, The Religious Life of Benjamin Franklin
Time Warp Question
In your opinion, what might have happened if yellow fever carrying mosquitos had never arrived in the United States? How would the history of early America and its pursuit of scientific and medical knowledge have been different?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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