James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Benjamin Rush, 23 June 1801

From Benjamin Rush

Philadelphia June 23rd. 1801

Dear Sir,

Permit me to revive a friendship, Once very dear to me, by addressing you upon a Subject highly interesting to the United States.

The Commerce of our Country has suffered greatly by our Absurd Quarantine laws in the different States. These laws which admit the contagious nature of Our american yellow fever, have produced a reaction in the Governments of Europe which has rendered our Commerce with the Cities of Europe extremely expensive and oppressive.

The evils complained of Abroad, can only be remedied, by removing them at home, and this can only be done by convincing our citizens that our fever is not contagious, & that it is always of domestic Origin. The Arguments in favor of these Opinions you will find in the enclosed pamphflets.1

The benefits to commerce, & to national population, and prosperity, which the Abolition of Quarantine laws, and a regard to cleanliness in our Cities would produce, are beyond Calculation.

Posterity will be grateful to that Government which shall take the lead in this important business. Hitherto Science has been scouted from the Cabinets of the Rulers of the World. It bears the hateful name of philosophy. But we look for more correct associations of things under the present Administration.

I enclose you a letter from Mr: Webster2 upon the Subject of mine. He deserved well of humanity and of his country for his labors in exposing the disgraceful ideas to human reason, which have prevailed, time immemorial, upon pestilential diseases.3

Accept of my best wishes for your health, and believe me to be with great regard your sincere Old friend

Benjn: Rush

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