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Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Hamilton was the Tom Hanks of his time; People Stopped Shaking Hands 230 Years Before with Yellow Fever

We have been down this road before. America had a yellow fever epidemic in the early years of the republic. In Philadelphia the city was besieged with victims belching up black vomit. Like Coronovirus the disease was foreign born coming from the West Indies. A wet spring in Philadelphia gave way to a hot summer that produced a bumper crop of mosquitoes spreading the disease. Philadelphians began practicing social distancing by walking in the streets and staying away from crowds. People stopped shaking hands and covered their noses with cloths dipped in vinegar and chewed on garlic. Twenty thousand people fled the city with barely enough government employees left to run the country (Philadelphia was the Washington of our time)

Then the rock star of government Alexander Hamilton along with his wife came down with the disease. The treatment he received was standard. Alexander and his wife went to a cottage and there a Dr. Rush began administering his yellow fever medicine. First he bled his patients. Then he emptied the Hamilton's bowels four times and for good measure induced vomiting. This regiment was given three times in one day. The Hamiltons could barely move. Finally the Hamiltons began to recover but then their real adventure began.

They were blocked from entering the city. People didn't believe they had been cured. The opposition party said the opposite that Hamilton was faking it. Then when they let them in the city they wouldn't allow his carriage or belongings thinking they were carrying the yellow fever. Eventually the epidemic subsided and people returned to the city. Life returned to normal. 

Books by William Hazelgrove