The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia 1793

July 19th, 2010

Philadelphia 1793: It was an unusually hot and dry summer. Mosquitoes were ravaging the population of what was then America’s largest city. Philadelphia was also a major international port, and at the time hundreds of Caribbean refugees were filing off the ships bringing Yellow Fever. It was the mosquitoes that spread the disease among the inhabitants, but not even renowned Philadelphia physician Dr. Benjamin Rush, seemed to understand this.
Many simply fled the city until the fall, including Congress, the President and the War Department staff, including Secretary of War Knox. All told, about four thousand died. One of the War Department staffers who remained in the City was Quarter Master and Military Store Keeper Samuel Hodgdon.  Check out his heart-rending descriptions of the suffering.

America’s Birthday

July 6th, 2010

Patriotism runs deep within the War Department documents.  This spirit is more of an unspoken common vision, expressed in how the officials deal with legal procedures, assess the use of public money, foreign relations, powers of the Executive Dept, and so on.   A search of documents written on July 4th by ANYONE to or from the War Department does not discuss the nations birth, growth, and progress.  There is a lone document by Samuel Hodgdon that gives a nod to the celebration of another year of independence.   Has anyone found other documentation within the archive that discuss patriotism and independence on the “birthday” of the United States of America?

I’ve answered my own question.  There’s document by Samuel Hodgdon that remarks about the use of powder for 4th of July celebrations.  The document was written on July 9th.