For Matilda Cook, the star of Fever, 1793, "America" means a very specific place: Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, the city of her birth, and the city she very much loves. It's a regular melting pot with exotic goods in the marketplace, the hustle and bustle of the coffeehouse, and the merchants everywhere. When the fever epidemic hits, however, Philadelphia quickly transforms into one giant nightmare. There's looting and illness. People abandon the dead on the streets, and orphans are left to fend for themselves in dark doorways. How will the citizens of Philadelphia respond to such a crisis? Will they rise to the occasion? Sure, there are thieves and looters about, but also think of Eliza and the Free African Society. Or the printer Mr. Brown, who stays in the city to print notices from doctors. And then, of course, there's Matilda – who works tirelessly to care for the twins and Nell when they come down with yellow fever. These people present an optimistic vision of American life and of the gumption and character of the citizens of Philadelphia.
Whether in the city or country, the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 put all Americans to the test.
For better or for worse, Philadelphia will never be the same after the fever outbreak.