A new episode of the Madison presidency series is now available!
Oct. 1, 2017

1.18 – Pestilence

1.18 – Pestilence

Year(s) Discussed: 1786-1793

Washington, his household, and his administration struggle to deal with an epidemic of yellow fever as it makes its way through the city of Philadelphia, indiscriminately infecting people from all walks of life including a resident at the President’s House. In addition to the loss of life, the epidemic brings up questions about how best to utilize medical knowledge to the public good, the role of the press, the relationship of individuals to their environment, and the ability and role of the government in a crisis management situation.


Audio editing for this episode done by Andrew Pfannkuche.

  • Blackburn, Robin. “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution.” William and Mary Quarterly. 3rd Series, 63:4 (October 2006) 643-674.
  • Brady, Patricia. Martha Washington: An American Life. New York: Penguin Books, 2006 [2005].
  • Brighton, Ray. The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear. Portsmouth, NH: Portsmouth Marine Society, 1985.
  • Brodsky, Alyn. Benjamin Rush: Patriot and Physician. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004.
  • Cappon, Lester J, ed. The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspondence between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams. Chapel Hill, NC and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1987 [1959].
  • Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Press, 2004.
  • Chernow, Ron. Washington: A Life. New York: Penguin Press, 2010.
  • Curran, Andrew S. The Anatomy of Blackness: Science and Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.
  • Doyle, William. The Oxford History of the French Revolution. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.
  • Flexner, James Thomas. George Washington: Anguish and Farewell (1793-1799). Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown and Co, 1972 [1969].
  • Golinski, Jan. “Debating the Atmospheric Constitution: Yellow Fever and the American Climate.” Eighteenth-Century Studies. 49:2 [2016] 149-165.
  • Hamilton, Alexander. “To the College of Physicians, [11 September 1793],” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Hamilton/01-15-02-0255. [Original source: The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, vol. 15, June 1793 – January 1794, ed. Harold C. Syrett. New York: Columbia University Press, 1969, pp. 331–332.] [Last Accessed: 11 Sep 2017]
  • Jefferson, Thomas. “To James Madison, 8 September 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Madison/01-15-02-0067. [Original source: The Papers of James Madison, vol. 15, 24 March 1793 – 20 April 1795, ed. Thomas A. Mason, Robert A. Rutland, and Jeanne K. Sisson. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985, pp. 103–105.] [Last Accessed: 11 Sep 2017]
  • Landry, Jerry. The Presidencies of the United States. 2017. http://presidencies.blubrry.com.
  • Malone, Dumas. Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty: Jefferson and His Time, Volume Three. Boston: Little, Brown and Co, 1962.
  • Randolph, Edmund. “To George Washington, 13 October 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-14-02-0142. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 14, 1 September–31 December 1793, ed. David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 202–203.] [Last Accessed: 12 Sep 2017]
  • Randolph, Edmund. “To George Washington, 24 October 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-14-02-0201-0001. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 14, 1 September–31 December 1793, ed. David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 281–284.] [Last Accessed: 12 Sep 2017]
  • Reardon, John J. Edmund Randolph: A Biography. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co, 1974.
  • Rogers, George C, Jr. Evolution of a Federalist: William Loughton Smith of Charleston (1758-1812). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1967 [1962].
  • Smith, Mark A. “Andrew Brown’s ‘Earnest Endeavor’: The Federal Gazette’s Role in Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 120:4 [Oct 1996] 321-342.
  • Sonthonax, Léger-Félicité. “Proclamation. Nous Léger-Félicité Sonthonax, Commissaire Civil de la République, délégué aux Iles françaises de l’Amérique sous le vent; pour y rétablir l’ordre & la tranquillité publique, 29 August 1793.” World Digital Library. Library of Congress, et al. 29 Dec 2015. https://www.wdl.org/en/item/14721/ [Last Accessed: 23 Sep 2017]
  • Stahr, Walter. John Jay. New York: Hambledon & Continuum, 2006 [2005].
  • Stamatov, Peter. “Activist Religion, Empire, and the Emergence of Modern Long-Distance Advocacy Networks.” American Sociological Review. 75:4 (Aug 2010) 607-628.
  • Stephens, Henry Morse. A History of the French Revolution: Volume II. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1902.
  • Washington, George. “To the Commissioners for the District of Columbia, 13 June 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-13-02-0046. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 13, 1 June–31 August 1793, ed. Christine Sternberg Patrick. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2007, p. 67.] [Last Accessed: 10 Sep 2017]
  • Washington, George. “To Edmund Randolph, 14 October 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified June 29, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-14-02-0148. [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 14, 1 September–31 December 1793, ed. David R. Hoth. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008, pp. 212–214.] [Last Accessed: 12 Sep 2017]
  • Whichard, Willis P. Justice James Iredell. Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 2000.