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tv   Civil War Veterans Opiate Addiction  CSPAN  November 29, 2020 10:00am-11:16am EST

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thank you, everybody, for coming. thank you to amy and dan and everybody who made it happen technology wise. onet an honor michelle -- of our colleagues is starting another event. i urge you to tune in. but thank you for coming. >> thank you, guys. >> thank you for merging history and creativity. >> fivbye, everybody. you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. >> jonathan jones of penn state university talks about widespread opiate addiction among civil war veterans. he explains how prescribing opium and morphine, common
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treatments used for wartime injuries, grew into lifetime -- lifelong drug dependence for many. virginia tech center for civil war studies host of the event. they provided a video. >> ok. tonight's event, our speaker is dr. jonathan jones. he is spending this year at penn state's civil war era sent out. that is this year. he is a postdoctoral scholar at penn state. next year in the fall he will take up a new position as assistant professor of history at the virginia military institute. i am really looking forward. and is not too far away from having --ech, so to having dr. jones is a neighbor next fall. he is an expert on civil war history but especially civil war veterans' struggles with opiate addiction. that was the subject of his
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dissertation. he has also published a recent article in the journal of the civil war era. he is working on a book on the topic. this is a topic he knows better than anyone, and we are really fortunate that tonight that is the subject of his talk. he will speak for about 30, 35 minutes thereabouts, and we will have plenty of time for discussion at the end. that way you can engage with discussion with dr. jones is for the q&a feature. we will not be able to turn on attendees' cameras or microphones, we will do everything through the q&a chat box. open it up, type in your question and we will see it. hopefully we will be able to get her all the questions. we will try our hardest before we wrap up around 8:15. the best thing is you can ask your question anytime. we will keep an eye on those and respond to them after the talk as we are able.
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ok. that is all from me. thank you to everyone for being here and special things, of course, to dr. jones. let's give him a warm welcome to this online forum sponsored by the virginia center for civil war studies. thanks for being here. dr. jones: let's start with sort of the big picture. know, inis, as we all the grips of a massive opioid addiction crisis. since the late 1990's, millions of americans have struggled with addiction to opioids. more americans have actually died of opioid overdoses 2017 than since the total number of american soldiers who died in the vietnam war. and this is every year since 2017. a massive public health crisis, and it shows no signs of slowing. in fact this year, the covid , pandemic has only exacerbated the overdose rate and made problems of opioid addiction worse. as a historian, i continually find myself struck by the fact
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that the opiate crisis that the u.s. is experiencing today is framed and talked about in the news as if it is something you, as if it is something that never happened before and is somehow unique to the conditions of life in america today. but as it turns out, this is not the case. the u.s., in fact, has a long history of opioid addiction. the civil war actually caused america's original opiate crisis, although it has been largely forgotten until now. thousands of civil war veterans became addicted to opioid medication's like morphine in the wake of the civil war. like americans today, addicted veterans and their families endured overwhelming suffering because of their opiate addictions. addiction ruined veterans health, it destroyed livelihoods, damaged their reputations. it really tested and strained veterans' relationships with their families.
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and that is something we are going to explore today. in fact, what we are going to do -- what i am going to do today is tell the story of this broader civil war era opioid crisis. but instead of giving you the view from 50,000 feet, the bird's-eye view, i will package it as the story of one family, in particular. a family of fredericksburg, virginia. so i am going to share my slides here and we will get a look at our protagonists. here are our protagonists. this is john and francis, a married couple from fredericksburg, virginia. these are photos taken of them around 1920. they were prominent white , socialites, fixtures on the fredericksburg social scene from the civil war in the 1860's until their deaths in the 1920's.
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their lives in so many ways represent a microcosm of the fuller civil war area, not just the period of addiction crisis. to paint their back story for you john was a first-generation , irish-american, he was a teenaged confederate enlistee. later after the war, he became a fredericksburg lawyer, and a then a city judge for several decades after the war. like so many other elderly, a elite confederate veterans after the war john was also a notable , speaker, and a famous writer on the local virginia lost cause circuit. for example, here in the image on the left, we see john meeting with president warren g. harding on the battlefield site at the wilderness in 1921 as part of this sectional reconciliation project that extended into the early 20th century. frances, or fanny, was also quite famous in her day. she was famous for being a major activist of the lost cause.
