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WHICH PREVAILED IN PHILADELPHIA,
IN THE YEAR 1793:
Statement of the Proceedings
THAT TOOK PLACE ON THE SUBJECT,
IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE UNITED STATES.
BY M. CAREY.
FIFTH EDITION, IMPROVED.
At a meeting of the citizens of Philadelphia, the Northern Liberties, and District of Southwark, assembled on Saturday, the 22d day of March, 1794, at the City Hall, for the purpose of taking into consideration the report of their committee, appointed to prepare an instrument expressive of the most cordial, grateful, and fraternal thanks of the citizens of Philadelphia, to their Committee of Health, for the important, hazardous, and successful services by them rendered, during the calamity that lately afflicted the city and liberties, the following form was unanimously adopted and agreed to:
Whereas it hath pleased the supreme Ruler and Governor of the Universe to permit, during the months of August, September, and October last, a most dreadful visitation or epidemic malady to afflict the city and liberties of Philadelphia, in such manner that it is supposed that not less than five thousand of the inhabitants thereof have fallen victims to the same: and whereas the following citizens of Philadelphia, as guardians of the poor, to wit, James Wil. son, Jacob Jenkins, and William Sansom; and the following persons, as a committee of health, to wit, Mattnew Clarkson, Stephen Girard, John Letchworth, John Haroorth, Thomas Sadery, Henry Deforest, Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, Caleb Lowndes, Peter Helm, James Kerr, James Sraine, Jacob Witman, John Connelly, Daniel Offley, Thomas Wistar, Israel Israel, James Sharswood, Mathew Carey, Samuel Benge, Andrew Adgate, and Joseph Inskeep; and the following persons, members of the Assistant Committee of Health, in the Northern Liberties and district of Southwark, to wit, William P. Spragues, William Gregory, John Burns, Jacob Winnemore, and Shubart Armitage ; totally disregarding their own personal preservation, and only in. tent on arresting the progress of the malignant disorder, with a magnanimity and patriotism meriting the highest eulogiums, stood forth, and by every generous and endearing exertion,
preserved the lives of many of their fellow citizens from death, by conveying them to a suitable hospital which they had provided at Bushhill for their reception; where, under the meritorious exertions and peculiar care of Stephen Girard and Peter Helm, two of the citizens above named, every possible comfort was provided for the sick, and decent burial for those whom their efforts could not preserve from the ravages of the prevailing distemper. In order, therefore, to perpetuate the memory of such distinguished usefulness to distant times, and to serve as an example and encouragement to others to emulate the like beneficent virtues, should it ever unfortunately again become necessary to practise them :--the citizens of Philadelphia, the districts of Southwark and Northern Liberties, do, by this instrument, present to the above named William Sansom, as a guardian of the poor; to the above named Matthew Clarkson, Caleb Lowndes, Thomas Wistar, Stephen Girard, Peter Helm, Israel Israel, John Letchworth, James Kerr, James Sharswood, John Haworth, James Swaine, Mathew Carey, Thomas Savery, Jacob Witman, Samuel Benge, Henry Deforest, and John Connelly, as a Committee of Health; and to the above named William P. Spragues, William Gregory, Joseph Burns, Jacob Winnemore, and Shubart Armitage, as members of the Assistant Committee of Health; their most cordial, grateful, and fraternal thanks, for their benevolent and patriotic exertions in relieving the miseries of suffering humanity on the late occasion. And as Andrew Adgate, Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, Joseph Inskeep, and Daniel Offley, members of the Committee of Health; and Jaines Wilson and Jacob Jenkins, members of the Assistant Committee of Health, unfortunately tell victims to their generous exertions for the preservation of the inhabi. tants, it is hoped that their great services will be held in everlasting remembrance by the citizens, to whose welfare they so nobly devoted themselves, even unto death ; and that this will be evidenced on all proper occasions, in a suitable attention to their surviving relatives.
Ordered, That a copy of this instrument be duly engrossed upon parchment, signed by the Chairman of the meeting, and presented to each of the persons above named, and to the representatives of the deceased overseers of the poor and members of the committees above named, to remain with them as a memorial of the sense their fellow citizens entertain of the services rendered them, during the late dreadful calamity. March 22d, 1794.
Tho. M'KEAN, Chairman.
