1700 -- Some 600 ships are engaged in hauling "sea coal" from Newcastle to London, an enormous increase compared to 1650, when only two ships regularly carried sea coal. The reason? Rapid industrialization and the demand for iron and naval supplies has stripped England's forests.
1706 -- Benjamin Franklin born January 17 in Boston, Mass. Franklin's concern for sanitation and pure drinking water was a part of his lifelong concern for the improvement of Philadelphia in "small matters." But Franklin also saw a larger question -- one of "public rights" as opposed to private rights -- in many of these controversies.
1709 -- Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale, England uses coal instead of wood for manufacturing iron. British coal production around this time is 3 million tons per year, or five times more than the rest of the world combined. (Simmons).
1711 -- Johnathan Swift notes the contents of London's gutters: "sweepings from butchers' stalls, dung, guts and blood, drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud..." (Markham, Brimblecombe).
1712 -- Bernardo Ramazzini (1633 - 1714), the father of occupational medicine, publishes De Morbis Artificum Diatriba (English title, printed in 1764 was The Diseases of Artificers, which by their particular callings they are most liable to, with the Method of avoiding them, and their Cure). The book describes the hazards of 52 occupations, including leather tanning, wrestling, and gravedigging. Ramazzini says that with a general improvement in diet and less arduous work, people would be better able to resist attacks on their health. Ramazzini also noticed that nuns tended to have a higher incidence of breat cancer and that lead miners and workers often had skin the same color as the metal. "Demons and ghosts are often found to disturb the [lead] miners," he said.
1721 -- Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, popularizes smallpox inoculation, a practice she had observed in Turkey.
1721-1728 -- A rabies epidemic sweeps across eastern Europe during these years. According to Spanish medical historian Juan Gomez-Alonso, M.D., this may be the historical origin of the vampire legends, later grafted by Victorian era British novelists to the much earlier legends of Vlad the Impaler, the original Count Dracula, and Elizabeth Bathory, the Hungarian "blood countess" who bathed in the blood of virgins.
1723 -- Lead in alcohol stills causes serious stomach pains, a commission of inquiry learns. The commission, based in Boston, investigates complaints about New England rum from consumers in North Carolina. "It poisoned their people, giving them the Dry Bellyache," Benjamin Franklin said while describing the incident in a 1767 letter to a friend who was investigating a similar problem in Devonshire, England.
1730 -- Jodhpur, India -- The original "tree huggers" were 294 men and 69 women of the Bishnois branch of the Hindu faith who died while trying to protect Khejri trees from foresters. The Bishnois practice a religion of environmental conservation, including a ban on the cutting of any green tree. When a senior officer of Jodhpur state arrived to cut down the trees in 1730, which were to be used for a lime kiln to build a palace, one of the Bishnois woman hugged a Khejri tree. The officer ordered the foresters to decapitate her. Her three daughters followed and many others followed. This mass slaughter led to a royal order that prohibited the cutting of any tree in a Bishnoi village. To this day, Bishnoi villages are wooded oases in the otherwise harsh Rajasthan desert, where wildlife congregates in proximity to the people. The Thar region of Pakistan is adjacent to the Rajasthan desert of India. Although the Thari people are now mostly Islamic, their traditional teachings about the sanctity of life somewhat resemble those of the Bishnoi. The Sindh desert is farther west in Pakistan. The Sindhi people, related to the Thari, have similar beliefs, but are now culturally divided: Sindhis who practice Hinduism long ago migrated into the Mumbai region of India, while those who practice Islam remain in Pakistan. (About this date: Note that Guha had this event in 1720 and said that hundreds of Bishnois Hindus of Khejadali went to their deaths trying to protect trees from the Maharaja of Jodhpur, who needed wood to fuel the lime kilns for cement to build his palace. The date of the event has been given as 1778 (Clifton), 1720 (Guha) and 1750 (Gottlieb) and 1730 (Wikipedia). The Bishnois inspired the modern Chipko Movement to preserve Himalayan forests.
1739 -- Benjamin Franklin and neighbors petition Pennsylvania Assembly to stop waste dumping and remove tanneries from Philadelphia's commercial district. Foul smell, lower property values, disease and interference with fire fighting are cited. The industries complain that their rights are being violated, but Franklin argues for "public rights." Franklin and the environmentalists win a symbolic battle but the dumping goes on.
1741 -- Foundling Hospital of London established. Other children's hospitals in Germany and France built, showing concern for infant mortality. By 1800, infant mortality in one London hospital dropped from 66 per thousand to 13 per thousand.
