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Philadelphia’s Plan-demic of 1793 – A 20/20 in 2020 Historical Timeline

1750   Stephen Girard was born May 20, in Bordeaux, France to an affluent Jewish family, several men of whom including his father held significant titles and duties throughout the overthrow of the Frank Kingdom and the establishment of the French Republic.

1770s Girard is a Privateer operating in the Caribbean and Atlantic under French flags. Primarily sailed between New Orleans and Haiti transporting enslaved Indigenous, sugar, and rum back and forth. Sometimes his runs circuited through New York Harbor as well.

1776   Arrives in Philadelphia, same year as War of Independence begins. A critical look at History would make one think this was beyond coincidence and that more than likely Girard was an agent-provocateur operating for the House of Lorraine within the Kingdom of France. It was the House of Lorraine who sponsored the American Revolution through negotiations with Ben Franklin. The strongest evidence pointing to this is the status and position the Girard family as a whole held throughout the overthrow of the Frank Kingdom and the establishment of the French Republic.

1776   Girard met and married Mary Lum, the daughter of John Lum a shipbuilder with whom Girard was conducting business. The courtship was not long and interestingly, Lum died three months before the marriage.

1781   To finance the War of Independence, The Bank of North America is established as a private national bank which served as the United States’ first de facto central bank. Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris and Revolutionary era financial planner Alexander Hamilton backed its establishment. The original charter as outlined by Hamilton called for the disbursement of 1,000 shares priced at $400 each. William Bingham, rumored to be the richest man in America after the Revolutionary War, purchased 9.5% of the available shares. The greatest share, however, 63.3%, was purchased on behalf of the United States government by Robert Morris using a loan from financiers associated with the House of Lorraine in France.

1783   U.S. gains independence from Great Britain in the Treaty of Paris. Both the emerging Federal Government and the 13 original states are heavily indebted to French financiers who sponsored the Sons of Liberty and Founding Fathers.

1784   Because the Bank of North America was a de facto central bank, a privately owned bank that owned the entire national debt, there was political opposition. Several Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued such an institution jeopardized national sovereignty. Moreover, it soon became apparent the original financial structure was not going to be able to pay off war debt as well as fund a growing nation. The nation’s debt and financial sovereignty remained a contentious issue through the rest of the decade.

1784   Stephen Girard initiates one of the earliest direct contacts between the United States and China by sending ships to Canton Delta. Establishes a trade for pelts from mainland America and silver bullion from pirating the Caribbean for Asian opium and tea. Possible slave running was involved with this trade as well.

1789   French Revolution begins May 5th. The House of Lorraine sponsors the overthrow of the Kingdom of France and the House of Bourbon; whose Kings wore the crown. US lends support to revolutionaries through the Society of the Cincinnati.

1790   Girard committed his wife to the Pennsylvania Hospital (today part of the University of Pennsylvania) as an incurable lunatic. She was under the care of Dr. Benjamin Rush. Girard becomes custodian of the Lum estate and the wealth afforded by his shipbuilding business. Girard immediately moves in mistresses to his estate.

1791   First Bank of the United States, was a national bank, chartered for a term of twenty years, by the United States Congress on February 25.  Again sponsored by Hamilton, the plan was to:

Have the Federal Government assume the Revolutionary War debts of the states

Pay off the war debts

Raise money for the new government

Establish a national bank and create a common currency

The Bank’s branches were all located in the fledgling nation’s port cities, primarily Philadelphia, New York, Charleston South Carolina and New Orleans. The First Bank of the United States positioned itself in port cities to facilitate collecting import/export taxes  (customs duties).

 1791  A Haitian “revolution” sponsored by the House of Lorraine to mirror what was happening in France is initiated on August 21st. Girard profits off the initial uprising in Haiti, when the enslaved at Le Cap rose up, massacred land owners, and set fire to the plantations. Girard was supposed to rescue the French landowners, instead he explained to them that he can’t transport their wealth and themselves at the same time. He convinces them to let him take their valuables and he’ll return for them. He never did. Jean-Jacques Dessalines killed most of them and Girard used the estimated $50,000 worth of valuables — equivalent to many millions today — to build a fleet of ships for his China-Americas trade routes.

1793   Louis XVI is condemned to death, beheaded and the monarchy abolished, making France the French First Republic on January 17th. The Girard family in France are integral actors in establishment of the Republic.

1793   The French Republic also declares war on the remaining Kingdoms in Europe, including the Kingdom of Great Britain. February 25th.

1793   The Reign of Terror sweeps through France starting in March. Tens of thousands of opponents of the Revolution are executed along with common criminals.

