Beating the Heat 1776 Style

Having trouble remembering why you love the South so darn much? At 100+ degrees outside, we’re all desperately seeking ways to avoid those August summer blues. Well, Dr. Lionel Chalmers has some classic advice for us on keeping our health during these dog days of summer in his 1776 work, An Account of the Weather and Diseases of South Carolina, which is part of the Bruce Cotten Collection here at the NCC.


Chalmers explains why the heat affects us so: “As the air becomes more moist from heat, the watery particles that float therein, enter our bodies along with the fiery ones: and these rendering each other more active are quickly conveyed throughout the system, weakening the solids and resolving the fluids still more.”

There are apparently a whole mess of digestive issues which may arise during this kind of intense heat, most of which I am hesitant to mention. Dehydration becomes an issue, and if you don’t have that Gatorade handy then don’t fret; Dr. Chalmers has some advice on what you should be eating: “The diet in those who are strong, should be rather spare and not heating . . . On the other hand, valetudinarians [the weak], for the most part, require a more spicy spirituous and stimulating regimen.” And be warned; it takes a much greater amount of Peruvian bark to cure fevers in this weather.

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