A Short Account of the Malignant Fever...

At an early stage of the disorder, the elders of the African church met, and offered their services to the mayor to procure nurses for the sick, and to assist in burying the dead. Their offers were accepted; and Absalom Jones and Richard Allen undertook the former department, that of furnishing nurses, and William Gray, the latter -- the interment of the dead. The great demand for nurses afforded an opportunity for imposition, which was eagerly by some of the vilest of the blacks. They extorted two, three, four, and even five dollars a night for attendance, which would have been well paid by a single dollar. Some of them were even detected in plundering the houses of the sick. But it is wrong to cast a censure on the whole for this sort of conduct, as many have done. The services of Jones, Allen, and Gray, and others of their colour, have been very great, and demand public gratitude.

When the yellow fever prevailed in South Carolina, the negroes, according to that accurate observer, Dr. Lining, were wholly free from it. "There is something very singular
"in the constitution of the negroes," says he,
"which renders them not liable to this fever;
"for though many of them were as much ex-
"posed as the nurses to this infection; yet I
"never knew one instance of this fever among
"them, though they are equally subject with
"the white people to the bilious fever." The
same idea prevailed for a considerable time in Philadelphia; but it was erroneous. They did not escape the disorder; however, the number of them that were seized with it, was not great; and, as I am informed by an eminent doctor, "it yielded to the power of medicine in them
"more easily than in the whites."
Courtesy Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston


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