W. L. (William Ludlow) Coleman.

A history of yellow fever : indisputable facts pertaining to its origin and cause ..., with an addendum on its twin sister Dengue, containing a parallel table of the most prominent symptoms of each di online

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Online LibraryW. L. (William Ludlow) ColemanA history of yellow fever : indisputable facts pertaining to its origin and cause ..., with an addendum on its twin sister Dengue, containing a parallel table of the most prominent symptoms of each di → online text (page 1 of 9)
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B ^ 527 133






And its present artificially acquired habitat, with reasons going

to show the possibiUty of its complete extinction from

the globe, its nature, ariatomical characteristics,

symptoms, course and treatment with

an addendum on its twin sister


Containing a parallel table of the most prominent symptoms
of each disease.




Houston, Texas,






And its present artificially acquired habitat, with reasons going

to show the possibility of its complete extinction from

the globe, its nature, anatomical characteristics,

symptoms, course and treatment with

an addendum on its twin sister


Containing a parallel table of the most prominent symptoms
of each disease*

^2^ ^^^ %^^ 9^^



Houston, Texas,

In compliance with current copyright

law, U. C. Library Bindery produced

this replacement volume on paper

that meets ANSI Standard Z39.48-

1984 to replace the irreparably

deteriorated original



This book is affectionately dedicated to the
Medical Profession, in which I have been a
hard and earnest worker forever forty.years, with
the hope that through them it will be the means
of accomplishing much good for my fellowmen.

The Author,


The Author's manuscript was prepared dur-^
ing the year 1 891 and has been carefully and pains-
takingly revised in the office of publication, to
comply with the political conditions now exist-
ing. It is believed that 'the Doctor's predictions
are correct and that we shall never have another
widespread epidemic of yellow fever, particular!)'
if his suggestions for the prophylactic treatment
herein expressed are faithfully carried out.
And if cases do occur we believe that the author
and his many co-workers will be able to demon-
strate that the disease can be more successfully
combatted along alkaloidal lines than it has
ever been before. We therefore heartily com-
mend the little book to all who would know the
truth of the past, the present and the probable
iuture of yellow fever.

The Clinic Publishing Gompany.

Chicago, July, 1898. v



While the launching of this frail little cjaft,
pilotless as it were and from an . unknown

jDuilder, upon the literary ocean of ^nedicine,
and especially upon that part of that turbulent
sea the surface of which has been so frequently
agitated by the fiercest and most bitter wordy
combats and violent controversial storms con-
cerning its subject, may be regarded as an act
of foolhardy temerity; yet although it is the
author's first venture in this particular depart-
ment he sends it forth fearlessly, utterly ignor-
ing and indifferent not only to the ^Hmprimatur''
of the celebrated French Academy of Sciences,
so highly prized and desired by Dr. Audouard,
but also to the endorsement of all the sp-called
scientific societies of the world, fully convinced
and well satisfied that it will be eagerly sought
for and read by that large and rapidly increas-
ing body of intelligent, progressive physicians,
"The Burggraevian Dosimetrists of Europe,"
and "The Abbott Alkalometrists of America,"

^who, being dominated solely by that rare
quality of mind, common sense, ''prove all
things" and are in no way governed by the old
rule of /'Magister dixit."

I do not mean the least disrespect or dispar-


agement of them when I say I ignore the learned
scientific bodies of the world and do not care
the snap of my little finger whether or not they
read a line of my unpretentious little collection
of irrefutable truths concerning the subject of
my work. They ignored Dr. Audouard's valu-
able brochure because it did not bear the seal of
the French Academy, although he was a special
representative of that society on the official
commission appointed by the French govern-
ment in 1821-23 to investigate the yellow fever
epidemics of Spain; while mine is not only
entirely destitute of a seal from any kind of a
society, but it is the production of one who
determined forty-five years lago, when a student,
to discover all possible hidden truths of this
disease about which the most brilliant and
gigantic minds in the profession had been
wrangling for nearly a century without coming
to a clear understanding about any of them.

