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Endorsements of Minnesota as “Exceedingly Bracing” and “ An Asylum for Invalids,” Inspired Hopes to Cure Tuberculosis

Endorsements of Minnesota as “Exceedingly Bracing” and “ An Asylum for Invalids,” Inspired Hopes to Cure Tuberculosis

By Sue Hunter Weir Now that winter is almost over and it”'s still a little too soon for us to start worrying about mosquitoes and humidity, we can take a short break from complaining about the weather. Complaining about the weather is part and parcel of living in Minnesota, but that wasn”'t always the case. There was a time when Minnesota”'s weather was considered one of the state”'s major attractions. After visiting Fort Snelling in the 1820s, President Zachary Taylor, endorsed our “exceedingly bracing” weather and wrote that the area was “probably the healthiest in the nation.” Four decades later, civic boosters wrote pamphlets encouraging people from the East Coast and Europe to move here because of our invigorating weather. Minnesota was, they claimed, an “asylum for invalids,” the perfect place to recover from tuberculosis. Cemetery”'s first burial was due to death from tuberculosis: a disease without cure and contagion unknown. By the middle of the nineteenth century, tuberculosis caused one in five deaths in the United States. Not surprisingly, the first burial in Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery (Layman”'s Cemetery) was Carlton Keith Cressey, a ten-month old boy, who died in 1853 from what was then called “consumption.” Six of the 30 people who were buried in Layman”'s in the 1850s died from consumption. The cause of death for 11 others in that group was not recorded so the number may have been even higher. Although claims that a change in climate had curative powers were overstated, there were no other effective treatments at the time. Doctors did not know that tuberculosis was a contagious disease and had little to offer their patients except advice, including advice to travel to healthier parts of the country. That advice, well intentioned though it may have been, helped spread the disease. Henry David Thoreau and Horace Mann, Jr. [...]

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