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This history of the yellow fever, and record of the epidemic of 1878, in Memphis, had its origin in the wish expressed by a large number of intelligent citizens, at home and abroad, who desired that the origin, progress, and results of the recent epidemic, especially, might be rescued from the evanescent columns of the daily press, and put in an enduring form — a monument testifying to the sufferings of the people of Memphis, the unparalleled losses of life, to the humanity and overflowing charity of their fellow-countrymen of all the States, and the people of many of the nations of Europe; and, above all, to the heroism of the women and the men who illustrated, as physicians and nurses, with a sublime self-abnegation, the first and chiefest of Christian virtues.
All the known and well authenticated sources of information have been freely availed of, and it is believed that nothing has been omitted that could increase the value of the book as a history of the yellow fever and complete record of the epidemic of 1878, from the occurrence of the first to the date of the last known case.
The author has, it will be seen, confined himself to facts, and has not indulged, as he could wish, and they deserve, in extended panegyrics of those who so nobly perished at the post of duty, or of those who, doing their duty, survived the ordeal of death. Want of space forbade. The nature of their employment will sufficiently speak the added danger, if any, encountered by each, whether Howard or citizen; and the official station they filled will mark those for special remembrance by the world, who, by their courage, zeal, and efficiency, were the life and inspiration of the comparative few who performed
what, to them, was a sacred duty.
All cause of jealousy, complaint, or offense has been studiously avoided, while nothing has been omitted that was deemed essential to the "truth of history." The time allowed for the work has been brief, but it is hoped it will be found worthy alike of the living and the dead; a record of duty done, a history of those who have passed away, leaving us a lesson of gentle ministrations, of heroic warfare, of strained endurance, of patient resignation, of cool, calm courage, and of Christian fortitude.
The epidemic of 1878, when the numbers exposed, the numbers who sickened, and those who died, are taken into account, must be set down as one of the greatest calamities of modern times, marking an epoch in our history and expressing a period memorable for all time.
Trusting that the lesson it teaches will not be lost upon those whom it most immediately concerns, the author commits his work to the considerate judgment of his readers, praying their indulgence for such demerits as to them may appear.
Memphis, May, 1879.