Since one plague can lead to another…
Dr. Samuel Mudd (1833-1883) comes to mind, remembering the Yellow Fever epidemic that broke out at Fort Jefferson in the Gulf of Mexico, in 1868.
Dr. Mudd was imprisoned there for setting the leg of John Wilkes Booth a day after he shot and killed Abraham Lincoln, breaking it, jumping onto the stage of Ford’s Theater from the balcony where Lincoln sat enjoying the show.
Mudd denied ever meeting Booth before, claiming when he showed up at his farm in Southern Maryland, asking for help, he was just honoring his Hippocratic Oath, or his Hypocritical Oath? It’s hard to believe when you read about it now, that he didn’t at least know, though he kept to his story till he died.
Despite his denials, along with two other alleged Lincoln conspirators, was tried and given a life sentence, escaping the death penalty by one vote.
While incarcerated at Fort Jefferson, the largest military prison of its time, when the fever broke out Mudd volunteered his services after 30 year-old, Joseph Sim Smith, the in-house physician died from it.
Because of his selfless service, President Andrew Johnson, ironically Lincoln’s Vice-President and reluctant successor, granted him a full pardon on February 8, 1869.
Despite efforts from his descendants to clear his name, his conviction was never overturned, leaving the sad legacy of…your name is Mudd, if one is disgraced or disappointing in any way.
The unfortunate part, it’s an expression that was used way before Dr. Mudd was stitched into the fabric of our nation’s history.
The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theater as it looks today.
As far as our pandemic goes, I guess it’s just history repeating itself…sigh