During a 1793 outbreak of yellow fever in Philadelphia 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents died making it the worst epidemic in American history, with a death rate of 10%. As disease spread, the national government was slow to react but citizens soon donned protective masks and the authorities ordered quarantines. The streets emptied. Doubters questioned the science and disobeyed. [Read more…] about America’s First Plague: The Deadly 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic
The first direct shipment of enslaved Africans arrived in New Amsterdam (now New York City) in 1655. The voyage of the White Horse came in the wake of significant changes in the Dutch Atlantic. In this eessay, American historian Dennis Maika outlines how family and business connections shaped the development of a slave-trading center in Manhattan.
New Amsterdam’s residents would have immediately noticed something different about the arrival of the Witte Paert (White Horse) in the early summer of 1655. The stench of human excrement and illness emanating from the newly arrived “scheepgen” (small ship), left little doubt that a slaver had arrived after a long voyage. [Read more…] about The First Slave Traders in New York
William Shirley was the Royal Governor of Massachusetts, appointed by the King of England. Shirley had been a British official in England serving on negotiating committees with French officials determining boundaries. This had led Shirley to a thorough dislike of the French.
He was very aggressive and had been a stalwart advocate of invading Canada and driving the French out of North America. Shirley had written a strong criticism of the New York Congress for its resistance to an invasion of Canada in 1748. He was upset when New Jersey and Rhode Island refused to cooperate in the invasion because they were not threatened. [Read more…] about The Albany Congress of 1754: Native People, Colonists & the Monarchy
Christian Koot is a Professor of History at Towson University and the author of A Biography of a Map in Motion: Augustine Herrman’s Chesapeake (NYU Press, 2017). Christian has researched and written two books about the seventeenth-century Anglo-Dutch World go better understand empires and how they are made. He joins us in this episode of Ben Franklin’s World to take us through his research and to share what one specific map, Augustine Herrman’s 1673 map Virginia and Maryland, reveals about empire and empire making. [Read more…] about Mapping Empire in the Chesapeake
What can the everyday life of an enslaved person tell us about slavery, how it was practiced, and how some enslaved people made the transition from slavery to freedom?
In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History we explore the life of Charity Folks, an enslaved woman from Maryland who gained her freedom in the late-18th century.