July 9, 2012 · By William J. Federer · 0 Comments
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American Minute from William J. Federer
In India, a religious practice for some people was to bathe in the sewage-filled Ganges River. As a result, some would contract a water-born disease called cholera.
The British Empire was the largest empire in world history, controlling over 13 million square miles and ruling over a half billion people.
When the British East India Company gained control of India in the early 1800’s, they built railroads and sent steamboats up the rivers, Unfortunately, individuals infected with cholera were able to quickly travel back to Europe, carrying the disease of cholera with them.
It killed tens of millions in crowded cities in England, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Hungary, China, Japan, Java, Korea, the Philippines, India, Bengal, Iran, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Arabia, and Africa.
In Russia alone, cholera killed over one million people. Even the famous composer, Tchaikovsky, died from cholera.
Spreading through unsanitary water, infected immigrants carried cholera to America, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, and the Pacific Coast.
In 1832, as the Asiatic Cholera outbreak gripped New York, Henry Clay asked for a Joint Resolution of Congress to request the President set:
“A Day of Public Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity.”
By 1849, cholera killed 5,000 in New York, with a mass grave on Randall’s Island in the East River; 8,000 killed in Cincinnati; and 3,000 killed in New Orleans.
Spreading up the Mississippi, 5,000 were killed in St. Louis, about 6% of the city’s population, including Pierre Chouteau, Sr., one of the St. Louis’ prominent early settlers.
In Chicago, 3,500 died. Harriett Beecher Stowe’s infant son and former 11th U.S. President James K. Polk succumbed to it.
Ohio had to postpone its first Ohio State Fair. Cholera spread along the Oregon Trail to the Pacific Northwest and the Mormon Trail to Utah.
It killed an estimated 12,000 on their way to the California Gold Rush. In total, an estimated 150,000 American died from cholera.
The President at the time was General Zachary Taylor, known as “Old Rough and Ready” for fighting the British in the War of 1812, the Sac Indians in the Black Hawk War and the Seminole Indians in Florida. Taylor’s victories in the Mexican War, being greatly outnumbered by Santa Anna’s forces, made him a national hero.
Elected the 12th U.S. President, Zachary Taylor refused to be sworn in on the Sabbath out of respect. President Zachary Taylor was presented with a Bible by a delegation of ladies from Frankfort, KY. His acknowledgment was printed in the Frankfort Commonwealth, February 21, 1849:
“I accept with gratitude…your gift of this inestimable Volume. It was for the love of the truths of this great Book that our fathers abandoned their native shores for the wilderness.
“Animated by its lofty principles they toiled and suffered till the desert blossomed as a rose. The same truths sustained them…to become a free nation; and guided by the wisdom of this Book they founded a government.”
On July 4, 1849, President Taylor told a Sabbath-School celebration in Washington: “The only ground of hope for the continuance of our free institutions is in the proper moral and religious training of the children.”
On July 3, 1849, President Zachary Taylor proclaimed a National Day of Fasting:
“At a season when the providence of God has manifested itself in the visitation of a fearful pestilence which is spreading itself throughout the land, it is fitting that a people whose reliance has ever been in His protection should humble themselves before His throne, and, while acknowledging past transgressions, ask a continuance of the Divine mercy.
“It is therefore earnestly recommended that the first Friday in August be observed throughout the United States as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer…
“It is recommended to persons of all religious denominations to abstain as far as practical from secular occupations and to assemble in their respective places of public worship, to acknowledge the Infinite Goodness which has watched over our existence as a nation, and so long crowned us with manifold blessings, and to implore the Almighty in His own good time to stay the destroying hand which is now lifted up against us.”
New Jersey Governor Daniel Haines’s proclamation was published in the Paterson Intelligencer, August 1, 1849:
“Whereas the President of the United States, inconsideration of the prevailing pestilence, has set…a Day of Fasting…
“and whereas I believe that the people of this State recognize the obligations of a Christian nation publicly to acknowledge their dependence upon Almighty God…
“that abstaining from their worldly pursuits, they assemble…with humble confession of sin…and fervently…implore the Almighty Ruler of the Universe, to remove us from the scourge…and speedily…restore to us the inestimable blessing of health.”
Mayor John Howard of Dayton, Ohio, proclaimed a Day of Fasting, ordered all stores to close, and hundreds knelt openly in the streets and prayed.
Tim O’Neil wrote “A Look Back-Cholera Epidemic Hit a Peak Here in 1849” (STLToday.com):
“Cholera first reached St. Louis from Europe in 1832, killing 300, and returned in each of the next three summers…St. Louis was a fast-growing city of 75,000, with immigrants arriving by the steamboat-load. It also had no sewer system…
“More than 120 died of cholera in April 1849…The toll grew six-fold in May…reached 2,200 in July…in late July with a weekly toll of 640, seven times the city’s normal death rate…
“The worst death rates were in the slums on the north and south ends of present-day downtown, where bodies were buried in ditches…Cholera also killed Pierre Chouteau Sr., a member of the founding family…Cholera killed at least 6 percent of the city’s population…The official death toll was 4,317…The number of deaths dropped suddenly in August.”
President Taylor’s Proclamation of Fasting was observed August 3, 1849, and by the end of the month, the death toll “dropped suddenly.”
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