Slavery, Disease, and Suffering in the Southern Lowcountry

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On the eve of the Revolution, the Carolina lowcountry was the wealthiest and unhealthiest region in British North America. Slavery, Disease, and Suffering in the Southern Lowcountry argues that the two were intimately connected: both resulted largely from the dominance of rice cultivation on plantations using imported African slave labor. This development began in the coastal lands near Charleston, South Carolina, around the end of the seventeenth century. Rice plantations spread north to the Cape Fear region of North Carolina and south to Georgia and northeast Florida in the late colonial period. The book examines perceptions and realities of the lowcountry disease environment; how the lowcountry became notorious for its “tropical” fevers, notably malaria and yellow fever; how people combated, avoided, or perversely denied the suffering they caused; and how diseases and human responses to them influenced not only the lowcountry and the South, but the United States, even helping to secure American independence.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A compelling and meticulously researched account … McCandless has made exceptional use of a wide variety of primary materials, including letters, personal papers, diaries, official documents, parish records, pamphlets, and newspapers, to reconstruct the impact of tropical diseases in the lowcountry … This is a valuable and provocative study and will appeal to those interested in southern history as well as the history of medicine."
Shauna Devine, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

"… until now, few authors have been able to intertwine the economic, medical, and environmental threads so successfully. One recent exception who managed to set the bar high is William Dusinberre, author of … Them Dark Days: Slavery in the American Rice Swamps … McCandless has cleared that same bar with apparent ease. We can only hope that their impressive works inspire more such compelling interdisciplinary studies, for the Lowcountry and beyond."
Peter H. Wood, Southern Spaces

"… a valuable book for anyone interested in the history of health in the American South."
Bradford J. Wood, Journal of Southern History

"McCandless makes a significant contribution to the scholarship on lowcountry slavery and disease by connecting variable contemporary medical theories with political and cultural concerns that shifted from year to year."
Jeffrey Robert Young, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"McCandless offers insight into the shifting understanding of early American medicine, how it is shaped by geography, economics, and demographics specific to an area."
Lindsay Rae Smith, Southern Historian

"… offers thought-provoking insights …"
Karen Cook Bell, Journal of American History

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter McCandless received his Ph.D. in Modern British and African History from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 and joined the history faculty of the College of Charleston that year. He received the college's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1985 and was named a Governor's Distinguished Professor in 1998. He is the author of Moonlight, Magnolias, and Madness: Insanity in South Carolina from the Colonial to the Progressive Eras (1996) and numerous journal articles.
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Table of Contents

Part I. Talk about Suffering: 1. Rhetoric and reality; 2. From paradise to hospital; 3. 'A scene of diseases'; 4. Wooden horse; 5. Revolutionary fever; 6. Stranger's disease; 7. 'A merciful provision of the creator'; Part II. Combating Pestilence: 8. 'I wish that I had studied physick'; 9. 'I know nothing of this disease'; 10. Providence, prudence, and patience; 11. Buying the smallpox; 12. Commerce, contagion, and cleanliness; 13. A migratory species; 14. Melancholy.
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