1793   George Washington takes an “America First” policy. Even though a huge debt was owed to the newly formed French Republic, and even though Great Britain was a colonial oppressor, Washington wanted the U.S. to remain neutral in the wars breaking out within Europe. Great Britain was still a major trade partner who also was still allied with several Indian nations. Washington felt the new nation was too vulnerable to engage the Brits so soon after gaining independence. Moreover, Washington considered the alliance Treaty with France to be for defensive, not offensive battles. The official Proclamation of Neutrality was issued April 22nd.

1793   In June, The Reign of Terror is mirrored in Haiti and one’s who were loyal to the Bourbon Kings were massacred. This caused an exodus of at least 10,000 refugees fleeing the destruction. Most arrive in the United States in two ports. New Orleans and Philadelphia.

1793   The Citizen Genet Affair:  Edmond Charles Genêt served as French minister to the United States from 1793 to 1794. The French assigned Genêt a serious mission:

-To obtain advance payments on debts the U.S. owed the French Republic:

-To negotiate a commercial treaty between the United States and France allowing merchants sailing under French flags safe harbor yet denying the same to British merchant fleets;

-To enforce portions of the 1778 Franco-American treaty, which allowed attacks on British merchant ships entering or leaving U.S. ports.

On April 8, Genet arrived in Charleston, South Carolina. Not honoring political protocol, he did not meet with the Heads of State before recruiting privateers and acquiring 4 ships harbored in South Carolina to raid British shipping off the American coast.  These acts violated Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality and angered Washington.

Genet arrived in Philadelphia on May 18. Before meeting with Washington, Genet and first met with Pro-French Republic Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson. Although Jefferson supported Genet’s efforts and disagreed with Washington’s neutrality policy, he too was angered with Genet’s violation of U.S. law.

After Jefferson met with Genet he held counsel with Washington, who reaffirmed American neutrality. Washington demanded Genet not secure any more privateers, cancel his plans to commandeer British ships, and return any privateered British goods. Genet insisted that privateering and selling the goods in American ports was within his rights by the 1778 Treaty of Amity and Commerce. Between the U.S. and French Republic.


In August, Stephen Girard transports at least 2,000 refugees fleeing the Haitian Reign of to Philadelphia. Crowded in makeshift housing near one of Girard’s properties on Dock Street off of the Delaware River, they are living in squalid unsanitary conditions. They also carried Yellow Fever.

Yellow Fever, also known as Black Vomit disease is terrifying. It is caused by a parasite that attacks the liver causing jaundice; hence the name Yellow Fever. The parasite can also cause bleeding within the digestive tract; hence the Black Vomit. The disease typically begins with fever and chills, after which the patient seems to recover. However, after this apparent remission, the infected victims skin turns yellow and he or she throws up black vomit. They fall into a stupor, become incontinent and waste away. The parasite is transferred by mosquito bite, a fact not known in1793. It was then assumed the disease was infectious and passed from human-to-human.

The plague created a crisis in the city as well as in government. Approximately 20,000 fled the city, more than a third of the city’s 50,000 total population at the time. The ones who fled tended to be affluent and could afford escaping. Those who remained tended to be poor and needy. They tended to self quarantine in small quarters lining thin streets and alleyways. It is said the only ones who walked the streets fearless of Yellow Fever were the Haitian refugees Girard transported to Dock Street because they felt they were immune to it.

The Governor and Mayor at that time ordered the city to be kept sanitized and the docks secured to prevent infected ships from the Caribbean from docking until they had gone through a period of quarantine. The mayor and a crisis committee planned a hospital at Bush Hill in the current Fairmount district. leading advocate on the committee was Stephen Girard.

Stephen Girard created the problem of the Yellow Fever Epidemic, and then he created questionable, self-serving responses. First and foremost he used it as an opportunity to present himself as a Philanthropic lover of humanity. Girard’s reputation at this time was grimy.  His fortune in shipping was made through a combination of smuggling, bribery, and enslavement both before and during the American Revolution. He bought and sold black-market opium in China. He owned plantations in Louisiana that bred enslaved indigenous and relied on enslaved labor.

Girard used the plandemic as an opportunity to rebrand himself from a miser and misanthrop – hater of humanity – to a generous philanthrop.

The Minutes of the Committee of Citizens, Sept. 16, 1793 report reads: “Stephen Girard and Peter Helm, members of this com-mittee, commiserating the calamitous state to which the sick may probably be reduced for want of suitable persons to superintend the Hospital, voluntarily offered their services for that benevolent employment. Resolved, that they be encouraged immediately to enter upon the important duties of their appointment.”–

Girard himself wrote, “The deplorable situation to which fright and sickness have reduced the inhabitants of our city demands succor from those who do not fear death. This will occupy me for some time, and if I have the misfortune to succumb I will at least have the satisfaction of having performed a duty which we all owe to one another.”