1748 -- Jeremy Bentham born 15 February, (d 6 June 1832) A philosopher and jurist whose doctrine of Utilitarianism and the principle of `the greatest happiness of the greatest number' was a yardstick for the progress of social reform in 19th century Britain. He was an outspoken advocate of law reform, a pugnacious critic of established political doctrines like natural law and contractarianism, and the first to produce a utilitarian justification for democracy. He also had much to say of note on subjects as diverse as prison reform, religion, poor relief, international law, and animal welfare. (Bentham Project). His 1780 book An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation includes a footnote on "Interests of inferior animals improperly neglected in legislation by the insensibility of the ancient jurists." The footnote concludes, "The question is not, Can they reason? Nor Can they talk? But, Can they suffer?" It may be the most quoted footnote phrase of all time. Bentham was a friend of Lord Thomas Erskine, 1750-1823, who in 1809 made the first attempt to pass a British humane law. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1748 -1762 -- Jared Eliot, clergyman and physician, writes Essays on Field Husbandry in New England, promoting soil conservation
1789 -- Kaiser Joseph II of Germany banned animal baiting for sport.
1750 -- Typhus epidemic sweeps through London, killing thousands including the Lord Mayor. An inquiry traces one possible origin to Newgate Prison, which was "in a very filthy condition and had long been so." This will lead, by 1779, to John Howard's calls for reform.
1750 -- Gin Lane, an engraving by English artist William Hogarth, helps spur social reform. The engraving depicts a drunken mother surrounded by a scene of squalor. A year later, the Gin Acts give magistrates control over licensing pubs in Britain.
1753 -- March 26, Benjamin Thompson Count Rumford born in North Woburn, Mass. (d 21 August 1814) Thompson was a British loyalist who joined the British Army during the American Revolution and was subsequently made Count Rumford by George III. He went into exile after the revolution and worked for the Kingdom of Bavaria for much of his life. In science, he was known for early theories of thermodynamics. In public health he was known for his advocacy of public hygiene and better living conditions for the poor. For example, he campaigned (especially in Austria) for lowering the cost of living, providing inexpensive and health homes with cheap supply of heat and light, warm meals for school children and soup kitchens for the hungry. There were, he said, “other kinds of glory than that of victory in battle.”( Lehrburger 1953). Rumford died in France.
1754 -- James Lind publishes A Treatise on Scurvy. At the time, more British sailors were dying from scurvy during wartime than were killed in combat. Nearly two centuries earlier the Dutch had discovered the benefits of citrus fruits and juices to sailors on long voyages. When the practice is finally adopted by the Royal Navy in 1795, scurvy disappeared from the ranks “as if by magic.”
1760 -- First experiments on use of coal-gas for lighting by coal mine owner George Dixon in Newcastle, England.
1762 --1769 -- Philadelphia committee led by Benjamin Franklin attempts to regulate waste disposal and water pollution.
1760s - 1790s -- French Enlightenment Philosophers reconsider the social contract and the role of the state, problems of the wretchedly poor weigh heavily. French philosopher Baudeau writes that "the true poor have a real right to demand basic necessities." Similarly, the Baron de Montyon in 1778 argues that poverty is "a slow poison" and that malnutrition, high infant mortality and injuries from dangerous trades were all problems of the poor which the government must address. These ideas will become part of the French revolution's public health policy (See 1789).
1767 -- Devonshire Colic -- From Sept. 1762 to July 1767 almost 300 cases of what was called Devonshire Colic were taken to Exeter hospitals. English physician George Baker (with help from Benjamin Franklin) noticed the symptoms were similar to those shown by painters who suffered from lead poisoning. With this clue, Baker examined Devonshire cider and found it contained lead. He also examined the cider presses and found that, unlike cider presses in other regions, the Devonshire presses were lined with sheets of lead.
1769, Sept. 14 -- Alexander Von Humboldt born in Germany. Explorer and pioneering geographer for whom the Humboldt current is named. Von Humbolt noted in 1819 that the fluctuating levels of a Venezuelan lake were related to deforestation in the surrounding hills.
By felling the trees that cover the tops and sides of mountains, men in every climate prepaer at once two calamities for future generations: the want of fuel and the scarcity of water... When forests are destroyed ... the beds of rivers, remaining dry during part of the year, are converted into torrents whenever great rain falls on the heights...
