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These two experiments, that in which some combustible substance (branches and leaves of trees) had been decomposed by water, in the mud; and this, where the decomposition had been produced by fire, without blazing, shows that a species of air, injurious to life, when taken into the lungs, may be generated from substances, which, in themselves, are harmless.
It is by means similar to these, that charcoal, which is made by fire without blazing, emits a vapor destructive to life. I now come to apply these cases, and the reasoning deduced therefrom, to account for the cause of the Yellow Fever.*
First:-The Yellow Fever is not a disorder produced by the climate naturally, or it would always have been here in the hot months; the climate is the same now, as it was fifty or a hundred years ago; there was no Yellow Fever then, and it is only within the last twelve years, that such a disorder has been known to America.
Secondly:-The low grounds on the shores of the rivers, at the cities, where the Yellow Fever is annually generated, and continues about three months without spreading, were not subject to that disorder in their natural state, or the Indians would have forsaken them; whereas, they were the parts most frequented by the Indians in all seasons of the year, on account of fishing. The result from these cases is, that the Yellow Fever is produced by some new circumstance not common to the country in its natural state, and the question is, what is that new circumstance?
It may be said, that every thing done by the white people, since their settlement in the country, such as building towns, clearing lands, levelling hills, and filling vallies, is a new circumstance, but the Yellow Fever does not accompany any of these new circumstances. No alteration made on the dry land produces the Yellow Fever, we must therefore look to some other new circumstance, and we now come to those that have taken place between wet and dry, between land and water.
The shores of the rivers at New York, and also at Philadelphia, have on account of the vast increase of commerce, and for the sake of making wharves, undergone great and rapid alterations from their natural state, within a few years; and it is only in such parts of the shores where those alterations have taken place that the
The author does not mean to infer that the inflammable air, or carburetted hydrogen gas, is the cause of the Yellow Fever; but that perhaps it enters into some combination with miasm generated in low grounds, which produces the disease
Yellow Fever has been produced. The parts where little or no alteration has been made, either on the East or North River, and which continue in their natural state, or nearly so, do not produce the Yellow Fever-the fact therefore points to the cause.
Besides several new streets gained from the river by embankment, there are upwards of eighty new wharfs made since the war, and the much greater part within the last ten or twelve years; the consequence of which has been, that great quantities of filth or combustible matter deposited in the muddy bottom of the river contiguous to the shore, and which produced no ill effect while exposed to the air, and washed twice every twenty-four hours by the tide water, have been covered over several feet deep with new earth, and pent up, and the tide excluded. It is in these places, and in these only, that the Yellow Fever is produced.
Having thus shown, from the circumstances of the case, that the cause of the Yellow Fever is in the place where it makes its appearance, or rather, in the pernicious vapor issuing therefrom, I go to show a method of constructing wharfs, where wharfs are yet to be constructed, as on the shore on the East River, at Corlder's Hook, and also on the North River, that will not occasion the Yellow Fever, and which may also point out a method of removing it from places already infected with it. Instead, then, of embanking out the river and raising solid wharfs of earth on the mud bottom of the shore, the better method would be to construct wharfs on arches, built of stone; the tide will then flow in under the arch, by which means the shore, and the muddy bottom, will be washed and kept clean, as if they were in their natural state without wharfs.
When wharfs are constructed on the shore lengthways, that is without cutting the shore up into slips, arches can easily be turned, because arches joining each other lengthways, serve as butments to each other, but when the shore is cut up into slips there can be no butments; in this case wharfs can be formed on stone pillars, or wooden piles planked over on the top. In either of these cases, the space underneath will be commodious shelter or harbor for small boats, which can come in and go out always, except at low water, and be secure from storms and injuries. This method, besides preventing the cause of the Yellow Fever, which I think it will, will render the wharfs more productive than the present method, because of the space preserved within the wharf.
I offer no calculation of the expense of constructing wharfs on
arches or piles; but on a general view, I believe they will not be so expensive as the present method. A very great part of the expense of making solid wharfs of earth, is occasioned by the carriage of materials, which will be greatly reduced by the methods here proposed, and still more so were the arches to be constructed of cast iron blocks. I suppose that one ton of cast iron blocks would go as far in the construction of an arch, as twenty tons of
lf, by constructing wharfs in such a manner, that the tide water can wash the shore and bottom of the river contiguous to the shore, as they are washed in their natural condition, the Yellow Fever can be prevented from generating in places where wharfs are yet to be constructed, it may point out a method of removing it, at least by degrees, from places already infected with it, which will be, by opening the wharfs in two or three places in each, and letting the tide water pass through; the parts opened can be planked over, so as not to prevent the use of the wharf.
In taking up and treating this suhject, I have considered it as belonging to natural philosophy, rather than medicinal art; and therefore I say nothing about the treatment of the disease, after it takes place; I leave that part to those whose profession it is to study it. THOMAS PAINE.
New York, June 27, 1806.
TO A FRIEND.
New Rochelle, July 9, 1804.
As the weather is now getting hot in New York, and the people begin to get out of town, you may as well come up here and help me to settle my accounts with the man who lives on the place. You will be able to do this better than I shall, and in the mean time I can go on with my literary works, without having my mind taken off by affairs of a different kind. I have received a packet from Governor Clinton, enclosing what I wrote for. If you come up by the stage, you will stop at the post office, and they will direct you the way to the farm. It is only a pleasant walk. I send a piece for the Prospect; if the plan mentioned in it is pursued, it will open a way to enlarge and give establishment to the deistical church; but of this and some other things, we will talk when you come up, and the sooner the better.
Yours in friendship,
I have not received any newspapers, nor any numbers of the Prospect, since I have been here.
Bring my bag up with you.
ADDRESS AND DECLARATION.
At a select Meeting of the Friends of Universal Peace and Liberty, held at the Thatched House Tavern, St. James's Street, August 20, 1791, the following Address and Declaration to our Fellow Citizens was agreed on and ordered to be published.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS,
Ar a moment like the present, when wilful misrepresentations are industriously spread by the partizans of arbitrary power, and the advocates of passive obedience and court government, we think it incumbent on us to declare to the world our principles, and the motives of our conduct.
We rejoice at the glorious event of the French Revolution.
We answer, (as it has been already answered in another place,*) It is much to us as men: much to us as Englishmen.
As men we rejoice in the freedom of twenty-five millions of our fellow men. We rejoice in the prospect which such a magnificent example opens to the world. We congratulate the French nation for having laid the axe to the root of tyranny, and for erecting government on the sacred hereditary rights of man-Rights which appertain to ALL, and not to any one more than to another. We know of no human authority superior to that of a whole nation; and we profess and proclaim it as our principle that every nation has at all times an inherent indefeasible right to constitute and establish such government for itself as best accords with its disposition, interest, and happiness.
As Englishmen we also rejoice, because we are immediately interested in the French Revolution.
Without enquiring into the justice on either side of the reproachful charges of intrigue and ambition, which the English and French Courts have constantly made on each other, we confine ourselves to this observation:-That if the Court of France only was in
*Declaration of the Volunteers of Belfast.