Albion's coast is sick

Mark Harrison

in Medicine in an age of Commerce and Empire

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199577736
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595196 | DOI:
Albion's coast is sick

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Chapter 11 examines the career of the naval physician Thomas Trotter, who claimed that two‐thirds of the population were suffering the ill‐effects of luxury and nervous over‐stimulation. He believed these ills to be hereditary and that the evils of his own generation would be passed on to subsequent ones, weakening a once proud and manly nation. Unlike his contemporary James Johnson, however, Trotter did not aim to ameliorate these problems by prescribing changes to lifestyle: he sought to remove their root causes. In his view, the chief evils of the time were colonial commerce, which had taken over from wholesome agriculture as the main source of national wealth, and the institution of slavery on which this commercial system was based. Trotter advocated not only the abolition of slavery but the abandonment of the sugar colonies, in which many British servicemen had lost their lives from disease.

Keywords: commerce; degeneration; Napoleonic Wars; nervous diseases; Royal Navy; slavery; Thomas Trotter

Chapter.  7685 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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