1770 -- William Wordsworth born (1770 - 1850) First of the English romantic poets, is born. Wordsworth thought the Industrial revolution was an "outrage done to nature" and was appalled that the common people were no longer "breathing fresh air" or "treading the green earth."
1773 -- William Bartram (1739-1823) American naturalist sets out on a five year journey through the US Southeast to describe wildlife and wilderness from Florida to the Mississippi. His book, Travels, is published in 1791 and becomes one of the early literary classics of the new United States of America. See the Travels of William Bartram web site.
1775 -- English scientist Percival Pott finds that coal is causing an unusually high incidence of cancer among chimney sweeps.
1779 -- John Howard, sheriff of Bedfordshire, writes State of the Prisons showing how prison diseases could spread to the general population. “People are galvanized into action when the facts about social disease are forced upon them," he said. His campaign is an early example of how "... an aroused public opinion could be employed as a lever to compel reform."
1779 -- Johann Peter Frank (1745-1821), writes A Complete System of Medical Policy in Germany advocating governmental responsibility for clean water, sewage systems, garbage disposal, food inspection and other health measures under an authoritative "medical police." This idea was well received and influenced policy in Germany, Italy and other nearby nations. The authoritarian approach did not sit well with the French, British or Americans, where direct government controls developed only in areas of specific problems such as communicable disease and sanitation.
1783 -- US diplomats make fishing rights in waters off Newfoundland a high priority in negotiations over independence from Britain.
1784 -- Benjamin Franklin notes that the switch from wood to coal had saved what remained of England’s forests and he urged France and Germany to do the same.
1785 -- April 26 -- John James Audubon born in Les Cayes Haiti. He moved to Philadelphia in 1803 and failed at business during the depression of 1819. In 1826 the first edition of Birds of America, an ongoing collection of color engravings, was published in Scotland. He returned to America in 1839 to continue collecting and painting. He died in 1851. The Audubon Society, was founded in 1905 in his honor by George Bird Grinell. Also see Audubon Society biography.
1785 -- Thomas Jefferson publishes Notes on the State of Virginia which, in part, argues against the European superstition that the new continent had degenerate animals and plants. He writes about quadrapeds "not to produce a conclusion in favour of the American species, but to justify a suspension of opinion until we are better informed, and a suspicion in the mean time that there is no uniform difference in favour of either; which is all pretend."
1786 -- Woolen mill workers displaced by machinery petition mill owners in Leeds, England. In 1791, mill owners reply that even though machines have "reduced manual Labour nearly one third, and each [machine] at its first Introduction carried an Alarm to the Work People, yet each has contributed to advance the Wages and to increase the Trade..." This dialogue eventually degenerates into the Luddite Riots of 1811-1812.
1786 -- Charles Willson Peale opens a museum in Philadelphia displaying the first reconstructed skeleton of the "American mastodon" and other native animals, along with portraits he had painted of Washington, Jefferson and other revolutionary leaders.
1789 -- Benjamin Franklin leaves money in a widely publicized codicil to his will to build fresh water pipeline to Philadelphia due to the link between bad water and disease. Within a few years, one quarter of the population of the town dies in a yellow fever epidemic.
1789 -- July 14 -- The storming of the Bastille opens the French Revolution. Although the revolution is remembered for the Terror, French revolutionaries should also be remembered for creating a new kind of public health policy. "The right of property," said the revolutionary Robespierre, "is limited like all others by the obligation to respect the rights of others. It must not impair either the safety or the liberty or the existence or the property of our fellowmen." Health became among the most important individual rights, and the state was bound to protect it in the same way that it was bound to protect liberty. The French revolutionaries saw public health policy as part of a new kind of political system that served the people, and they attempted to create the world's first national system of social assistance and free medical care. Their ideas and institutions did not achieve the ideal, but the emerging French system of free medical care for the poor and open hospitals profoundly influenced the rest of Europe in the 19th century, (Hodgkinson, 1973)
1790 -- Emergence in Vermont of the Dorrilites, a short-lived vegan sect which allegedly practiced "free love," and may have inspired both the Millerites, who became the Seventh Day Adventists, and Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1791-- The New York state assembly closes the hunting season on the heath hen. The species is extinct by the early 1900s.
1792 -- William Murdock (chief engineer with Boulton & Watt) first uses coal gas to light a, small room in Redruth, Cornwall; He improved the gas by passing it through water. This experiment is usually noted as the beginning of the manufactured gas industry, which created vast pools of toxic coal tar in thousands of European and American towns and cities. Although the industry took off in the 1830s, its environmental legacy is only beginning to be understood.
