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An American Plague: the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793
An American Plague cover.jpg
First edition
Author Jim Murphy
Country United States
Language English
Genre Nonfiction
Publisher Clarion Books
Publication date
June 3rd 2003
Media type Print (hardback)
Pages 176 pgs
ISBN 978-0-395-77608-7
OCLC 50958941

An American Plague: the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 is a 2003 nonfiction adolescent history by author Jim Murphy published by Clarion Books. An American Plague was one of the finalists in the 2003 National Book Award and was a 2004 Newbery Honor Book. It portrays the agony and pain this disease brought upon the American people marking its place in history in order to never be forgotten.


It is the year 1793 in [Philadelphia]. At this point Philadelphia is considered to be the largest city located in [North America]. The city is hit with an incurable and unknown disease. The disease killed about 50% of the people effected. The author [Jim Murphy (author)|Jim Murphy] describes a disease called the [yellow fever] and how it affected the residents of Philadelphia. In the novel he highlights the heroic roles and actions that the Philadelphia free blacks took in order to fight this deadly disease. He also didn't forget to let readers know about the constitutional crisis our first American president [George Washington] was facing that lead to him leaving the city of Philadelphia, and everything he owned and knew behind, because of this deadly disease. The cure for the disease was not found until centuries later.


Dr. Benjamin Rush: Developed a radical treatment process for the yellow fever disease which involved withdrawing blood from patients and giving patients mercury and the root of a poisonous plant.

Mayor Matthew Clarkson: The only government leader who stayed to deal with the issues that were going on in Philadelphia when the plague was taking place.

President George Washington: Was involved with foreign affairs when the plague struck and was out of touch with the government affairs for the time length of six weeks while the plague was taking over Philadelphia.

Thomas Jefferson: Was the Secretary of State when the plague struck Philadelphia.

Edmond-Charles Genêt: Was the French Ambassador who wanted the Americans to help France with their revolution.

The Reverend J. Henry c. Helmuth: Believed that the plague was a punishment sent by god because there was an increase in gambling as well as in drinking among the people of Philadelphia.

Absalom Jones: Was involved in the building of the St. George's United Methodist Church and, after participating and helping build the church, was told to sit in the back of the church by the church leaders.

Matthew Carey: Wrote a book that was pronounced to be a best seller titled "A Short Account of the Malignant Fever"

Dr. William Currie: Believed that the fever came from a shipment that came from the West Indies and claimed that it was not the yellow fever.


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