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death, estates have fallen to heirs at a distance. It being, therefore, of great importance to extend and improve the list of the dead, and to remedy the extreme inaccuracy of the sextons' returns, I employed suitable persons to go through the city and liberties, and make inquiry at every house, without exception, for the names and occupations of the dead. The disobliging temper of some, and the fears of others, that an improper use would be made of the information they could have given, have, in various instances, defeated my purpose. Imperfect, however, as the list still remains, I hope it will be found useful in removing anxious doubts, and conveying to persons in different countries, the melancholy information of the decease of relatives, which, but for such a channel of communication, would, in many cases, be difficult, if not impossible to acquire for years to come.*
* The list here referred to, contained nearly 2,500 names, but is omitted in this fifth edition as no longer necessary.
March 1, 1830.
A SHORT ACCOUNT, &c.
State of Philadelphia previous to the appearance of the Malignant Fever
with a few observations on some of the consequences of that calamity.
BEFORE I enter on the consideration of this disorder, it may not be improper to offer a few introductory remarks on the situation of Philadelphia previous to its commencement, which will reflect light on some of the circumstances mentioned in the course of the narrative.
The manufactures, trade, and commerce of this city, had, for a considerable time, been improving and extending with great rapidity. From the period of the adoption of the federal government, at which time America was at the lowest ebb of distress, her situation had progressively become more and more prosperous. Confidence, formerly banished, was universally restored. Property of every kind rose to, and in many instances beyond, its real value: and a few revolving years exhibited the interesting spectacle of a young country, with a new form of government, emerging from a state which had approached very near to anarchy, and acquiring all the stability and nerve of the best-toned and oldest nations.
In this prosperity, which revived the almost extinguished hopes of four millions of people, Philadelphia participated in an eminent degree. Numbers of new houses, in almost every street, built in a very neat, elegant style, adorned, at the same time that they greatly enlarged, the city. Its population was extending fast. House-rent had risen to an extravagant height; it was in many cases double, and in some treble what it had been a year or two before; and, as is generally the case,
when a city is advancing in prosperity, it far exceeded the real increase of trade. The number of applicants for houses, exceeding the number of houses to be let, one bid over another; and affairs were in such a situation, that many people, though they had a tolerable run of business, could hardly do more than clear their rents, and were, literally, toiling for their landlords alone. Luxury, the usual, and perhaps inevitable concomitant of prosperity, was gaining ground in a manner very alarming to those who considered how far the virtue, the liberty, and the happiness of a nation depend on its temperance and sober manners. Many of our citizens had been, for some time, in the imprudent habit of regulating their expenses by prospects formed in sanguine hours, when every probability was caught at as a certainty, not by their actual profits, or income. The number of coaches, coachees, chairs, &c., lately set up by men in the middle rank of life, is hardly credible. Not to enter into a minute detail, let it suffice to remark, that extravagance, in various forms, was gradually eradicating the plain and wholesome habits of the city.
However, from November, 1792, to the end of last June, the difficulties of Philadelphia were extreme. The establishment of the Bank of Pennsylvania, in embryo for the most part of that time, had arrested in the two other banks such a quantity of the circulating specie, as embarrassed almost every kind of business; to this was added the distress arising from the very numerous failures in England, which had extremely harassed several of our capital merchants. During this period, many men experienced as great difficulties as were ever known in this city. But the commencement, in July, of the operations of the Bank of Pennsylvania, conducted on the most generous and enlarged principles, placed business on its former favourable footing. Every man looked forward to the coming autumn as likely to produce a vast extension of trade. But how fleeting are all human views! how uncertain all plans founded on earthly appearances! All these flattering prospects vanished "like the baseless fabric of a vision.”