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she served as president of fredericksburg, united daughters of the confederacy chapter. if you have been to fredericksburg, you may have seen this obelisk. this is the mary washington monument. fanny was responsible for facing raising the funds used to construct it. here's the interesting thing to me about john and fanny. the john and fanny that we see here in these portraits were, by all accounts, a homer of elite white virginian society after the civil war, in the post-civil war period. they were well-to-do, john was successful in business and civic life. fanny was successful in high society. if you looked up well-adjusted survivors of the civil war in the dictionary, you would find john and fanny. they represented in so many ways the postwar life i think most
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white, ex-confederate southerners aspired to. as in all things, appearances can be deceiving. there was more to the them than meets the eye in these portraits. john and fanny had a dark secret after the civil war. one that they took extreme meures to conceal from the public. john struggled with morphine addiction. to use the parlance of the day, john was enslaved to morphine, which ultimately came to dominate all facets of his personal life in the decades after the civil war, including his marriage wer with fanny. ended up hating john for his addiction, which ultimately tore the family apart in a series of dramatic events that occurred in 1896. so the family we see in the portrait were living a double life after the civil war. success on one hand, on the other hand, a life of opiate addiction lived behind closed doors. i think that is emblematic of
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how a lot of civil war veterans addiction, asate we will come to see. how did this happen to them? how did it come to this? what happened leading up to 1896 that imploded their relationship? what i want to do first is set the stage for fanny and john's postwar struggle by showing how the civil war triggered an epidemic of addiction among veterans like john. we will zoom in on a particular moment in time, the 1860's, to explore the origins of the civil war era opioid crisis. we are going to see how it began. then we are going to jump forward in time by 30 years to the mid-1890's, and a look at how addiction actually affected in dramatic, depressing ways, the lives of civil war veterans like the goodricks. let us start is the beginning, the civil war.
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like all virginians of the civil war generation, their lives were indelibly shaped by the experience having lived through the civil war, which completely upended their worlds. as teenagers, john and fanny lived through the battle of fredericksburg in december of 1862, and when a federal troops descended upon the town determined to cross the river , and stormed through the city, over confederate lines on a hill above the city, john and fanny were literally caught in the crossfire between these two armies, the union and confederate army. most residents fled as union troops advanced through the city of fredericksburg, but fanny and her family stayed behind, hunkered down in her basement. during the battle of fredericksburg, their house, if you are familiar with--joe geography of fredericksburg, it was on charles street, the main street that runs right through fredericksburg, their house was completely obliterated by cannon shot and gunfire.
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so here we see on the slide one of the civil war's most iconic photos, the destroyed houses after the battle of fredericksburg. this is what fanny's house would have looked like. she hid in the basement underneath the house during the battle. ultimately fanny and her family lost everything during the war. they experienced poverty and became war refugees. for his part, john also witnessed the carnage of the battle of fredericksburg. he was slightly too young to fight in it. but the scene was fresh in his mind went a few years later, in may of 1864, at 18 or 19 years old, he enlisted in the local artillery unit called the fredericksburg artillery. the fredericksburg artillery was a hard fighting unit. it was in the thick of the eastern theater of the civil war basically for the entirety of the civil war. before he enlisted, the fredericksburg artillery fought in the campaign fredericksburg, , chancellorsville, gettysburg, the wilderness, all of these highlights of the eastern
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theater, john's regiment was therefore it. after he enlisted in the fredericksburg artillery in 1864, the war only got bloodier. so john went on to fight in bloody fights at cold harbor, petersburg, and ultimately, him few dozenust a survivors of the artillery outfit were present for the surrender of appomattox in april of 1865. like so many veterans, john strobel with morphine began with a bullet wound that he sustained at petersburg. john was shot through the left side well defending the confederate position here at fort harrison, a key segment of the defensive network around the city of richmond. in september of 1864, federal troops stormed the trying to fourth, push through the defenses and become fully overran john's unit defending fort harrison. it turned into a bloody, hand-to-hand combat mayhem.
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somehow, john managed to survive. his comrades drag the wounded 18-year-old or 19-year-old soldier back to a confederate field hospital, probably just a few hundred yards from the front lines. at the field hospital, which would have looked something like this image on the top left surgeons managed to stop the , bleeding from john's thigh and bandaged up the wand, but john and get better. although lee was completely desperate for men, even wounded ones at this point would do, john was simply too injured to patch up and immediately be sent to the front. instead, confederate surgeons sent him back into richmond to be treated at this massive, 8000 -bed confederate hospital, which we see in the bottom image. that is where he was introduced to morphine, at the hospital in richmond. john spent a month and a half at the hospital. during this time, doctors would
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have given him repeated doses of morphine every day, as much as they could spare, and as we all know, morphine is an addictive a painkiller. the longer you take morphine, the more likely you are to become addicted to it. here's where our story gets really interesting for me. the civil war, if we sit back and think about the scale of the civil war and civil war medicine, the civil war was truly a massive health crisis. it was the biggest health crisis in american history up to that point, and there were millions of people in john's shoes suffering from painful wounds and sicknesses. of war caused a huge influx sickness, gunshot wounds. to put a number of it, there were about 1.5 million recorded casualties out of 31 million americans. almost everyone would have known someone like john, someone who got injured or sick during the civil war. american doctors were heading into the civil war, were very inexperienced at dealing with this kind of medicine. they had never seen or dealt
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with anything like this before. most of them weren't trained to handle traumatic injuries like a gunshot wound. so to deal with this unprecedented unexpected medical , crisis of the civil war, american doctors basically doubled down on the most basic medical therapies they had available to them in their toolkit, which at this point, were prescription opiates. doctors have been using opiate medicines for thousands of years. the greeks used to them. the romans used to them. the ancient egyptians used them. fast forward to 1861, opium and its derivatives were actually the most common prescribed medication in the u.s., present in somewhere between 50% and 80% of all prescriptions in the civil war era u.s. they were ubiquitous medicines. opium had a lot of upsides. that's why it was so popular.