And now, without a scintilla of egotism or
spirit of boasting, I present as a result of my
labors the chief of those old points of contro-
versy cleared of all mystery and established
upon the firm basis of immutable truth; and
doing this in a spirit of perfect confidence born
of this result of my labors, I demand rather
than solicit, as authors usually do, the attention
and investigation of the rank and file of the pro-
fession — that great body of hard workers who
always honestly desire and earnestly seek for


the truth in such questions, well knowing that
correct diagnosis and successful treatment can-
not be attained without a perfect knowledge of
the origin, cause and nature of disease. Hence
as it is to their interest, I expect they will be
my principal readers and I trust they may be
greatly benefited by my labors; but whether or
not I am mistaken and am premature in my pre-
diction that the scourge has.
course, and that it will neveF^roduce a general
and destructive epidemic in this country again;
yet it is reasonable to expect that on account of
the present strained state of affairs between
Spain, Cuba and our country, there is great
danger of a more wide-spread epidemic of yellow
fever this summer throughout the length and
I breadth of our land than ever has occurred or

[ ever will again occur; and in that event, there will

I be a greater number of this class of. physicians,

called upon to treat this disease than ever before
[ in its whole history. Naturally our soldiers

I will as a rule be non-immunes, and I fear, alas,

I that more of them will be cut down by this ter-

rible disease than by Spanish bayonets and
^ ^ bullets.

It is under just such circumstances that I
hope this little brochure will be of great help and
benefit; for while I have not given the profession
a treatment that will always cure the disease,
none having been discovered, yet they will find
in this work advice, directions and warnings for


preventing or modifying it that cannot be found
elsewhere and which, if heeded and carefully
followed, will save many valuable lives.

Ihave no grounds for egotism or boasting, as
nearly all the facts presented were obtained by
eminent men all along the line down to the
present; but I have been enabled by the evi-
dence of subsequent historical events to use
these facts in deducing and establishing truths
which they could not see for want of this later
evidence, thus proving Audouard's theory to be
no longer theory but a stern, irrefutable truth.

W. L. C.

Houston^ Texas, U. S. A.


"To all facts there are laws;

The efifect has its cause, and I mount to the cause."


The world is too busy to form its opinion on
a question at first hand; hence important his-
torical facts and truths are seldom recognized
or understood by people of the age in which
- they occur, for some are at times suppressed
before suitable knowledge is obtained of them,
some for political and some for commercial
reasons and yet others from bigotry; so it
\ requires time for these different objections to

I pass away, as well as for the corroborative

I evidence of subsequent events to establish them

\ beyond question as facts and truths. In the

[ course of this paper I will mention a marked

\ instance of the suppression of truth for each of

I the aforesaid reasons, and thus show that even

j medical men are often blinded to the truth by

their prejudices and passions. We of all men
i should be liberal-minded, free from bias and

\: bigotry and incapable of being swayed by polit-

1 ical, commercial, religious or other influences

that tend to obscure or suppress truth.

I have been intending for some time past to

I undertake the task of collecting and arranging

; for publication the records of facts and truths

that I have obtained by personal experience,

I observation and investigation of yellow fever


during more than forty years, together with
everything else of interest and scientific value
that r have obtained from reliable sources which
would help to make a correct history of the dis-
ease. But procrastination has been the bane of
my life^ and I fear I have delayed the work till
it is too late to accomplish it in a manner that
will render it interesting and profitable to the
present and future generations of medical men.
My feeble condition and rapidly failing strength
warn me that but little time is left in which to
work. Would that some younger and more
fitting hand and brain had the task !

In the beginning of my medical - studies a
fascination for the subject of yellow fever took
possession of my mind and I have never been
able to wholly shake it off.- During many weary
years of study I wandered blindly through the
mazy labyrinth of mysteries surrounding it,
seeking light and truth but finding none. At
the point of despair I was led from that state of
uncertainty by a ray of light emanating from a
gem of truth seventy-five years old which reached
my dull brain by penetrating through the preju-
dice and passion that had resisted its entrance
for forty years; and I set to work to bring order
out of the chaos of facts and truths which had
been gathered by myself and others during the
past history of this horrible scourge.