In July, arrived the unfortunate fugitives from Cape François. And on this occasion, the liberality of Philadelphia was displayed in a most respectable point of light. Nearly 12,000 dollars were in a few days collected for their relief. Little
* It is with great pleasure, I embrace this opportunity of declaring, that the very liberal conduct of the Bank of the United States, at this trying season, was the means of saving many a deserving and industrious man from ruin. No similar institution was ever conducted on a more favourable, and at the same time, prudent plan, than this bank adopted at the time here mentioned.
alas! did many of the contributors, then in easy circumstances, imagine, that a few weeks would leave their wives and children · dependent on public charity, as has since unfortunately happen-. ed:
an awful instance of the rapid and warning vicissitudes of affairs on this transitory stage.
About this time, the destroying scourge, the malignant fever, crept in among us, and nipped in the bud the fairest blossoms that imagination could form. And oh! what a dreadful contrast has since taken place! Many women, then in the lap of ease and contentment, are bereft of beloved husbands, and left with numerous families of children to maintain, unqualified for the arduous task-many orphans are destitute of parents to foster and protect them-many entire families are swept away, without leaving a trace behind"-many first commercial houses are totally dissolved, by the death of the parties, and their affairs are necessarily left in so deranged a state, that the losses and distresses which must take place, are beyond estimation.*
* It cannot be improper to state some of the effects of this calamity beyond the sacrifice of life, so far as trade and commerce are concerned. The protests of notes for a few weeks past, have exceeded all former examples; for a great proportion of the merchants and traders having left the city, and been totally unable, from the stagnation of business, and the diversion of their expected resources, to make any provision for payment, most of their notes have been protested, as they became due. The Bank of the United States, on the 15th of October, passed a resolve, empowering the cashier to renew all discounted notes, when the same drawers and indorsers were offered, and declaring that no notes should be protested when the indorsers bound themselves in writing, to be accountable in the same manner as in cases of protest. The disadvantages resulting from this visitation extended far beyond Philadelphia. Many parts of Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, exclusive of the back settlements of Pennsylvania, and the western states, drew their supplies, if not wholly, at least principally, from Philadelphia, which was in general the mart whither they sent their produce. Cut off from this quarter, their merchants have had to seek out other markets, which being unprepared for such an increased demand, their supplies have been imperfect; and, owing to the briskness of the sales, the prices have been, naturally enough, very considerably enhanced. Besides, they went to places in which their credit was not established—and had in most cases to advance cash. And many country dealers have had no opportunity of sending their produce to market, which has consequently remained unsold. Business, therefore, has languished in many parts of the union; and it is probable, that, considering the matter merely in a commercial point of light, the shock caused by the fever, has been felt far to the south and west of this State.
Symptoms—a slight Sketch of the Mode of Treatment.
“The symptoms which characterized the first stage of the fever, were, in the greatest number of cases, after a chilly fit of some duration, a quick, tense pulse-hot skin-pain in the head, back, and limbs-flushed countenance-inflamed eye-moist tongue oppression and sense of soreness at the stomach, especially upon pressure—frequent sick qualms, and retchings to vomit, without discharging any thing, except the contents last taken into the stomach—costiveness, &c. And when stools were procured, the first generally showed a defect of bile, or an obstruction to its entrance into the intestines. But brisk purges generally altered this appearance.
“These symptoms generally continued with more or less violence from one to three, four, or even five days; and then gradually abating, left the patient free from every complaint, except general debility. On the febrile symptoms suddenly subsiding, they were immediately succeeded by a yellow tinge in the opaque cornea, or whites of the eyes—an increased oppression at the præcordia—a constant puking of every thing taken into the stomach, with much straining, accompanied with a hoarse, hollow noise.
“If these symptoms were not soon relieved, a vomiting of matter, resembling coffee grounds in colour and consistence, commonly called the black vomit, sometimes accompanied with, or succeeded by hæmorrhages from the nose, fauces, gums, and other parts of the body-a yellowish purple colour, and putrescent appearance of the whole body, hiccup, agitations, deep and distressed sighing, comatose delirium, and finally, death. When the disease proved fatal, it was generally between the fifth and eighth days.
“This was the most usual progress of this formidable disease, through its several stages. There were, however, very considerable variations in the symptoms, as well as in the duration of its different stages, according to the constitution and temperament of the patient, the state of the weather, the manner of treatment, &c.