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Scripto | Transcribe Page
Proceedings of the National Conference of Colored Men of the United States, Held in the State Capitol at Nashville Tennessee, May 6, 7, 8 and 9, 1879.
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SANITARY CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
There can be no subject so important to the colored people of this country as the condition of their health, because it makes very little difference what rights, either civil or political, that may be accorded to them, or what wealth they may accumulate, unless they enjoy health they will be of very little consequence to them. For they, too, must follow the destiny of all other races of mankind, and become extinct from the ravages of disease and a premature death. And this is true, not only of the colored race, but of all others. Take, for example, the fearful epidemics of the yellow fever that have swept over some portions of our Southern country, and we see that they have left death and desolation in their tracks, and those States that suffered most have become in some parts almost depopulated. Doctors and sanitarians have been taxed to their uttermost to apply means of cure; and sanitary measures, such as disinfectants, quarantine and isolation to stamp out the disease and prevent its recurrence. In fact the most extreme measures have been taken, especially in the epidemic of the past year, such as placing armed men on the line of infected districts or cities, with instructions to shoot down any person who might dare to pass to other parts. Not only has this been done in yellow fever, but also in small-pox , diphtheria, cholera, and the plague, or black fever, as it is sometimes called. This disease has recently visited Russia in an epidemic form, and in order to put a stop to its ravages, as it is said that about 90 per cent. die, the chief medical officer to the Emperor recommended the most energetic means, by which whole towns have been burnt to the ground, with the clothing of those that had been infected with the disease. His advice has been followed very closely, and the result so far has been very beneficial.
From the earliest ages of the world to the present, disease has threatened the destruction of portions of the human family. For we read in Holy Writ how the Egyptians were seized with a grievous plague which threatened their destruction, because they refused to let the children of Israel go; and also that the children of Israel themselves were threatened with annihilation during their journeyings, and in one instance 24,000 were slain in one day. In later days the cholera, diphtheria and yellow fever have made fearful inroads into the population of the world. In fact no large bodies of people can exist together any great length of time without being decimated, unless disease is guarded against in the most scrupulous manner. And especially is this the case with regard to large armies; and it has been found that more soldiers die of disease than are killed by the severest battle. This was true in the case of the late war of the rebellion, and although a great many men were killed belonging to McClellans's army in the battles near Richmond, more were lost in the
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