An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 Short Essay - Answer Key

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Short Essay Questions Key

1. Why were there an amazing number of flies and other insects in August 1793?

The summer had been unusually hot and the swamps, marshes, and rivers lost a lot of water. As the water receded, dead fish and gooey vegetable matter were exposed and began to rot attracting insects. Also, cats were dropping dead in Philadelphia which also attracted insects.

2. Describe the sewer system in Philadelphia.

The sewers in Philadelphia were deep holes that were dug at various street corners to collect runoff water and anything else that was washed along. The sewers were uncovered and did not have pipes to channel water away from buildings.

3. Why was there a stench originating from Ball's Wharf?

The sloop Amelia had anchored with a cargo of coffee, which had spoiled during the voyage. The bad coffee was dumped on Ball's Wharf. There the coffee putrefied in the sun and sent a nasty odor that could be smelled over a quarter mile away.

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