New Orleans to Glascow, Scotland. Envelope or Cover.
This three-page stampless cross-hatched letter measures 15½” x 10” unfolded. It was sent by J N McLauren, Jr. on 15 June 1833 from New Orleans to the Dalmuir Paper Warehouse near Glasgow, Scotland. It bears a circular New Orleans postmark, crossed-out address, and “50” rate mark indicating that it was sent to New York City where a forwarding agent (MacGregor & Darling) ensured it was carried privately to England where it received a “Liverpool / Ship Letter” transit stamp, rectangular ½d Scottish road tax handstamp and Glasgow receiving mark. In nice shape.
In this letter, McLauren describes the horrific New Orleans Cholera epidemic of 1832-1833.
“That scourge of the human race, accursed Cholera, visited us two days after said interview and on the third or fourth day of its appearance it seized upon my poor friend Archibald Granton. . .. From the moment it seized him I never left his bedside, nor even sat down a minute for the 56 hours, at the expiry of which term he died. . .. He was unnaturally weakly in constitution, and the disease is so virulent and fatal this time that I do not know of a single recovery of any that have been seized. . .. My landlady came to my bedside and informed me that my dear little favourite, (Miss Mary Prendergast, her daughter), had all the symptoms of Cholera and that she would not allow anyone to come near her but myself. . .. When I went to her room I could see at once that there was no time to be lost. I sent downstairs for a Physician . . . but he could do nothing, [so] I sent for two other Physicians. They gave me all praise for what I had done and could not recommend anything but what I was using. . .. Our Doctor got sick after . . . 2 Hours and died within 7 minutes of Mary. Mary’s brother was seized too and is still alive, but no hopes are entertained of his recovery. Two of the Black servants were also taken the same night. . .. There have been more than 15,000 people left the city in the last two weeks, and now the cholera abates for want of victims. . ..”. Very good. Item #010196
Cholera is an acute diarrheal illness caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria. People get sick when they swallow contaminate food or water. In 1829, cholera first spread across the world from the Ganges delta in India. Six subsequent pandemics have killed millions throughout the world. Today, cholera is treated by rehydration and antibiotics and is seldom fatal. In the 19th century, it was almost a certain death sentence.
The epidemic reached New Orleans in 1832 and continued well into 1833. It returned in 1848–1855, 1866, and 1873 causing tens of thousands of deaths throughout Louisiana with more than 17,000 deaths in New Orleans alone.
(For more information, see Niedenbach’s “Cholera in Louisiana” at the 64 Parishes website, “Cholera – Vibrio cholerae infection” at the CDC website, and “Cholera” at the World Health Organization website.)
Very scarce. At the time of listing, no first-hand descriptions of the 1832-1833 New Orleans cholera epidemic are for sale in the trade. The Rare Book Hub shows none have ever been sold at auction. OCLC reports that four are held by institutions..