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it came from a plant, so it was easy to get and make medicine with. you could literally grow it. it was simple to turn into more powerful versions of itself, such as morphine or laudanum, which were liquid preparations of opium. opium could also be ground up into a powder and mixed together with other kinds of drugs to make various different medicines. it could be injected as a liquid. it could be swallowed as powder. by the way, the civil war popularized the hypodermic needle in the u.s. when during the war, union soldiers learn how to use hypodermic syringes to inject morphine just under the skin. and i am happy to talk more about that in q&a. civilare actual bona fide war prescriptions that contained opiates, to illustrate what i am getting at here. civil war surgeons used opium and morphine for practically everything. for example, here in the image with red underlines, we see opiates being prescribed for things like dysentery, and a condition known as chronic diarrhea.
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these were actually some of the more common ailments of the civil war, and pulverized opium was the main remedy. causesit turns out, constipation, or as one doctor put it, opium "corks up the bowels," which is a pleasant way to describe opium's effects on the bowels. so surprisingly, the most common use of opiates during the war was actually to stop diarrhea. surgeons also gave hypodermic morphine shots and morphine pills and powders to treat the pain that stemmed from gunshot wounds and amputations, and that is what happened in john's case. american doctors knew going into the civil war that opiates were addictive, when they were used for chronic conditions like pain. if you read antebellum medical journals, you will find the ,eports of opiate addiction doctors describing cases of addiction that they encountered.
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so this was common knowledge among american doctors, that if you prescribed opium for a certain amount of time, chances are they become addicted to the drug. and it took months and months to heal from the kind of gunshot wounds or amputations that we see here in the photo, or that john endured at petersburg. many men actually never recovered. surgeons knew that when they prescribed morphine to soldiers for weeks on end, they would likely develop tolerance to the drug and eventually develop cases of full-blown addiction. but the simple fact is that doctors had no choice. there were no medical alternatives to opiates. and the medicines were absolutely essential if surgeons were basically going to patch soldiers are and send them back to the front lines. the confederate army medical handbook put it like this "opium , is the one indispensable drug on the battlefield. important to the surgeon as gunpowder to the ordinance." i think any civil war soldier would have understood that metaphor. opiates were very important. unsurprisingly, considering how
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widespread they were during the war, countless civil war veterans became addicted to opiates. some men became addicted to morphine and opium during the war, in hospitals, like where john was treated for a gunshot wound in 18 64. other men developed their addictions after returning home from the army through the practice of self-medication. when you go to a pharmacy today and ask for any kind of prescription medicine in the u.s., you have to have your dr. doctor issue your prescription. you can't just buy narcotics over-the-counter. but that did not exist during the civil war. there were no regulations on opiates until the 20th century. you could simply walk into a pharmacy or general store and purchase as much as he wanted for as long as you wanted to buy it. this is how often times veterans got addicted. they continued purchasing the medicine that the surgeons had
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given them during the army. a bit of self-medication and prescription opiates. it's not clear exactly when john became addicted to morphine, but considering the nature of his wound, it was probably early on, during the late 1860's, shortly after the war, when it was the wound was relatively fresh. every time john walked, every time he stepped on the ground, he would have felt probably pain shooting up his thigh. so you can imagine the level of pain that he must have been dealing with. when we think it through, it is easy to see how someone like him john could become addicted to prescription morphine to dull the pain and make life bearable. during the postwar decades after the war during the 1860's, 1870's, and 1880's, it became abundantly clear to american doctors, newspaper reporters, government officials north and south, that civil war veterans like john had become addicted by the thousands. and this growing epidemic of opiate addiction among veterans actually raised real alarm bells
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in the wake of the civil war. if you flip through newspapers dating from this period, government reports, medical journals, chances are you will encounter oblique and sometimes even direct references to civil war veterans who were addicted to opiates and the problems associated with opiate addiction. in virginia, in their home state after the civil war, the addiction crisis was particularly severe. for example, in 1878, the new york times ran a piece on the drug problem in the shenandoah valley, which had been devastated by the civil war, as many of you know, when union and confederate forces surged across .he valley the valley was also home to many civil war survivors like john and fanny. according to the times, "it is deplorable to observe how the evil has increased in the valley
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since the civil war." the evil they were referring to was opiate addiction. in fact, opiate addiction became, it seemed practically contagious, according to the times. the times drew these implicit comparisons between opiate addiction and cholera and smallpox, diseases spread from person-to-person. quote, "one man sees another using this terrible drug and before he is aware of it, he is eating opium himself," the times warned. " the evil of opiate addiction is like an epidemic, it is in the atmosphere of the valley and the united states after the civil war." the times went so far as to label one city, the city of stanton, as one of the valley's "the great opium city of the country." it had a particularly high population of people addicted to opium and morphine. in fact, one pharmacist in
