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Feverish Bodies, Enlightened MindsScience and the Yellow Fever Controversy in the Early American Republic$
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Thomas Apel

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780804797405

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804797405.001.0001

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“Let Not God Intervene”

“Let Not God Intervene”

(p.94) Four “Let Not God Intervene”
Feverish Bodies, Enlightened Minds

Thomas A. Apel

Stanford University Press

Chapter Four considers the natural theology of yellow fever. Convinced that yellow fever appeared as a punishment for sins and that the disease arose from natural processes, the investigators sought to interpret the purpose of yellow fever from the evidence of design. The localists found an elegant compromise. By negligently and carelessly allowing filth to accumulate, they argued, city-dwellers of afflicted cities violated both scriptural and common-sense prohibitions against uncleanliness, setting in motion a chain of events that naturally produced yellow fever. Localists embarked on a vigorous public health campaign, through which they stressed the duties of all Americans, as citizens of the republic and subjects of God, to abide by sanitary regulations. Considering the natural theology of yellow fever, however, reinforced republican fears of cities and further disillusioned early republicans about the direction of the American nation.

Keywords:   natural theology, divine intervention, republicanism, public health, sanitation, urban history, commerce

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