Tag Archives: Working remotely
The President [Washington] sets out the day after tomorrow for Mount Vernon, and will be back about the last of the month. Within 4 or 5. days or a week after his return I can set out. The yellow fever, of which I wrote Mr. Randolph [Martha’s husband] last week still encreases. The last week about twice as many have died as did the week before. I imagine there are between 3. and 400. persons ill of it. I propose after the President’s departure to remove my office into the country so as to have no further occasion to go into the town.
Thomas Jefferson to Martha Jefferson Randolph, September 8, 1793
In the face of coronavirus, I’m excerpting correspondence about the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, the nation’s capital at the time, which killed 5,000 of the city’s 50,000 residents.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Leaders can still lead from a (short) distance away.
Jefferson reported to his daughter that the epidemic was getting worse.
An earlier post referenced Jefferson’s decision to remain in the nation’s capital, because all the other officers were leaving to escape the epidemic. President Washington was about to depart and would return at the end of September, when the yellow fever usually abated.
After the President returned, Jefferson would come home to Monticello. In the meantime, he would move his office out of the city to some country house, close enough to carry out his official duties but be socially-distanced from the disease.