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This Day in Georgia History

August 18, 1908

Georgia Urged U.S. Health Department

In response to a national panic in 1907 over typhoid fever outbreaks attributed to “Typhoid Mary,” the Georgia General Assembly adopted a joint resolution urging Congress to create a U.S. Health Department. The memorial listed a host of reasons why the federal government should act, including the financial cost of treatment and the loss of life from tuberculosis, typhoid fever, and other communicable diseases. It further noted that “disease and degeneracy are strong factors in the causation of crime”; that national action was needed since only 23 states then maintained vital statistics; and that, “It is more humane and noble to destroy the enemies of health when they touch our territories rather than allow the conditions that are inviting them in and then undertake to fight them when they are bush whacking us from every side of the road as we travel from section to section and from State to State, watching an opportunity when they might leap from the walls of a house or couch at night or streams as they trickle through the forest or food as we feed out bodies.” [Yes, that was the actual language used in the joint resolution.]