The two greatest barriers to the reception of
truth, prejudice and passion, having been re-


moved, it became easy to accept and understand
the plain solution of the etiological "x" in the
problem stated by Dr. Audouard seventy-five
years before and to see its complete verification
by every event in the subsequent history of
every thing connected with the subject. It was
about this vexed point that some of the fiercest
and most violent controversial storms raged that
ever disturbed the medical mind; while the ques-
tion of its contagion, nature and connection
with malarial fever came in for their share; in
the controversies which, with each recurring
epidemic, were indulged in by the giants of the
profession from the days of the great Benjamin
Rush down to those of Doctors La Roche and
Warren Stone.

Surveying those wordy contests, which were
conducted with so much heat and passion of
argument^ by the light derived from the knowl-
edge of its true origin, shows them to have been
supremely ridiculous; for it reveals the ignorance
of both parties concerning the question under
discussion in which both claimed to be, and
honestly thought they were, exactly right. It
was always a mystery to me why they so stub-
bornly adhered to their respective opinions, for
they were men eminent in the profession who
readily yielded to reason upon other subjects.
The mystery has been cleared up by the n^w
light, the knowledge of which however lay hid-
den for nearly seventy-five years; and in the


course of my discussion of that point it will
readily be shown that both parties were right at
that time, however paradoxical this assertion
now seems. - -

For more than two centuries this unique dis-
ease was an unsolved mystery standing solitary
and alone, as has been said of the great Napo-
leon, ''grand, gloomy and peculiar, wrapped in
the solitude (mystery) of his own originality."
Claiming no land as its birth place (and it never
has originated de novo) it is absolutely and
wholly a filth disease, a specific animal poison
of peculiar filth, born or generated upon the high
seas and under peculiar conditions (which have
ceased to exist), as a result of man's violation
of Nature's immutable laws and the inexorable
fiat of their Author that the violation of one
natural law brings its own punishment by
setting into active operation another law govern-
ing the changed condition. It can truly be said
to be ''the pestilence that walketh in darkness,
the destruction that wasteth at noon day;" and
after years of study and investigation of this
scourge I can come to no other conclusion but
that it is a Nemesis, an agent of retributive
justice in the hands of Him who hath said
"Vengeance is mine, I will repay." But since
the cruel traffic to which it owes its origin has
long since ceased, and the institution of slavery,
of which J. K. Ingram said (Encyclopedia
Britannica — "Slavery"): "It was politically as


well as morally a monstrous aberration, and never
produced anything but evil," has been abolished
by all the nations of the earth, I have believed that
this instrument of punishment would also be re-
moved. After finishing my-work in Memphis in
1819 I predicted that there would never be an-
other serious and widespread epidemic of this
disease in this country; for I had the presump-
tion to think that the South had received its full
meed of punishment for the part it took in that
great sin, that is, if we reckoned in the estimate
the horrors of the four years of civil war as
legitimate results; while the North received its
portion from 1693, the date of its first appear-
ance in this country, down to 1822, since when
its visits to that region have been few and far
between and confined to small areas.

In the following history of yellow fever I hope
to be able to establish as an irrefutable truth
Dr. Audouard's theory of its origin, and thereby
refute and show the littleness of the damaging
epithet of Prof. Hirsch who, in describing it in
his treatise on ** Geographical and Historical
Pathology," characterized it as '*eine der
abenteuerlichsten hypothesis," a Quixotic idea
unworthy of credence. And I think it appro-
priate to remark just here, if I succeed in this
object, that the Royal Medico-Chirurgical So-
ciety of London, in whose library a copy of
Audouard's book lay with uncut leaves for sixty
years, certainly owes it to his memory and to


the medical profession in general to resurrect
and republish his work as a partial reparation
-for their neglect and quasi suppression, for more
than half a century, of a book containing a truth
as grand and useful as any other discovered
during this wonderful nineteenth century.

Before going into the chronological history of
yellow fever, I deem it necessary for a clear
understanding of my design to give my views
and final conclusions in regard to this disease.

1. Yellow fever is not native to any conti-
nent of the old or new world, and never per sc
originated de novo upon any spot of land upon
the globe.