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stanton claimed to have sold almost 80,000 doses of morphine in the previous year leading up to the times' story. that is a lot of morphine for a town of 6600 people. you can get a sense of kind of the spiraling scale of this is growing and growing after the civil war to the point that the government and newspapers are starting to take notice. in particular, the state government of virginia was worried about the opium problem. so worried, in fact, that it took a radical step in 1876 and it actually opened a dedicated hospital for, quote, "the reclamation of opium eaters and other kinds of people with substance abuse problems." it opened in richmond in 1876, the pinel hospital. it was the first of many. was the firstital of many. in the next couple of decades, there were dozens of similar facilities around the nation. veterans would often time travel to this facilities, hopefully find treatment for their opiate addictions. you could also find treatment at a mental asylum. this was particularly a problem
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in virginia. you could actually be committed to a mental asylum for your addiction if you lost control of yourself. so facilities like the western lunatic asylum in stanton, another reason why stanton was called "the great opium city of the day." they took in dozens of cases of opiate-addicted civil war veterans after the civil war who simply couldn't seem to shake what was called "the opium habit" on their own after leaving the army and taking off their uniforms. beginning in the 1860's, asylums like western state all around the nation saw this huge spike in commitments for opiate addiction. i think of these facilities, facilities like western state, pinel hospital after the civil war, like america's first drug rehabs. in asylums and facilities, veterans would usually be weaned off of opiates over a two week or a month period, and hypothetically released.
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i would add here that although we focus so far on the shenandoah valley in west virginia, and by no means was the problems of opiate addiction unique to virginia, it was a national problem. for example, in 1872, the massachusetts board of health began investigating the problem of opiate addiction in cities like boston. they found a boston pharmacist who attested that, quote "veteran soldiers as a class are , addicted to opiates." so there was this reputation among pharmacists, doctors, that civil war veterans were prone to being addicted to opiates. 17 years later, another massachusetts dr. repeated that claim, evidence that the problem persisted for a long time after the civil war. he told the board of health "among the veterans of the war, a very large number of people are still suffering from chronic diarrhea, and as might be expected, some have become opium another
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19th-century term for addiction. the situation went on for decades. when a say decades -- when i say decades, i mean decades. one might assume that after the civil war, veterans often times overdosed as a consequence of their addiction. in the worst immediate aftermath, lots of veterans did overdose on opium and morphine. you see this in a newspaper obituaries, coroners papers, and things like that from the 1860's and 1870's. but some veterans survived for years and years with their addictions. for example, one union veteran, a guy named harry bowser, became addicted to morphine in a vicksburg army hospital in 18 64. he described the circumstances that led him to addiction to the u.s. pension bureau when he was trying to apply for a pension, which he ultimately never got. fast-forward to 1915, about 50 years after the civil war, and bowser died of "chronic mo
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phiniam" in indiana. that means this guy ultimately lived two thirds of his life addicted to morphine. that's a long time. for veterans like bowser and ultimately fell into this category, opiate addiction was a lifelong disability. something that never went away. for what it's worth, i wasn't at actuallyprised how long addiction could last. it was really a long-term health consequence of the civil war. for me, i think that was one of the key payoffs of looking into this topic. it shows that the civil war's health crisis wasn't just contained or compartmentalized into the 1860's. the civil war started a health crisis that lasted in many cases for a generation, even into the 20th century, it was a long-term health crisis. anyway, back to john and fanny. this is how the civil war's health crisis spawned this epidemic of drug addiction among veterans. and that is the backdrop in
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which our two protagonists, john and fanny goodrick found themselves in the late 1860's. but what did addiction actually look like in the daily lives of veterans and their families? what did addiction mean to people, and what did it cost them in their postwar lives? to answer these questions, we are going to jump forward in time about 30 years to the year 1896, which was a dramatic year in the lives of john and fanny. as they learned the hard way, the cost of opiate addiction were twofold. on the one hand, opiate addiction was a medical condition that had really dangerous serious, , life-threatening health consequences. but on the other hand addiction , was also deeply stigmatized. it detracted from one's masculinity, it made people like john look like they were bad people, so they lost sight of their reputation in their community. in other words it was a dual
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crisis, a health crisis and the social crisis for veterans, too. to give you an example, the way that addicted veterans like john actually looked and acted were interpreted by onlookers like fanny, for example, as being the opposite of how true man should look and act. take for example dependency. often times we refer to addiction as drug dependency. addiction veterans like john needed to swallow or inject opiates every day sometimes , multiple times a day, just to function, just to get through the day. they were, quite literally, dependent on opiates to survive. but during the civil war era, standard behavior for white males like john goodrick posited that men should be in control. they were supposed to be independent, able to make a decision to simply quit opium, follow-through with that and end their addiction. but opiate addiction, or opium slavery, as it was referred to in the media, made living up to these standards that demanded independence and self-control quite impossible.
