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Milk Sickness and the Poisoning of Mrs. Lincoln

As American colonists move West they meet with a mysterious new disease: the Milk Sickness, otherwise known as the Trembles, the Slows and many other names that indicate a rural, undeveloped region. It is not an epidemic, but as roads improve, perishable items such as milk, butter and meat are carried further and faster so the poisoning spreads. It begins with cows trembling. In people the symptoms are intestinal pain, vomiting and a persistent death. Recently, a number of people have died of the Milk Sickness at the Little Pigeon Creek Settlement in southwest Indiana, including Nancy Hanks Lincoln, the mother of 9-year-old Abraham Lincoln. It is caused by a poison from the WHITE snakeroot plant. When cows and goats graze in the woods they eat this plant. People eat the dairy products and meat from those animals which concentrates the poison leading to vomiting and death. Cattle prefer grass, but they will eat the WHITE snakeroot during times of drought when there is no other food available. The cause of the poisoning will not be discovered until 1928. One wonders why it takes so long. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I browsed a number of journal articles from the 1880s on the subject of milk sickness. It is pathetic to watch these men of science trying to guess what is going wrong instead of following the cows around and figuring out what the heck they were eating. There was a certain amount of class prejudice going on. Scientists live in cities. Farming near cities are usually takes place in developed lands mostly cleared of wood and wild brush including the WHITE snakeroot. Scientists didn't want to ride long distances to remote regions just to watch smelly cows. But when long-distance transportation of perishable foods became practical, the poisoning became a problem for the cities, and thus became a problem for the scientists who lived there. FYI, I emphasize WHITE snakeroot as a poisonous plant because a medicinal grade BLACK snakeroot or Black cohosh is sometimes used to help women with symptoms of menopause. Of course, I am not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. [3] [4] [5]

Andrew Jackson Invades Spanish-Florida

It's all fun and games until someone gets massacred. By an earlier treaty, the Creek Indians were supposed to move away from the American border with Spanish Florida. The Seminole Indians are a type of Creek Indian but some of them don't think so. Raids across the American border (by both sides) have escalated into the Scott Massacre when a supply boat headed for Fort Scott is attacked by Indians. There are few survivors. General Andrew Jackson is in charge of the US Army in the South, so on his own initiative (sometimes called "exceeding one's authority") he assembles his troops at Fort Scott and crosses the border into Florida. Indians who resist are killed. Women and children are removed. Collaborators, even British subjects, usually get a tribunal before they are hanged or shot. Tallahassee is gone. Indian villages are abandoned. By the time Jackson reaches Pensacola, the Florida governor is hopping mad. He certifies that the Indians in Pensacola are unarmed. Jackson doesn't stop, so the governor retreats to Fort Barrancas and after exchanging some cannon fire, the Spanish governor surrenders. The State Department is ecstatic! The War department is not. By next year Spain will sell Florida to the United States for 5 million dollars which is a little over 96 million in today's dollars. [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Did Andrew Jackson hate Indians? No. He hated murderers and if those murderers were Indians he was merciless. He didn't treat Indians as equals, but if an Indian tribe worked with him, Jackson defended them. If Indians fought against him, Jackson beat the ever-loving tar out of them. As Daniel Webster said of Jackson, "He is a dangerous man." True enough. Secondly, all governments must face the problem of insurgents crossing a national border to cause havoc and then crossing back for relative safety. That happened when Russia invaded Afghanistan. The same thing happened when the United States invaded Afghanistan and it still happens. Governments and the military think long and hard before invading yet another country. One war is usually difficult enough. [8]

