James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Peter Kuhn, Jr., 29 April 1806

Genoa 29th. April 1806.


I have the honor to confirm my last respects of the 25th: Ulto: as per Copy inclosed, the original whereof via Leghorn accompanied with a Copy of the different Bulletins published here from the commencement of the late hostilities on the Continent until the Treaty of Presburg, also some remarks on the Yellow Fever by Doctor Batt the English physician here, given out by him at the time that terrible disease was raging at Leghorn in 1804.

In my late travels in France, I have been made acquainted with a certain method to prevent and repell contagious and epidemical diseases, which in general is used throughout that Country, in the Hospitals, Prisons, or Chambers subject to foul air by an apparatus venting a sufficient quality of a particular Gas as published by Monr. Guitan Morveau for the disinfection of air.

Finding upon my return the instructions you have been pleased to give by Circular Letters to the Consuls of the United States relative to contagious diseases &ca. doubting wether the Consul at Paris was acquainted with the Apparatus and work of Mr Morveau, and being moreover fully convinced of the efficacy of the remedy and of the great utility that may result from the knowledge thereof to those Citizens of the United States who unfortunately may find themselves in infected places, I have sent to Paris for two of the Appareils; one permanent, and the other portatif as also for two copies of a work intitled "le Traité de Mons. G. Morveau sur les moyens de desinficter l’air." I am advised they are actually upon their way here, and as soon as they arrive I shall send them to the United States to the care of Mr Peter ⟨Pichon⟩ Philadelphia with instructions to forward to you Sir the large one with one of the books, which on reception I beg you will have the goodness to present in my name to his Excellency the President. The small one with a Book will be given to Doctr. Caspar Wister of Philadelphia.

It may not be amiss to inform you Sir that the French Governmen⟨t⟩ recommended the use of one hundred of said appareils at Malaga during the rage of the last Epidemic there and many persons well informed attribute the cause of its speedy extinction to the efficacy of said precaution. Doctor Ferrari a celebrated Genoan Professor of ⟨Phisic⟩, who was sent by the Ligurian Government to Leghorn to examine in that City the course of the yellow fever in the fall of 180⟨4⟩, informs me that he made use of this remedy with the greatest success, and found it the only real one to be confided in. Doctr. Batt likewise made use thereof to great advantage during the epidemical complaint that raged at this place during the late distressing Siege. I shall further remark an instance within my knowledge lately occurred. A violent contagious fever broke out in a Prison of Austrian Soldiers in France which carried off daily from fifteen to two and twenty persons; the disease had even made its way into the Village, the use of the Appareils was ordered, and the prison as well as the Village was in a few days restored to health. I hope Sir the importance of the Subject is a sufficient app⟨o⟩logy for my trespassing thus on your valuable time and I have the honor to be very respectfully, Sir, Your most Obbedient and very humble Servant

Peter Kuhn Junr:

DNA: RG 59—CD—Consular Despatches, Genoa.

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