Narrative of Yellow Fever, 1793

Creator: The Reverend Richard Allen

Context: Allen wrote this essay in the aftermath of the largest yellow fever epidemic in U.S. history, during the summer of 1793 in Philadelphia. He was writing in response to criticisms of the African-American community who stayed to nurse the sick and dying while many wealthy whites fled the city.

Audience: The citizens of Philadelphia.

Purpose: To respond to criticisms that African-American nurses charged too high a price for tending to the ill during the epidemic.

Historical Significance: This excerpt reveals the extraordinary efforts of African Americans in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic. It also provides an example of the racial conflicts that arose in Northern society as well as Southern society in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War.