I really wish effect to the hints in my letter to you for so laying off the additions to the city of N.O. as to shield it from Yellow fever. my confidence in the idea is founded in the acknoleged experience that we have never seen the genuine Yellow fever extend itself into the country, nor even to the outskirts or open parts of a close built city. in the plan I propose every square would be surrounded, on every side, by open & pure air, & would in fact be a separate town with fields, or open suburbs around it.
Thomas Jefferson to William C. C. Claiborne, May 3, 1810
In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about diseases that ravaged the nation in Thomas Jefferson’s time.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Retired leaders continue to cheerlead from the sidelines.
Claiborne (c. 1773/75 – 1817), a Virginia born lawyer transplanted to Tennessee, served in Congress from 1797 to 1801. In 1803, he was appointed by Jefferson to be governor of the Territory of Orleans, a position he held until 1812.
Jefferson, now finally (and gratefully!) retired from public office, continued to lobby for more green space in New Orlean’s development, to combat the diseases which afflicted densely populated areas. Multiple earlier letters in this series detailed his “checkerboard” plan for urban design.
Claiborne succeeded Andrew Jackson as Tennessee’s Congressman. He was the youngest person ever elected to that body, and most sources indicate he was not yet 25 years of age, as required by the Constitution.