"Interpretation of A Narrative" analysis of an article (A Narrative) written by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. Yellow Fever outbreak of 1793.

Essay by m44nagantCollege, UndergraduateA-, April 2004

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Crises such as plagues and outbreaks of disease bring out the best in people, as well as the worst of them. A Narrative is an article written by Absalom Jones and Richard Allen, two African American ministers who lived in Philadelphia during the Yellow Fever outbreak of 1793. The article functions as both a historical account of the epidemic, and a refutation of false accusations made by Caucasians towards the African American community in the city. Jones and Allen made a valuable contribution to the historical record of this outbreak by writing this eloquent account. They were also better qualified to tell of this tragedy than any of their contemporaries.

Specifically, Allen and Jones wanted to give an accurate account of the physical damage of the disease, the methods used to treat it, as well as the effect it had on the social fabric of society.

They also felt compelled to speak for all of the misrepresented African Americans who had been slandered by white reporters with a limited knowledge of the truth. It is important to note that the authors refuted the allegations in a well-informed, non-partisan manner, consistent with the truth; at no time did they make a counter accusation without supporting it with specific examples. In short, this article was written to set the record straight.

In the fall of 1793, a solicitation was printed in the Philadelphia newspapers asking colored people to assist those who were suffering from yellow fever, and help to burry those who had died from it. According to the beliefs of the day, African Americans were less apt to become infected than white people. Allen, Jones, and many other colored people answered the call for two main reasons. Because in their minds they were less at risk...