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Disease, War, and the Imperial StateThe Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years' War$
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Erica Charters

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226180007

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226180144.001.0001

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The Black Vomit and the Provincial Press:

The Black Vomit and the Provincial Press:

The Campaigns in the West Indies

(p.53) Chapter Two The Black Vomit and the Provincial Press
Disease, War, and the Imperial State

Erica Charters

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the role of disease and responses thereto during the 1759 campaigns against French-held Martinique and Guadeloupe and the 1762 campaign against Spanish-held Cuba. Contextualized by contemporary and modern medical understanding of tropical disease, this chapter shows that officials were aware of the dangers of disease in the West Indian climate and followed the advice of medical authorities concerning hot climates. Yet little could be done to prevent high rates of morbidity and mortality, particularly as a result of yellow fever. This serves as a reminder that rates of disease are not always an accurate way to assess medical care and adaptation to foreign environments, whether physical or cultural. The chapter concludes with an examination of the reports of disease in colonial American newspapers, tracing the role that disease played in the emerging colonial public sphere and its nascent imperial frustrations. In the broader context of imperial-colonial relations, disease in West Indian campaigns demonstrates the difficulties of colonial warfare and its potential for straining relations between Britain and its colonies.

Keywords:   yellow fever, Havana, public sphere, colonial warfare, tropical medicine, colonial press

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