2. Yellow fever is a specific disease peculiar
to itself; and while there are several apparently
analogous diseases, yet it stands separate and
distinct from all others. It is always identical
in every climate where 4t prevails and is not a
grade or type of malaria or other zymotic fevers.

3. Yellow fever is pre-eminently a filth dis-
ease . caused by a specific infection or animal
poison generated from a peculiar fifth and un-
der peculiar conditions, and possessing a germ
capable of transportation and reproduction.

4. Yellow fever is never contagious but is
highly infectious; and its germs, while unlimited
as to quantity, are limited to two stages of exist-
ence in their power of reproduction.

5. When this germ resulting from that spe-
cific poison is introduced into a locality where

L-^4*^X^^v^^^ '

1 /



where the unsanitary conditions and the meteor-
ological stage of the atmosphere are suitable for
its existence and propagation, the second stage
is ushered in by the production of the true
pathogenic microbe of yellow fever in such
quantities and numbers as to fill the atmosphere
of that region as far as the suitable conditions
extend. -

6. When a sufficient portion of this specific
poison once enters the human organism and
produces its characteristic phenomena,its vitality
ceases and it becomes so innocuous that'a healthy
person may drink the blood or be inoculated
with the black vomit or other secretions and
excretions of a fatal case of yellow fever with
impunity, thus verifying the teaching of thou-
sands' of observations and centuries of experi-
ence that personal contagion in this disease is
an impossibility.

7. For the same reason what are known as
h^ibernating germs or microbes, or those which
have failed to find a field in which to propagate
and at the end of the epidemic are so favorably sit-
uated as to have their vitality and virulence pre-
served from destruction by the cold of the suc-
ceeding winter, can only produce sporadic cases
the following season-^-never an epidemic. 1
have witnessed numerous examples, after various
epidemics, which go, to establish this position-
beyond question, besides having the testimony
of reliable physicians to the same effect; in fact


it is plain that if the preceding proposition is
true, this necessarily follows as a natural and
logical sequence.

8. And finally: the peculiar filth which orig-
inally gave rise to the specific infection of yellow
fever was for nearly two centuries deposited in
a number of the^ harbors of our Atlantic sea-
board and in the alluvia of the Mississippi at
New Orleans, and this in quantities sufficient to i

feebly naturalize or render it indigenous to these
localities. But the rushing, rolling, raging 1

billows and the fierce, passionate, pitching, I

plunging tides of the Atlantic have long since ^

washed every trace of it from the mud of every |

American port from Cape Cod to the Cape of j

Florida; while the massive volume of water J

annually rolling down the Mississippi has cleared 1 ;
it out of the port of New Orleans where it has .
been more frequently claimed to be indigenous
than at any other point on our continent; hence
the value of strict and perfect coast-line quaran-
tine. . „




"Felix qui rerum potuit cognoscere causas."— F/rf//.

Perhaps no disease in the annals of medicine
exhibits so many unique and remarkable facts
in pathology or has elicited as many fierce con-
troversies and differences of opinion as has
j yellow fever. These hotly debated controversies

; as to its nature and origin, more especially the

[ latter, have been conducted and engaged in by

I some of the most brilliant medical minds of

( America from the days of Rush, Physick and

[ Currie down to those of Laroche, Dickson,

\ Campbell, Warren Stone and others.

\ Until 1766 there seems to have been no dis-

i .... ...

! agreement m the profession as to its origin,

': - being always regarded as an imported disease;

and by common consent its home was located

exclusively in the West Indies in general, and

I in Havana in particular. But the earliest his-

1 torians of those islands ascribe its origin to the

I East, and for many 5^ars from its first appear-

j ance there it was known as the ''mal de Siam,^'

1 Subsequent history proves those writers to have

i been perfectly correct as to the direction whence

! this terrible scourge came; but they located its


brrth-place too far east, for neither Asia nor
Africa can be truthfully charged directly with
its origin.

In my opinion, formed from a careful study
and review of the whole history of yellow
fever, ther^ could be no more appropriate place
for its original home on this little globe than
the notorious '^middle passage" with all its
attendant atrocious horrors.

