Virginia Memory, Library of Virginia
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THIS DAY IN VIRGINIA HISTORY

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September 17, 1793

Virginia General Assembly, House of Delegates, Speaker, Executive Communications Collection, Accession 36912, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. Virginia General Assembly, House of Delegates, Speaker, Executive Communications Collection, Accession 36912, Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Governor Henry Lee Quarantined Ships

Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee (1756–1818), Virginia governor (1791–1794), proclaimed Philadelphia and several Caribbean Islands were “infected with the PLAGUE and other infectious DISEASE” and ordered a quarantine on ships originating from those ports. The “plague” feared by the governor was yellow fever, from which Philadelphia was suffering an epidemic. Yellow fever, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes, was an almost annual problem in many United States coastal cities until the twentieth century when the work of Virginian Walter Reed (1851–1902) in Cuba led to the almost complete eradication of the disease in the United States.