Underschooled and ill-equipped, the men who attended the pioneers practiced a rugged brand of medicine—but they made some major advances all the same
At every step in the trek westward, America’s pioneers found an enemy more ubiquitous, more stealthy, and more deadly than the Indians, yet in our histories we tend to forget this dread opponent. It was, quite simply, disease.
The causes of the cholera epidemic of 1832 were wholly incomprehensible to the people of the time.
It would of course be comforting to think that this moral obtuseness was peculiar to Englishmen. It seems, however, to have been prevalent in America as well, and the cholera epidemics of the last century bring the thing into focus.