Philadelphia’s 1793 Yellow Fever: Narrative of the Proceedings of Black People

Topics: Black people, White people, African American Pages: 3 (980 words) Published: July 8, 2013
The 1793 yellow fever outbreak was a national problem. At this time the United States Capital was located in Philadelphia, PA. This essay will focus on the outbreak in Philadelphia, PA, particularly how a few different views of the African American community played a role. During this terrible time thousands of local residents fled Philadelphia, including prominent members of government such as the first United States President, George Washington along with many other community members. A local paper had an ad looking for people of color to help attend to the sick. The ad also assured those helped would not get sick ,and would be compensated. Responding to this ad was Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. Both men were leaders in the African American Community as well as free men. Fast forward to the details of what happened during this period. There were multiple theories as to the cause of the outbreak. Who could or couldn’t contract the disease was unclear as well. Also, accusations of theft and price gouging were made regarding those who helped. Then an article was written by Matthew Carey, a prominent white printer in Philadelphia. While he praised Richard Allen and Absalom Jones for their work (Winch) he suggested that blacks had caused the epidemic, and that some black nurses had charged high fees and even stolen from those for whom they cared. (Carey) This caused a printed rebuttal by Allen to save the reputation of the African American community. Allen wrote for everyone to read about what he personally saw, as he stayed in Philadelphia during the outbreak, and was on the front line helping. Multiple accounts of the helping blacks were noted in his text. Examples of African Americans caring for, treating, and burying the ill are given. In most of these instances no money was taken by the African Americans who stepped up to help. However, Mr. Allen did admit there were a few instances of shady acts by members of his community. Mr....

Cited: Crowley, Sharon, and Michael Stancliff. “A narrative of the proceedings of the black people during the late awful calamity in Philadelphia.” Critical Situations a Rhetoric for Writing in Communities. Lauren A. Finn. Penguin Academics, 2008. 281-95. Print.
Carey, Matthew. “A short account of the malignant fever.” 1794. P.63 web. Retrieved June 20 2013.
Winch, Julie. “on Jones and Allen’s responses to Carey.” Part 3. Philadelphia, Yellow Fever Epidemics. PBS.org. 1998. Retrieved June 20 2013
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