A first-hand account of Girard at Bush Hill was shared by a physician assisting.  Dr.  Devéze   describes   the   heroism    of    Stephen    Girard  at  Bush  Hill:  “I even saw one of the diseased…[discharge] the   contents   of   his   stomach   upon   [him].      What  did  Girard  do? .He wiped the patient’s cloaths comforted [him]…arranged the  bed,  [and]  inspired  with  courage,  by  renewing  in  him  the hope that he should recover. … From him he went to another,  that  vomited  offensive  matter  that  would  have  disheartened any other than this wonderful man…

Oh!  You  who  pretend  to  philanthropy,  reflect  upon  the  indefatigable Girard!  Take him for your model, and profit by his lessons; and you citizens of Philadelphia, may the name of Girard be ever dear to you! – If you, like me, had witnessed his  virtuous  actions,  his  brows  would  have  been  long  ago  adorned with a civic crown.”  –  Dr. Jean Devéze Physician

Various biographers have stated:

 “His gallantry in taking charge of Bush Hill was akin to the heroism of a soldier in battle who rises to an occasion and performs an act of incredible bravery far above and beyond the call of duty.  This was the real Stephen Girard, showing what  he  was  really  made  of,  who  came  to  the  fore  in  the  yellow fever epidemic when he could easily have followed the thousands of others who fled in fear and panic.”– George Wilson, Biographer“

When Girard made a proffer of his services, in the fever of 1793, it was not merely to aid by his counsel, or cooperate by  his  money,  in  alleviating  the  calamity  of  his  fellow  citizens; but it was to undertake in person the performance of  the  most  laborious  and  loathsome  duties  of  a  nurse  in  the  public  hospital,  for  those  who  were  then  laboring  under, and hourly dying of malignant fever!”  – Stephen Simpson, Biographer“

US History. Org frames his exploits this way:

Yellow Fever came to the city, likely by way of refugees who had fled a rebellion in St-Domingue and found refuge in America. With a touch of irony, Stephen Girard afforded financial assistance to some of those refugees who likely carried the disease to America. Girard was to emerge as a hero in the dissolution of the disease. Before the hideous malady had run its course, five thousand Philadelphians would die.

Citizens by the thousands fled the city, including the most prominent of them, President George Washington. But Girard, who could have taken refuge at any safe haven of his choosing, remained to care for the sick and the dying. He further supervised the work of other volunteers in transforming Bush Hill, a mansion just outside the city limits, into a hospital. There the grisly job of removing the dead coincided with improving the lot of the living. It was undertaken with Girard doing many of the menial tasks associated with those chores. Through his tireless efforts, those stricken with the disease, in the care of Girard and the staff at Bush Hill, gained a fair chance of survival. Those who perished were given proper burial.

The second goal Girard appeared to have was to create a market in the U.S. for the opium he was importing from China. To do this he coordinated efforts with Dr. Benjamin Rush. A Son of Liberty, Founding Father and Signer of the Declaration of Independence, he is a very complex character.

He served as Surgeon General of the Continental Army.  While serving in this role, Rush was accused of being disloyal by George Washington. Rush wrote two “anonymous” letters to Patrick Henry in which he questioned Washington’s military and administrative decision-making. Henry shared the letters to Washington, who experienced no difficulty in recognizing Rush’s hand. Washington allowed him to resign instead of court-martialing him.

Subsequently, Rush became a professor of chemistry, medical theory, and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania. He championed “heroic medicine” also known as depletion therapy. It involved blood-letting copious quarts of blood and purging with”Dr. Rush’s thunderclappers” laxatives containing more than 50% mercury. To better endure his “heroic medicine” Rush incorporated opium into his regimen to numb and sedate patients.

Rush wrote: “I have found bleeding to be useful, not only in cases where the pulse was full and quick but where it was slow and tense. I have bled twice in many and in one acute case four times, with the happiest effect. I consider intrepidity in the use of the lancet, at present, to be necessary, as it is in the use of mercury and jalap (jalapeno pepper) , in this insidious and ferocious disease.”

Rush was defiant and even fanatical in advocating his antiquated quackery. On one occasion, when Rush was addressing several hundred Philadelphians gathered in Kensington, a voice cried out from the crowd: “What, bleed and purge every one?” The doctor shouted back: “Yes! Bleed and purge all Kensington!”

Rush saw more than 100 patients a day from late August through early November. Most were not heroic enough to survive Dr. Rush’s depletion therapy. Many Physicians in the medical community criticized him vigorously, several arguing Rush’s treatment was worse than the disease. Dr. Deveze, observing first-hand at Bush Hill said that Rush’s heroic medicine “is a scourge more fatal to the human kind than the plague itself would be.”

Benjamin Rush eventually was relieved of his duties at Pennsylvania Hospital in 1793, primarily due to mounting resistance from medical colleagues. However, this did not occur until after Rush contributed significantly to the 4,044 official death count attributed to the plague in his service at Bush Hill.

