Thomas Jefferson Papers
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Thomas Jefferson to John L. E. W. Shecut, 29 December 1817

To John L. E. W. Shecut

Monticello Dec. 29. 17.

Th: Jefferson returns thanks to Dr Shecut for the [pa]mphlet on Yellow fever which he has been so kind as to send him. he remarks with satisfaction the distinction observed between the fever which has always existed in [ce]rtain situations of our country & has been known by the name of the Strangers’ fever, because affecting them alone, and that known latterly by the name of the Yellow fever, as attacking natives & strangers equally. he believes also that the example set by Dr Shecut of sheathing the lancet and rejecting the dangerous use of mercury will be propitious to the population of the US.   He is peculiarly sensible of the kind expressions of Dr Shecut towards himself personally, reciprocates them with cordiality and salutes him with high respect and esteem.

PoC (DLC); on verso of reused address cover of William Munford to TJ, 6 Oct. 1817; two words faint; dateline at foot of text; endorsed by TJ.

Shecut argued that the common bilious fever endemic in South Carolina (popularly called strangers’ fever) originated from the putrefaction of vegetable matter in local marshes and was much less virulent than yellow fever, which arose from the combination of putrid animal matter with the decayed vegetation. Local inhabitants had developed some resistance to the common bilious fever and, compared with outsiders, exhibited considerably milder symptoms. Both natives & strangers were susceptible to yellow fever, but the disease was particularly serious in young children and new arrivals not yet acclimated to local conditions (Shecut, An Essay on the Prevailing, or Yellow-Fever, of 1817 … [Charleston, 1817; Poor, Jefferson’s Library description begins Nathaniel P. Poor, Catalogue. President Jefferson’s Library, 1829 description ends , 5 (no. 199)]; Monthly Anthology and Boston Review 5 [1808]: 561).

Index Entries

  • An Essay on the Prevailing, or Yellow-Fever, of 1817 (Shecut) search
  • Charleston, S.C.; and yellow fever search
  • health; fever search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; receives works search
  • medicine; lancing search
  • medicine; mercury search
  • mercury; as medicine search
  • Shecut, John Linnaeus Edward Whitridge; An Essay on the Prevailing, or Yellow-Fever, of 1817 search
  • Shecut, John Linnaeus Edward Whitridge; letters to search
  • yellow fever; in Charleston, S.C. search
  • yellow fever; TJ on search