PREVALENT IN THE YEAR 1793,
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
Philadelphia, November 13, 1793. The favourable reception given to the very imperfect account of the fever which I lately published, and the particular desire of some of my friends, have induced me to undertake a more satisfactory history of it, in order to collect together, while facts are recent, as many of the most interesting occurrences of this awful visitation as I could, for the information of the public.
I have not attempted any embellishment or ornament of style; but have merely aimed at telling plain facts in plain language. I have taken every precaution to arrive at the truth; and hope the errors in the account will not be found numerous.
For the desultory plan of some part of the pamphlet, I have to offer the following apology; many of the circumstances and reflections towards the conclusion, which appertained with more propriety to the beginning, did not occur, until some of the first half sheets were not only written, but printed. I had no choice, therefore, but either to omit them, or place them somewhat out of order. I preferred the latter.
A large portion of the facts mentioned have fallen under my own observation. Those of a different description, I have been assiduous to collect from every person of credibility, possessed of information.
Desirous of having this account correct and complete, I have printed off but a small number of copies of the present edition: and shall esteem myself most particularly obliged to any person who will be so kind to point out errors, to be corrected in, or
suggest facts, to be added to, a new edition, which I propose to put to press very soon, and which will, I hope, be found more ample than the present one.
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.*
November 23, 1793. When I published the first edition of this pamphlet, it was my intention to have greatly enlarged it for a second one, and to have new-modelled it, so as to preserve a connexion between its several parts, in which it is extremely deficient. But its speedy sale, and the demand for more copies, render it impossible for me to do more, at present, than make such corrections as the kindness of a few friends has led them to point out.
In giving an account of the proceedings that took place on the subject of the disorder, throughout the union, I have suppressed many a harsh comment, which was forcing itself on me; from the reflection, that in similar circumstances, we might perhaps have been equally severe. And to perpetuate animosities, is performing a very unfriendly office. They are easily generated; but their extinction is a work of time and difficulty. Let us, therefore, (especially when we “hold the mirror up to nature" at home,) not only forgive, but even forget, if possible, all the unpleasant treatment our citizens have experienced.
I have heard more than one person object to the account of the shocking circumstances that occurred in Philadelphia, as portraying the manners of the people in an unfavourable light. If that be the case, the fault is not mine. I am conscious I have not exaggerated the matter. But I do not conceive it can have that effect; for it would be as unjust as injudicious to draw the character of Philadelphia from the proceedings of a period of horror and affright, when all the “mild charities of social life” were suppressed by regard for self, as to stamp eternal infamy on a nation, for the atrocities perpetrated in times of civil broils, when all the “ angry passions” are roused into dreadful and ferocious activity.
* A large portion of this edition was sent to Europe, chiefly by merchants and traders, to their correspondents, to justify, by the calamitous state of affairs and the consequent suspension of business, the failure of remittances. Besides thoso sent with such views, numbers were sent to friends abroad for the gratification of their curiosity.
PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.
November 30, 1793. This pamphlet comes before the public a third time, and, in some measure, in a new form. I have reduced it to as methodical a state, as in my power, but not as much so as I could wish, nor, I fear, as the reader may expect. To one merit only do I lay claim in the compilation; that is, of having meant well. If, on a fair perusal, the candid allow that claim, I shall be satisfied to have the execution censured with all the severity of which criticism is capable. However, I beg leave to inform the reader, that this day ends one month, since the writing of the pamphlet commenced. I know that the shortness of the time employed, is no justification of a bad performance; but it may somewhat extenuate the defects of a middling one.
I have found several objections made to parts of it. Most of them I have removed. Some few, resting on the sentiments of individuals, directly contrary to my own judgment, I have passed over. For, until my reason is convinced, I cannot change my opinion for that of any person whatever.
To those gentlemen who have been so kind to furnish me with facts to enlarge and improve the work, I profess myself under great obligations. I request them to continue their kindness; as, if public favour should give this trifle a fourth edition, I shall add all that may be communicated in the interim; otherwise I shall probably publish separately what may be worthy of the public eye.
PREFACE TO THE FOURTH EDITION.
Jan. 16, 1794. The uncommon degree of favour which this pamphlet has experienced, has impressed me with lively sentiments of gratitude. As the only proper return in my power, I have, in each successive edition, used every endeavour to improve it.
In the number of victims to the late calamily, there were many strangers,-among whom were probably some, by whose