In Other News

  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein" is published anonymously. She explores what might happen if a scientist with good intentions brings a man back to life without considering whether the man might NOT want the life he has been given. [9] [10]
  • The modern flag of the United States is adopted. The original Flag Act of 1777 indicated 13 stars on a field of blue. The new rule is one white star per state added on 4th of July following the date of admission. That worked until 1953 when someone noticed that Congress never approved Ohio's admission to the Union. (They fixed it.) [11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1818, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Milk sickness - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “Milk sickness was first described in writing by a European American in 1809, when Dr. Thomas Barbee of Bourbon County, Kentucky, detailed its symptoms. Variously described as 'the trembles', 'the slows' or the illness 'under which man turns sick and his domestic animals tremble,' it was a frequent cause of illness and death. The fatality rate was so high that sometimes half the people in a frontier settlement might die of milk sickness. Doctors used their contemporary treatment of bloodletting, but it had little success as it was unrelated to the cause of the illness.”
  2. Nancy Lincoln - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “Nancy Lincoln died from milk sickness at the Little Pigeon Creek Community in Spencer County when Abraham was nine years old.”
  3. "Milk-Sickness In America". The British Medical Journal (BMJ) 2 (1122): 22. July 1, 1882. http://www.austinlibrary.com:2138/stable/25260023.  </ref>
  4. Actaea racemosa - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “It grows in a variety of woodland habitats, and is often found in small woodland openings. The roots and rhizomes have long been used medicinally by Native Americans. Extracts from these plant materials are thought to possess analgesic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory properties. Today, black cohosh extracts are being studied as effective treatments for symptoms associated with menopause.”
  5. Beer, A.-M.; A. Neff (August 2013). "Differentiated Evaluation of Extract-Specific Evidence on Cimicifuga racemosa's Efficacy and Safety for Climacteric Complaints". Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 1.722: 860602. Template:Citation/identifier. Template:Citation/identifierTemplate:Only in print. "A literature search for clinical studies examining CR's efficacy and safety for menopausal complaints was conducted. The results were sorted by type of extract, regulatory status, and indication. Accordingly, Oxford Levels of Evidence (LOE) and Grades of Recommendation (GR) were determined. CR extracts demonstrated a good to very good safety in general, on estrogen-sensitive organs and the liver. However, only registered CR medicinal products were able to prove their efficacy.". 
  6. Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America. Broadway Books. ISBN 0767916883. “Now commanding the entire Southern division of the United States Army, he entered the Spanish territory of Florida, from which the Seminole Indians were conducting raids on American soil, and largely on his own initiative seized Pensacola from the Spanish on May 24, 1818.” 
  7. Seminole - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “In Florida, the Creeks had earlier intermingled with the Choctaw and other few remaining indigenous people. In a process of ethnogenesis, the Native Americans formed a new culture which they called 'Seminole', a derivative of the Mvskoke' (a Creek language) word simano-li, an adaptation of the Spanish cimarrón which means 'wild' (in their case, 'wild men'), or 'runaway' men. The Seminole were a heterogeneous tribe made up of mostly Lower Creeks from Georgia, who by the time of the Creek Wars (1812–1813) numbered about 4,000 in Florida.”
  8. Meacham, Jon. American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9781400063253. “Jackson was neither a humanitarian nor a blind bigot. He thought of himself as practical.” 
  9. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 384-385. 
  10. Frankenstein - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is a novel written by the English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley that tells the story of a young science student Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque but sentient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley started writing the story when she was 18, and the first edition of the novel was published anonymously in London in 1818, when she was 20. Shelley's name first appeared on the second edition, published in France in 1823.”
  11. Flag Acts (United States) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
  12. Ohio - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “On February 19, 1803, US President Thomas Jefferson signed an act of Congress that approved Ohio's boundaries and constitution. However, Congress had never passed a resolution formally admitting Ohio as the 17th state. The current custom of Congress declaring an official date of statehood did not begin until 1812, with Louisiana's admission as the 18th state. Although no formal resolution of admission was required, when the oversight was discovered in 1953, Ohio congressman George H. Bender introduced a bill in Congress to admit Ohio to the Union retroactive to March 1, 1803, the date on which the Ohio General Assembly first convened.”
  13. Silent Night - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “The song was first performed on Christmas Eve 1818 at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria. A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had already written the lyrics of the song 'Stille Nacht' in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region, where Joseph had worked as a co-adjutor.”
  14. 'Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht' - Vienna Boys Choir/Die Wiener Sängerknaben. YouTube (1967). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “This arrangement as performed by the WSK-VBC of the very popular Austrian Christmas carol is my personal favourite. Music by Franz Xaver Gruber. Lyrics by Joseph Franz Mohr. 1818”
  15. Michael Bublé - Silent Night (AUDIO). YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2016. “Michael Bublé - Silent Night [AUDIO]”

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