Typhus and American Prisoners in the War of Independence

By Philip Ranlet, published November 2010


This article reconsiders and re-examines typhus, the prominent pathological killer in the eighteenth century. It primarily concentrates on the causes, nature and effects of the disease in question in relation to the Atlantic world of the late eighteenth century. The case study on which the article is focused is that of the American prisoners during the War of Independence (1776-1783). The arguments of both contemporary scholars and infamous philanthropists are given in order to challenge antecedent scholarly work and justify the overriding argument which encompasses the hypothesis that to reduce the outbreak of typhus epidemics, one must ameliorate and improve the surrounding environmental conditions.

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Filed under: Atlantic | American Revolution | Health at Sea
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea | Navies | Pirates, Corsairs & Privateers

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