An American Plague The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

An American Plague   The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

In 1793, Philadelphia was reeling from an epidemic of yellow fever. At the same time George Washington was in the early years of developing our government and establishing policies to conduct our government with integrity and vision. The yellow fever spread ferociously through the city and had great impact on decisions that stand today. As Philadelphians fled their city, who stayed behind to tend the sick? How did we get through that very difficult time as a people and as a nation? This is a 2004 Caldecott Honor book.

176 pages 978-0395776087 Ages 10-15 (Grades 6 to 10)

Book Pairing: Pair this book with Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (contributed by Tricia-Stohr Hunt)

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


1793, Philadelphia. The nation's capital and the largest city in North America is devastated by an apparently incurable disease, cause unknown . . .

In a powerful, dramatic narrative, critically acclaimed author Jim Murphy describes the illness known as yellow fever and the toll it took on the city's residents, relating the epidemic to the major social and political events of the day and to 18th-century medical beliefs and practices. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Murphy spotlights the heroic role of Philadelphia's free blacks in combating the disease, and the Constitutional crisis that President Washington faced when he was forced to leave the city—and all his papers—while escaping the deadly contagion. The search for the fever's causes and cure, not found for more than a century afterward, provides a suspenseful counterpoint to this riveting true story of a city under siege.

An American Plague's numerous awards include a Sibert Medal, a Newbery Honor, and designation as a National Book Award Finalist. Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated with fascinating archival prints, and unflinching in its discussion of medical details, this book offers a glimpse into the conditions of American cities at the time of our nation's birth while drawing timely parallels to modern-day epidemics. Bibliography, map, index.--from the publisher

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