Luke Pryor Blackburn. Physician. Philanthropist. Assassin.

by Daniel Russ on May 31, 2012

Post image for Luke Pryor Blackburn. Physician. Philanthropist. Assassin. Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn Dr. Luke Pryor Blackburn


Born in 1816 in Kentucky, Luke Blackburn became a physician. During his practice he became famous for treating Yellow Fever that exploded into epidemiological disasters every few years when construct projects sprang up along rivers. In 1848 he became famous for an effective quarantine of yellow Fever patients that stopped the spread of the disease in Natchez, Mississippi. While there, he petitioned the government to fund free health care clinic along the Mississippi River. When he became the governor of Kentucky he made a point to alleviate the horrible suffering of prisoners in penitentiaries in the state and allowed so many prisoners out that he earned the nickname “Lenient Luke”.


In between those aforementioned events, he attempted to use Yellow Fever as an infecting agent á la biological warfare conducted against the Federal Government of the United States during the Civil War. His idea was to acquire the bed sheets and clothing of Yellow Fever patients and auction them at clothing stores throughout the north.



He recruited an associate, and a southern sympathizer, Godfrey Joseph Hyams.



Hyams was a Confederate double agent and turned him in. Blackburn was in Canada at the time where the plot was supposedly concocted. He was also going to send some of the infected clothing to President Abraham Lincoln from a distant admirer.


A Toronto Court did not convict Dr. Blackburn and he remained in Canada for a good while before returning home. When he did return, he worked pro bono to quell a Yellow Fever out break. He was never pursued or prosecuted when he returned state side, and died in 1887. There was however, enough evidence to easily convict him in another trial, and imprecate the entire Confederate government as well.


Oh, one more thing. It wouldn’t have worked. Dr. Walter Reed discovered that the disease is only spread by a mosquito bite.


Source: Wiki



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