Home History Memphis’ yellow fever epidemic

Memphis’ yellow fever epidemic


Yesterday, Memphis celebrated the anniversary of its founding. In 1819, when future President Andrew Jackson and two entrepreneurs decided to incorporate the new town, they were thinking about the potential wealth a city on the bluffs could bring.

Although Memphis owes much of its early success to the Mississippi River, its location also proved to be detrimental – even deadly.

In 1873, mosquitoes – brought by flooding – began infecting residents with the yellow fever virus. During the epidemic, 5,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths were reported. Five years later, the epidemic returned even stronger, nearly wiping out the entire city.

– Caroline Parsley, The 100 Companies

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The Memphis 100