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were feeding, so addiction was really the opposite -- quit addiction was really the opposite of independence. consider pain relief. for me, this was one of the more interesting facets of opium addiction and how people live with it. views of pain during the civil war or different from the ideas about pain today. according to civil war era medicine, not all people's bodies were supposed to need painkillers to get by. it was thought by most american doctors that only white women wear supposed to have sensitive enough bodies to actually need painkillers for long periods of time. men, according to the medical knowledge of the day, were supposed to be stoic, grit their teeth, and tough out the pain without actually needing to take painkillers. so when people like john reached for the morphine bottle day after day after the civil war to cope with their lingering wartime injuries, it made them
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look weak, quite simply. it made them look unwilling to bear the pain they were supposed to be able to handle as true men. in other words, they seemed unmanly. that's how people perceived them. to make matters worse, people also associated drug addiction with deceitfulness and unreliability and lies. addiction made one seem immoral, almost as if you were a bad person because of your addiction. this will probably sound familiar to many of you, because this is one of the predominant modes of interpreting addiction today in modern america still. in fact, people like john did to -- did take great lengths to keep their addictions private, their conditions secret from the outside world. the fact that they hid or disguised their conditions only contributed to the idea that people who were addicted to morphine were inherently liars, inherently immoral and bad people. by the way, because addiction was seen as immoral, union is ones -- this
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difference between the experience of union and confederate veterans with addiction -- union veterans lost out on things like pension s and the precursor to the v.a., and i'm happy to talk more about that. that did not necessarily apply to john, because he was not eligible for most kinds of programs. it did hurt his reputation in the community. opiate abuse also destroyed veterans' bodies and health. it had serious physical consequences. it would cause impotence, fatigue, addiction. it also made one susceptible to certain infection that could kill you. one of the most compelling examples for me of the ripple effects of addiction in one's life during this time period was weight loss, or emaciation. people who take opioids for long periods of time suffer from a really extreme, dramatic, visually dramatic weight loss. you see this in the medical records of civil war veterans like john. some veterans lost 50, 60
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pounds. they literally appeared skeletal in the eyes of their wives, families, doctors, and that's part of why addiction was so scary. it entailed this dramatic visual transformation. one addicted veteran put it like this. "physicaled his manhood" as a wreck, a shell when he was addicted to morphine. john would have felt that way, as well. extreme weight loss was dangerous in its own right. it has been linked by modern doctors to an elevated risk of infections and death. but it was more than just a medical effect of addiction. emaciation also signaled that addicted people, addicted veterans like john, were unmanly. another way that addiction changed how people thought about you as a person. this was, after the civil war, a period in american history where a man's body image was inextricably linked to how manly he was. men were supposed to be these
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barrel-chested, strong, almost like teddy roosevelt-looking dudes. so this kind the left. i took the image out of a life insurance manual, according to the company, the biggest, most stout guys being the manliest, therefore the most insurable. addicted veterans appeared to be these ghastly, thin shells of their former, pre-civil war selves. there were the opposite of manly. like the man you see on the right, who was not a civil war veteran, but it's one of the only photos of a person addicted to morphine that i found dating from this time period. as you can imagine, when you add this up, eventually, opiate addiction got bad enough that veterans became unable to work. when this happened, it also started to affect the lives of their wives and children. for example, when a veteran
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became unable to work, there spouses -- to work, their spouses were forced to step in and take over the breadwinning role and make income for the family. by dependency, emaciation, the inability to bear pain, this consequence really represented an inversion of prevailing cultural ideals. civil war era gender norms dictated women were supposed to handle the family affairs, and men were supposed to make the money to support, to act as the breadwinner. but this was not and could not be the case in veteran families like the gulricks. men like john eventually became physically unable to support themselves. i found one case that of a union veteran. case, that of a union veteran, who was no longer able to work, whose wife had to resort to prostitution to support herself after years of his opiate addiction. so it can take a really dramatic
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turn for their families. when you add all this up, addiction created a tremendously stressful situation for people like the goodricks. between the fatigue, impotence, weight loss, the husband not working, this was all destined to end in a crisis point, a big blowup between veterans and their families. and that is exactly what happened to john and fanny in 1896. by that point, 30 years after the civil war, john was in dire , dire straits. three decades of morphine addiction left him thin, emaciated, probably impotent. he was -- in his letters, he describes himself as being unable to focus. he suffered from a debilitating lack of energy and would sleep for long periods of time. he eventually lost his law practice during the 1890's, his ability to bring money in and -- in the money to support fanny and her children. he was thin, in bad health, literally on the verge of death. perhaps even worse in elite southern society, he lost all claims to manliness and honor. right?