1794-1851 -- Life of Sylvester Graham, U.S. Presbyterian minister and temperance crusader, who invented the Graham cracker as an alleged cure for lust. Sylvester Graham became a vegetarian circa 1826 under the influence of the Rev. William Metcalfe, founder of the first vegetarian church in Philadelphia. Metcalfe had been a member of the first vegetarian church in England, the Bible Christian Church founded by William Cowherd near Manchester in 1809. Graham's followers included William Alcott, M.D., the first prominent vegetarian in the Alcott family, cousin of Bronson Alcott.; pioneering newspaper publisher Horace Greeley; and Seventh Day Adventist Church builders Ellen and James White. Two others, John Harvey Kellogg, M.D., 1854-1941, and his brother W.K. Kellogg, 1860-1951, went on to invent and popularize peanut butter, corn flakes, granola, and soy milk. (M. Clifton, 2007)
1795 -- Sir Thomas Percival, a Manchester, UK physician, leads group of doctors who form Manchester Board of Health to supervise textile mills and recommend hours and working conditions. Their report led Sir Robert Peel to introduce the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act of 1802. Children were only permitted to work 12 hours per day, walls had to be washed and visitors had to be admitted to factories to make suggestions.
1796 -- Edward Jenner a country physician begins inoculations from cowpox (the bovine form of the disease); and when he later inoculated the same subject with smallpox, the disease did not appear. His inocculation experiments were seen as a milestone in public health.
1798 -- Rev. Thomas Malthus writes Essay on the Principle of Population which influenced Darwin and many others. Malthus observed that plants and animals produce far more offspring than can survive, and thought that Man would also be capable of overproducing unless family size was regulated. The main problem would be poverty and famine, he believed. His views were not popular among social reformers who believed that the proper social structures could eradicate the ills of man. In effect, Malthus saw the future as a disaster while reformers (like Edwin Chadwick) saw an emerging utopia.
1799 -- Manhattan Company formed to build water line in New York City. Company lives on and thrives as Chase Manhattan Bank.
1799 -- Phileppe Lebon, aware of William Murdock's coal gas experiments seven years beforehand, becomes the first to illuminate a public building with gas. The hotel Seignelay in Paris is lit using wood gas, not coal. Political turmoil curtails the project and then Lebon's untimely death by robbery 1804 ends the experiments.
1800 -- 4 January, Edwin Chadwick born. Chadwick was the author of the 1842 Report on Sanitary Conditions of the Laboring Population of Great Britain and a tireless advocate for public health reform in the UK.
1800 -- Beginnings of first modern municipal sewers in London, but water supply is still frequently contaminated.
1803 -- Louisiana Purchase finalized April 30. France sold 828,000 square miles stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi River to Idaho.
1803 -- May 3, Ralph Waldo Emerson born. Emerson writes Nature in 1836 and is a leader of the Transendentalist movement that includes Coleridge, Byron, Shelly, Keats, Thoreau, Ruskin, Whitman and others. He died in 1882.
1804 -- John Pintard, first Health Inspector in U.S. appointed in New York in response to epidemics of yellow fever. From 1810 -- 1838, health inspectors are a branch of the police department with duties including environmental sanitation, vital statistics and law enforcement.
1804 -- Smoke in Pittsburgh -- Pittsburgh official Presley
Neville wrote "the general dissatisfaction which prevails and the frequent complaints
which are exhibited, in consequence of the Coal Smoke from many buildings in
the Borough, particularly from smithies and blacksmith shops..." The smoke affected
the "comfort, health and... peace and harmony" of the new city. As in most other
cities, the remedy of the age was to build higher chimneys.
1804 -- May 14 -- Lewis and Clark expedition begins the journey up the Missouri River to explore the geography, flora and fauna of the interior of North America.
1805 -- Cousin de Grainville writes The Last Man, perhaps the first doomsday tale. The Frenc author describes the human race dwindling through natural processes to a lonely end. De Grainville committed suicide shortly after the novel was published. (Weart, p. 19).
1805-1844 -- Life of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, better known as the Mormons. Smith wrote in his History of the Church that he "exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger." A later Mormon church president, Joseph F. Smith, wrote in Gospel Doctrine that, "I do not believe any man should kill animals or birds unless he needs them for food. I think it is wicked for men to thirst in their souls to kill almost everything which possesses animal life."