The "facts" about which those giants in the
medical profession wrangled and contended so
earnestly during the last quarter of the eighteenth
century are now proven to be errors, at least
most of them; while a few, which were facts in
truth, have ceased to exist from removal of their
cause, thus showing that facts as we see and
comprehend them are not always final truths.
"Truth is immutable and eternal," yet often the
truth (supposed) bf today is the error of
tomorrow. At the proper time I hope fo be
able to make good my promise to show clearly
to every unprejudiced mind that both parties in
those fierce controversies were right at that
time but would not be so now.

Yellow fever in its history has been so inti-
mately connected with the old African slave
trade in its rise and decline, both as to time and
place, not only at the pof ts of debarkation in ,
the Western but also in the ports of the Eastern
Hemisphere where the disease prevailed so vio-
lently whenever one of these vile, filthy ships

i- ■


cast anchor in the harbor on the return trip,
tliat the history of the one necessarily involves
that of the other. This singular but constant
association of the two strangely seems to have
been entirely overlooked by all the early as well
as the later writers upon the disease. Nor has
any one of them, so far as I know, noticed or
made special mention of the decline and disap-
pearance of yellow fever from_ our most impor-
tant northern ports as soon as the legitimate
slave trade was abolished, where it had pre-
vailed frequently and virulently for more thaji a
century after its first appearance in 'Boston in
1693. These places, wherever the disease had
occurred, had also been ports of debarkation for
the slave ships during the long period when the
trade was recognized as legitimate and carried
on principally by England.

For nearly Iwo centuries the fouly iermenting
and putrefying d3^senteric discharges, along with
other filth from the poor negroes which accumu-
lated in the holds and poisoned^ the bilges of
hundreds of slave ships, had been pumped out
to mix with the mud of those harbors. The
quantity of this peculiar filth finally became
sufficient to give rise to yellow fever, thus render-
ing it feebly indigenous and endemic at those
ports till the traffic ceased. When the traffic
was abolished and those ships therefore ceased to
arrive, yellow fever also disappeared from these
ports but could; yet be found associated else-


where with the same traffic which had .-now
fallen into the hands of contrabands. and was
carried on by stealth; and as those contraband'
ships sought ports only where their cargoes
were wanted, the disease accompanied them to
our southern ports, the gulf ports of Mexico and
the South Atlantic ports of Brazil.

This plain and indisputable historical fact
seems to have attracted but little notice and
elicited but little comment in the past from
the historians of yellow fever. This oversight
emphasizes my first statement that sucji facts
are seldom recognized and understood at the
time of their occurrence; and sufficient time must
elapse for the passions and prejudices against
them to subside and pass away before they can
be looked at in the right light and established
as truths. But the greatest oversight of all was
in regard to the fearful epidemics which ravaged
the ports of Spain during the first quarter of this
century, causing the death of over one hundred
and forty thoiisand persons in the one year of
1804. So, in my opinion, any period prior to
the great epidemics of 1878-79 which occurred
in the Mississippi Valley from New Orleans to
Memphis was too early in which to write the
correct history of yellow fever, a disease which
I confidently believe to be now making the final
chapter in its history.

The first authentic appearance of yellow fever
was in 1647, shortly after the first arrivals of


slave ships in the West Indies, a terrible
epidemic occurring at Bridgetown, Barbadoes,'
an English possession and settlement. It was
spoken of at that time as "a. new disease" and
as '*ari absolute plague, very infectious and
destructive." But the Jesuit narratives of the
period of Columbus describe a similar fever of a
malignant type, attended with yellowness of
skin and very fatal to the newly arrived Euro-
peans, prevailing epidemically in St. Domingo
and other islands in 1494, 1514, 1568, and in
Central America in 1596, and among the Indians
of New England in 1618. Some writers on the
subject claim these epidemics to have been
genuine yellow fever; but there being no account

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Online LibraryW. L. (William Ludlow) ColemanA history of yellow fever : indisputable facts pertaining to its origin and cause ..., with an addendum on its twin sister Dengue, containing a parallel table of the most prominent symptoms of each di → online text (page 1 of 9)