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considering everything the morphine had cost john, john naturally swore up and down that he would quit the morphine. at one point, he tried quitting cold turkey. he tried simply to stop taking opium and endure the withdrawal process without medical assistance. naturally this approach failed, just as it did for most veterans. most try to multiple times to -- most tried multiple times to quit using the cold turkey approach, and almost inevitably failed. when they failed, they felt awful about themselves. they grew desperate. eventually, john grew desperate enough to quit the morphine that he turned to patent medicine, so-called snake oil medicine. this was a major business in post-civil war america. the civil war spawned an industry devoted to curing opiate addiction for the first time in american history. that speaks to how big the crisis was after the civil war. there were so many addicted
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veterans that there was this industry of medicines to promise medicines, quack cures, dedicated to supposedly curing them of their addiction. after the civil war, shady, bad faith doctors invented these miracle cures for opium addiction and marketed them to veterans in magazines and newspapers. we see some of those advertisements on the slide here. my favorite was a brand called painless opium antidote. it was invented by a civil war veteran himself. he would have seen how his fellow soldiers got addicted to morphine, spotted a business opportunity, and stepped in and made some money. it made him a fortune. john tried one of the more curear brands, brand, a called the "gold cure." we see this here, the third image from the top of a newspaper clipping. most of these cures, they actually contained opium, the ingredient they were promising
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to cure or rid the person who consumed the medicine of. this is quite literally medical fraud. needless to say, just like the cold turkey method, this approach failed john as well. it was a gigantic waste of money, which they were already running very low on in 1896 after years of john not being able to work at full steam. it illustrates how desperate john was to quit. he was willing to try anything. by this point, their situation was looking very grim. the tension between john and fanny was mounting, and it was increasingly obvious to fanny, as much as she wanted to avoid this, it was increasingly clear to her that john was not just going to be able to quit morphine, probably ever. certainly not under his own self-control. one day in february of 1896, this situation exploded. on that day, fanny returned home
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to their house in fredericksburg from an afternoon out on the town, when she opened the front door to come inside. she swung the door open and saw john slumped over a piece of furniture in what she described as a morphine daze. now, keep in mind john had promised to quit, and here he was again under the influence of morphine. she could not rouse him, get him to stand up. so fanny, she snapped. after years and years of john's broken promises to quit the drug, the family trying to hide this from the public, an inversion of the way the world was supposed to work, according to people like them, fanny simply could not take it anymore. she had enough and wanted a divorce. fanny ran upstairs, leaving john on the floor of their foyer, and penned this dramatic series of emotional letters to her family members in the time john was under the influence of morphine. for example, in one of her letters to her brother, she
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described her plan to abandon john and dissolve the marriage. this letter shows how opiate took its toll on couples. as fanny explained in the letter, "there's no dependence to be put in john. what can i do? if only he could break off this horrible habit, but it seems he cannot. -- cannot." soon she added "john will have gotten over the effects of whatever he took him and will beg and implore me not to do this, not to leave him, but i must, i must, for i can bear neither for myself or my children this life any longer. i am obliged to leave him. i can see nothing else to do." again, for someone to so openly explain this to one of their relatives, something they had been trying to keep secret forever, really shows how tense the situation had become. finally, their relationship literally snapped. fanny flees the house.
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she immediately leaves their house in fredericksburg, goes a few miles up the road to washington, d.c., and refuses to ever speak to john again. she wrote a series of scathing, angry letters to all of their relatives explaining her plan to get a divorce, her rationale for why she wanted to get a divorce, and the family lost it, they freaked out. they knew -- some of them knew that john had a substance abuse problem, but most did not. those who were privy to their secret did not realize how bad it actually was. for example, john and fanny's cadet at junior, was a the virginia military institute. he lost it when he heard the news his parents were getting a divorce and why they were getting a divorce. he wrote his mom a series of desperate letters in return, saying he would quit school, get a job, support her, and they would never speak to dad again. so this really imploded the family. meanwhile, fanny seized control of the family's bank account, got a lawyer, and prepared to file for a divorce.
