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SANITARY PROGRESS IN TENNESSEE.
On the 5th of June, 1866, there was organized in Nashville the first Board of Health in Tennessee. Soon after, in 186—* a similar organization was formed for the city of Memphis, since which time locali Boards of Health have been established in all of the larger towns, and most of the smaller ones in the State, until to-day they number fifty-five, which are in every instance producing good fruit by developing an intelligent public sentiment and a growing interest in regard to the value and importance of sanitary science as applied, not only to communities, but also to individual households and persons. In April, 1874, a Committee was appointed by the State Medical Society to prepare and present to the State Legislature at its next session a bill providing for the establishment of a State Board of Health. This bill passed the House but was lost in the Senate. Two years afterwards, (1877) another bill was presented, which, after much effort and explanation, finally passed with the section of the bill providing for an appropriation of funds stricken out, thus securing the organization simply of " the State Board of Health of the State of Tennessee,” without any executive power or means with which to
any of the more practical objects for which it was established, consequently they were compelled to content themselves with acting as an advisory body only, notwithstanding the
* The exact date, after much effort, we have failed to ascertain.
Western and Southern portions of the State as far East as Chattanooga, were during the summer of 1878, swept by a most disastrous epidemic of yellow fever. They issued advisory circulars through the secular press upon the lesser epidemics, such as scarlet fever, diptheria, etc., which appeared in different localities through the State, and otherwise gave timely counsel to the people, and created, as opportunity offered, an interest in, and encouraged the dissemination of information upon all topics comprehended in the term Public Hygiene. Two years subsequently the Legislature passed an amendatory act which was approved by the Governor, March 1879, giving the Board additional powers. and making a small appropriation of money, which enabled them to obtain an office and pay their Secretary a salary. During the summer which followed (in July) the yellow fever again made its appearance in Memphis, and for a full account of the course pursued by the State Board in reference to it, sce report of Committee on Epidemic of Yellow Fever in Shelby county, 1879.
The subject of State or preventive medicine has been for several years attracting more and greater attention, especially from the occurrence of frequent epidemics throughout the Union. The necessity of some organized and co-operative efforts on the part of persons clothed with authority to take such steps as may be deemed sufficient to protect the country from the rapid spread of epidemics, became so apparent that many of the States organized State Boards of Health, and such powers were delegated to them as were thought proper to effect the purpose of their creation. An effort had been made two years before by the Tennessee State Medical Society to induce the Legislature to establish a State Board of Health, but without avail. During the session of 1876–77, Dr. Maddox, senator elect from Shelby county, at the request of a committee appoiuted by the State Medical Society, introduced the following bill, which, after being modified in several particulars, finally passed, as will be observed, shorn of some of its most essential features :
AN ACT to create a State Board of Health, for better protection for life and health, and the prevention of the spread of diseases in the State of Tennessee.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That there is hereby created and established a State Board of Health, to be denominated “ The State Board of Health of the State of Tennessee," and to be constituted as follows :
SEC. 2. Be it further enacted, That within twenty days after the passage of this Act the Governor shall appoint five physicians of sklll and experience, regular graduates of medicine, who have been engaged in practice not less than ten years; one from East Tennessee, three from Middle Tennessee, and one from West Tennessee. Three members of this Board so appointed shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, at any regular called or adjourned meeting. All vacancies occurring by death, resignation, or otherwise, shall be filled by the Board, with the advice and consent of the Governor, and commissioned as hereinafter provided.
SEC. 3. Be it further enacted, That immediately, or as soon as expedient, after the appointment of said five physicians as aforesaid, they shall meet at the office of the Secretary of State, and having taken the oath prescribed for other State officers, the Secretary of State shall issue to each of said members of the aforesaid State Board of Health, a certificate of appointment, upon receiving which they shall severally be and become members of the “ State Board of Health of the State of Tennessee," and shall possess the power and perform the duties of said Board as defined by this Act; and they shall hold their office respectively for the terms following, namely : One for one year, one for two years, one for three years, one for four years, and one for five years, oruntil their successors are appointed and qualified. They shall next proceed under the direction of the Secretary of State, to determine by lot which of them shall hold their office for the respective terms of one, two, three, four and five years, which being determined, the Secretary of State shall enter upon their certificates of appointment the term of office. thus fixed upon each member. The term of office of members of the Board after the expiration of the terms aforesaid shall be five years.
SEC. 4. Be it further enacted, That immediately after determining the term of office as heretofore provided, the Board shall proceed to organize by electing one of their number President of the Board, and by electing a proper person, who shall be a regular physician of skill and experience, to be Secretary of said Board, and in case the Board shall elect one of their number Secretary then, upon his acceptance of that position, there shall be a va-cancy in the Board, which shall be filled as other vacancies are filled. The Secretary shall continue in office as such for a term of five years, unless removed by a majority of the whole Board by the election of a successor, or otherwise, snd shall be the executive of said Board. He shall give bond with security in the sum of ($10,000) ten thousand dollars, conditioned by th faithful performance of his duty, which bond, when accepted by
the Board, shall be made of record with the proceedings of the Board and placed on file with the Secretary of State. He shall keep his office at some central and convenient place in the State, and shall perform the duties prescribed by this Act, or required by the Board.
SEC. 5. Be it further enacted, That the Secretary shall receive an annual salary, which shall be fixed by the Board, and the Board shall quarterly certify the amount due him, and on presentation of the certificate the Comptroller shall draw his warrant upon the State Treasurer for the amount. The members shall receive no per diem compensation for their services, but their traveling and other necessary expenses while employed in the business of the Board shall be allowed and paid.
SEC. 6. Be it further enacted, That the State Board of Health shall have the general supervision of the interests of health and life of the citizens of this State. They shall especially study the vital statistics of the State, and endeavor to make intelligent and proper use of the records of sickness and death among the people. They shall make sanitary investigations and enquiries respecting the causes of disease, especially epidemics; the causes of death, effects of employment, habits, localities and circumstances, upon the health of the people. They shall, when they deem it necessary, advise in reference to location, water supply, drainage and ventilation of any public institution. They shall, from time to time, recommend works upon the sublect of hygiene for the use of schools of the State.
SEC. 7. Be it further enacted, That in order to afford to this Board better advantages for obtaining knowledge important to be incorporated with that collected through special investigations and from other sources, it is hereby made obligatory upon every municipality throughout the State, having five thousand and over inhabitants, to organize within sixty days after the passage of this Act, provided such municipalities have not already done so, a properly constructed Board of Health, which, in addition to their duties as such local boards, shall also make monthly, quarterly, semi-annual and annual reports to” and in accordance with such form and instructions as said State Board of Health may prescribe, and also shall make special reports as may be required.
SEC. 8. Be it further enacted, That the Board shall meet quarterly at Nashville, and at such other places and times as they may deem expedient. A majority of the Board shall constitue a quorum. The Board may adopt rules and by-laws, subject to the provisions of this Act.
SEC. 9. Be it further en acted, That this Act take effect and be