Medicine and Slaves Essay

Submitted By obonham
Words: 891
Pages: 4

Medicine and Healthcare in Early America During the times of early America bacteria and viruses were responsible for most diseases. Furthermore, there was very little link between unsanitary conditions and disease. The following passages from StratfordHall.Org give examples of the diseases, conditions and treatments that Early Americans faced during the 18th Century: A Colonial teenager faced a struggle for existence. The average life expectancy was under twenty-five years. Diseases such as smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, pneumonia, influenza, rickets, and fevers caused many deaths in children and adults. Wells for drinking water were often contaminated by nearby privies and unpenned animals, causing many illnesses. Colonial homes had no bathroom, septic system, or running water. Chamber pots, hidden under beds and inside chests, performed the function of today’s toilets. Slaves would dump the contents of the pots daily. Outdoor toilets of wood or brick, called privies, sometimes had four or more holes for larger families. The waste pits below the privies were normally cleaned by chickens; sometimes slaves would have to shovel out the pits. People in this period were accustomed to living with smells that we would consider extremely unpleasant. Today most people bathe or shower daily, a practice that adults and children of the colonial period would have considered odd. They did not believe in bathing everyday, or even every week. They felt that bathing washed away the layer of dirt that was their protection against germs and disease. Most baths consisted of washing with a cloth dipped into a basin of water. When washing in warm water was desired, water had to be heated in the fireplace. No chemical deodorants or anti-antiperspirants masked body odors; however, since nearly everyone shared the same standard of cleanliness, odors were not as offensive. Pomanders, tussie-mussies, colognes, and lavender and other fragrant herbs used as air fresheners all helped to make indoor odors tolerable.
Women as Caregiver Healthcare during eighteenth century was not like it is today. Most of the healthcare was provided by the women in the home along with their other responsibilities such as taking care of the housekeeping and caring for the children. Despite the fact that they rarely received formal training they served as nurses, doctors, dentist and pharmacist for their on families and neighbors. The only training they received was from watching their mothers and grandmothers take care of the sick. The women were taught how to grow medicinal herbs in the kitchen and makeup different concoctions for different remedies by using all the available resources they had or could find nearby. Some women practiced medicine outside of their homes to help others in their community and when they began preparing, prescribing, and advertising cures for certain diseases some of the women had to compete against the males. They started dominating the field of medicine. During the Revolutionary War, women served as nurses so that more men could fight in the war. The women took care of the wounded and the sick by dressing wounds, cleaning beds, cooking, preparing and administering medicine. They also received compensation and rations for their service.
Medical Care Among Slaves According to David McBride, “ For the slaves, ‘real’ health care more often than not was a result of folk healers, grandmother midwives, lay nurses, social networks such as churches, and for pregnant slaves, female networks.” In making this comment, McBride is saying slaves received healthcare treatment from folk healers, grandmother midwives and so on. Slaves were accustomed to dealing with everyday ailments with…