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we see this disruption of gender roles. this was a big step for a society lady in 1896 virginia. the social ramifications of getting a divorce and having the secrets leaked out into the newspaper gossip columns would have been huge. this was essentially the nuclear option for fanny. luckily for his sake, john's brother stepped in and talked fanny down off the ledge. that left the question of what to do with john. there were a couple of different options you could do to help civil war veterans theoretically overcome their opiate addictions, but none were effective. one option they considered was institutionalization. they talked about sending him to the western state lunatic asylum in stanton. they were afraid to come as family -- they were afraid to come as fanny explained to her sister-in-law, that this would get leaked to the papers and cause a ruckus in the press.
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instead of divorce or institutionalization, the family came up with a third option. they would simply take john, lock him in a room, remove all of the morphine, medical implements, from the room, and force him to detox. he would emerge either dead or cured. that's how badly this situation had devolved into. that's what they did. they sent him to his brother's farmhouse near fredericksburg, literally locked him in a room for several months. they hired nurses and guards to watch him 24 hours a day while he detoxed cold turkey. you imagine the suffering it -- suffering that that would have entailed. -- i want tows jump forward a few years, and give away the tragic ending. none of this ultimately helps. eventually, fanny and john got back together. she never did divorce him. after about a year of living with his brother, the two reunited. but john soon relapsed. he never was able to be rid of the morphine habit.
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10 ands from 1901, 19 1970 -- indicate he started 1917 using the morphine again, and it got to the press. in 1915, fanny was so ashamed of his morphine habit, she ultimately had to resign her presidency of her local udc chapter. it harmed her social reputation, as well. that illustrates the various ripple effects addiction could have on the family. one of john and fanny's sons, john junior, the cadet at virginia military institute, also became addicted to morphine. there is to suggest this was an intergenerational problem. it did not just stop with john, it persisted into the 20th century perhaps. this was ultimately an extremely dramatic and tragic story for the family, just like for the broader group of civil war veterans that struggled with opiate addiction in the wake of the civil war.
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when all is said and done, what do we make of this story? what can they teach us about opiate addiction in the civil war and american history at -- history writ large? i think the saga of john and francis goodrick, and their dramatic life and death, teaches a few key lessons about the civil war era and the opiate -- opioid crisis particularly. the fact they had such a polished life, the life we see in these portraits, but a tragic private life behind closed doors, from my perspective, it really undercuts the usual take on veterans. often times, people like john who survived the civil war are pretrade as being well-adjusted, that the war was a blip in time for them, they survived and moved on with their lives and thrived after. that's not what happened here. even though john and fanny gave the appearance, the illusion that they were thriving, in reality, they were struggling. they were barely getting by, and
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eventually, their relationship imploded. i think that's the case for a lot of civil war veterans who struggled with opiate addiction and other disabilities. that was the first lesson. veterans were not as they seemed. second, i think the story teaches us the u.s. has a very long history, 150 years of history, of opioid crises. again, the first of these crises was triggered by the civil war itself, and 150 years later, we are in the grips of another opioid addiction crisis. so perhaps there is something cyclical about opiate addiction in america. in that case, we really need to think about how to move forward to prevent these kinds of recurring opioid crisis cycles. finally, there are troubling personal legacies of addiction you can see in the goodrick story after the civil war, and in the lives of people who struggle with opioid abuse disorder today. then and now, addiction was usually caused by doctor's
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prescriptions. in both cases, addiction was stigmatized, so much so, it resulted in all kinds of negative outcomes for addicted people. so ultimately, really not that much has changed, to put it bluntly. ultimately, the goolric ks'experience challenges that we think we know about veterans, and it provides new, troubling historical context for today's opioid crisis. thanks for listening in. and i think we will open up to questions. >> yes, thank you very much. that was fascinating. really enjoyed it. we have great questions coming and already from the audience. i want to encourage everyone to keep typing in questions. we will get to as many as we can, as i said at the start. i'll start off with one . one attendee is asking about the concept of addiction, speculating it probably wasn't a -- it wasn't very widely known
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in the mid-19th century. did people talk about addiction, or did they use vaguer terms like sickness or immorality to describe the condition? dr. jones: this is interesting, because when i started this research, i assumed the knowledge, medical knowledge and pop-culture knowledge about addiction, would have been nonexistent in the mid-19th century. they did not have the benefit of modern science. they did not understand brain chemistry, things we know about opioid addiction today. but what i found in the evidence is the opposite was true. 19th century americans were observant people. they understood a lot more than we give them credit for about addiction. first of all, sometimes they actually used the word addiction to describe opiate addiction. you see that word pop up in government reports, pension records of addicted civil war veterans are sometimes literally described as being addicts or addicted. there were a variety of other terms used to describe addiction and some of those i used today also. sometimes in the popular media,
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newspapers, and magazines, it was often called the opium habit, or opium eating. the concept of addiction was clear. doctors knew, if you read through the medical literature of the day, medical journals and case reports, doctors widely understood as early as the 1820's that you could be literally dependent on opiates, and you would become so after two or three weeks or so taking the drug. they knew it was extremely difficult to quit the drug. even before the civil war, american doctors realized the cold turkey method, straight up not taking morphine and trying that strategy to quit. they realized that that wouldn't work. i was very surprised to learn how much of addiction they understood. yes, they didn't understand that opiate addiction, or opioids changed the way the brain works, that it rewires your brain, which is something we understand today. they understood the other stuff, you could be addicted, that it was awful, and difficult to fix.
