October 7: John McNeill: Revolutionary Mosquitoes: Malaria, Yellow Fever, and Independence in the Americas, 1776-1825

In this presentation to the Washington History Seminar, John McNeill argued that yellow fever and malaria, both mosquito-borne diseases, helped make the Americas free.  In the campaigns of 1780-81 in the Carolinas and Virginia, in the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804, in the wars of independence in the Spanish Americas of 1808-25, locally born and raised soldiers and militia enjoyed a strong advantage over European troops in terms of their resistance to these two infections.  Did disease tip the military balance?

Educated at Swarthmore College and Duke University, John McNeill is currently Professor of History and University Professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  His books include The Mountains of the Mediterranean World(1992); Something New Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the 20th-century World (2000); and Mosquito Empires: War and Ecology in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914 (2010).  His next will be a global environmental history of the Industrial Revolution.

In the weekly Report from the Field, Richard Immerman of Temple University, representing the  Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, discussed issues historians are encountering because of the National Archives and Records Administration’s extreme difficulty in keeping up with newly deposited material.

A webcast and podcast will be available here shortly.