81 pages 2 hours read

Jim Murphy

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Nonfiction | Book | Middle Grade | Published in 2014

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Answer Key

Chapters 1-3

Reading Check

1. A “wealthy manufacturer who had used his fortune to help finance the Revolutionary War” (Chapter 1)

2. It was the largest inhabited American city at the time, and it served as the capital of the United States. (Chapter 1)

3. Pigeons (Chapter 1)

4. It can spread easily and kill half of those who fall ill to it. (Chapter 2)

5. The city’s residents “began leaving the city.” (Chapter 3)

Short Answer

1. Murphy’s text opens with a description of a hot summer day in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1793. He paints a picture for the reader with details about the stench of dead animals, the uncovered sewer system, and spoiled cargo from incoming ships. (Chapter 1)

2. The French helped the colonists fight the British, forcing their surrender at the Battle of Yorktown and eventually securing “freedom for the United States.” (Chapter 1)

3. Within the span of two weeks, medical professionals in the Philadelphia area began to notice the increase of a strange illness. People’s symptoms followed the same pattern: chills, headache, aches in the body, fever and constipation, a brief respite, and then a yellowing of the skin and vomiting of black bile before falling into a delirium.