The turning point occurred when Caspar Wister contracted Yellow Fever and barely survived Rush’s Heroic Medicine.

Pennsylvania Hospital/University of Pennsylvania’s approach to disease prevention thus became vaccine focused from this year 1793 forward to today.

The third goal Girard appeared to use the plandemic for was to consolidate controlling stock in the First Bank of the United States. During the Yellow Fever plague, Philadelphia’s Stock Market depreciated greatly, including the stock of the First Bank of the United States. Girard readily purchased as much stock as possible in late 1793/early 1794, thus becoming the majority stakeholder that same year.

The fourth and probably most relevant goal Girard appeared to have was to assist Citizen Ganet in his efforts of undermining U.S. sovereignty. Recall the social reality in Philadelphia’s streets. Out of 50,000 residents, 20,000 escaped the city. These were the affluent and influential citizens who could afford the exodus. The poor that remained tended to self quarantine at home, terrified they too may be infected. It is recorded that the ones who could roam Philadelphia without fear of the plague were the 2,000 to 3,000 Haitian refugees imported by Girard.

This is relevant because with the threat of death so heavy in the air, there were still political demonstrations numbering in the thousands in Philadelphia. The protestors were demanding the U.S. support the French Republic against the British. The protestors agitated and considered a threat to maintaining governance.

John Adams recalls the scene to Thomas Jefferson as such:

…You certainly never felt the Terrorism, excited by Genet, in 1793. when ten thousand People in the Streets of Philadelphia, day after day, threatened to drag Washington out of his House, and effect a Revolution in the Government, or compell it to declare War in favour of the French Revolution, and against England. The coolest and the firmest Minds, even among the Quakers in Philadelphia, have given their opinions to me, that nothing but the yellow Fever, which removed Dr Hutchinson and Jonathan Dickenson Sargent from this World, could have Saved the United States from a total Revolution of Government. I have no doubt you was fast asleep, in philosophical Tranquility, when ten thousand People, and perhaps many more, were parading the Streets of Philadelphia, on the Evening of my Fast Day. When even Governor Mifflin himself, thought it his Duty to order a Patrol of Horse And Foot to preserve the peace, when Markett Street was as full as Men could Stand by one another, and even before my Door; when Some of my domestics in phrenzy, determined to Sacrifice their Lives in my defence; when all were ready to make a desperate Salley among the multitude, and others were with difficulty and danger dragged back by the others; when I myself judged it prudent and necessary to order Chests of Arms from the War Office to be brought through bye Lanes and back Doors: determined to defend my House at the Expence of my Life, and the Lives of the few, very few Domestics and Friends within it. what think you of Terrorism, Mr Jefferson? Shall I investigate the Causes, the Motives, the Incentives to these Terrorisms? Shall I remind you of Phillip Freneau, of Loyd! of Ned Church? of Peter Markoe of Andrew Brown? of Duane? of Callender? of Tom Paine? of Greenleaf, of Cheetham, of Tennison at New york? of Benjamin Austin at Boston? But above all; Shall I request you, to collect the circular Letters from Members of Congress in the middle and Southern States to their Constituents? I would give all I am worth for a compleat Collection of all those circular Letters. Please to recollect Edward Livingstones motions and Speeches and those of his Associates in the case of Jonathan Robbins.

The real terrors of both Parties have allways been, and now are; The fear that they shall loose the Elections and consequently the Loaves and Fishes; and that their Antagonists will obtain them. Both parties have excited artificial Terrors and if I were summoned as a Witness to Say upon Oath, which Party had excited, machiavillialy, the most terror, and which had really felt the most, I could not6 give a more Sincere Answer, than in the vulgar Style “Put Them in a bagg and Shake7 them, and then See which comes out first.”

September 18 – United States Capitol cornerstone laying: President George Washington lays the cornerstone for the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

November 9 – George Washington visits Philadelphia to announce end of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia; around 5,000 people have been killed by the fever.

November 16 – 30, 1793,

President George Washington lived in this rented home while Philadelphia remained under quarantine for yellow fever.

Washington met with his cabinet here, and together, they conducted the nation’s business and addressed issues of foreign policy.

Thomas Jefferson, in updating the situation to Thomas Pinckney, Govoner of South Carolina he states:

The [yellow] fever [epidemic] which at that time had given alarm in Philadelphia, became afterward far more destructive than had been apprehended, & continued much longer from the uncommon drought & warmth of the autumn. The 1st day of this month…began the first rains which had fallen for some months. They were copious, & from that moment the…disease terminated most suddenly. The inhabitants who had left the city, are now all returned, & business going on again as briskly as ever….

You have probably heard of a great misunderstanding between Mr Genet & us. On the meeting of Congress it will be made public…. We have kept it merely personal, convinced his nation [France] will disapprove him. To them [the French] we have with the utmost assiduity given every proof of inviolate attachment…