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>> great. thank you. i would have assumed the question implied there wasn't the same kind of understanding. sounds like it was different, but not so different, because -- different as you might expect. kirsten is asking a question i'm also intrigued by. how did you come across the golricks? dr. jones: that's a great question. it was an accident. one of the things people who struggled with opiate addiction in the civil war era tried hard to do was keep it a secret. they did not want the outside world to know they were addicted. for a lot of people, that meant quite literally not writing about addiction in their letters. it is extremely difficult to find cases of opiate addiction both among civil war veterans and nonveterans in the late 19th century, because there were all kinds of ramifications.
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if word got out, your name might be put in the paper, and you might be described as an opioid -- opium eater. that carried moral connotations that made you look like a bad person and less than manly, things like that. so they have the distinction of being one of the only cases i have ever found in civil war letters. civil war letters -- these are sort of the major traditional sources scholars have turned to so often when we want to understand something, things about the lives of divorced -- of civil war soldiers and veterans, but if you use only civil war letters and diaries to investigate this phenomenon of addiction, you will come up with nothing. after a couple of years of working on this project in grad school, i stumbled across this letter collection of a civil war lricks.called the go it was my last ditch effort to discover a case of addiction in these sources that i had no luck with.
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lo and behold, they wrote very frankly about addiction in these -- fanny's letters. so i stumbled across these letters from 1896, where fanny is describing how she has come to really resent john, and she will file for a divorce for that reason, and all the different things we talked about tonight. what really struck me about the -- this case and why i can't get it out of my head is how -- she wrote about it so openly. for me, the fact she was so willing to eventually go to her family and tell all shows how bad the situation had really become. essentially, her relationship, the relationship between john and fanny had broken down to the point where she had to loop in all these outsiders by writing these open letters. letters in the 19th century were not like private text messages. we think of -- when we text somebody today, hopefully -- we assume the text goes to the one person and stays between two people. sometimes that's not the case. in the 19th century, letters could be circulated widely,
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they could be and sent other -- sent to other family members, read out loud in people's living rooms. sometimes it could be exposed in the papers. it was a risky step for fanny to take. to sum it all up, that's how i randomly discovered fanny and john's story, but it stuck with me, because it is so rare for this kind of thing to be openly discussed in the letters in the way it was with them. >> that's great. i'm glad you did discover those. it's a really nice dimension of your talk. i liked the way you hung the framework of the story around their experiences. that worked really nicely. ian stevenson is wondering what kind of evidence you found, if any, of veterans taking opiates for treating psychological ailments, as opposed to the physical ailments you focused on in your talk. dr. jones: great question. i think one of the recent trends for historians has been to look at these psychological wounds that came out of the civil war.
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after the civil war in the 1860's and 1870's, there was a spike in suicide in the u.s. new -- in the u.s., for example. that suggests veterans and suffered from things like depression and ptsd. i spent a lot of time looking in mental asylum records, like the asylum in stanton, western state. you see a lot of that in those sources. a lot of civil war veterans did self medicate for what appeared to have been things like depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. for example, one guy i write book, called -- he just went by george. i don't know his last name. but this guy george was described by a group of civil war surgeons who wrote up his case report for a medical journal during the civil war. they described him as a -- as self-medicating with morphine every time he would go into a battle. right before battle, he would swallow morphine powders, and it
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-- and they wrote about how it would make them feel elated. for me, it implies he was scared about going into battle, was scared of the concept of dying, took morphine, and turned almost into a super soldier. there is evidence to suggest -- like an emotional super soldier. he was able to cope with the experience of battle. there is some evidence that suggests some veterans became addicted that way. george was addicted to morphine and that's how this case arose to the attention of doctors. there's a lot of troubling evidence to that effect. >> yeah. thank you. john walter is wondering about the supply of opiates. where was it coming from? he is asking were the opium laws of the mid-19th century relevant to your story? dr. jones: absolutely. the events going on with the post civil war opioid crisis in the late 19th century u.s. from
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the 60's into the 1890's was one event in a dramatic series of 19th century events related to opium. opium was all over the news, all over the global news, in the 19th century world. most opium came from -- at this point in time, most opium came from afghanistan and india. it was grown in some parts of asia and shipped through these international shipping lines, often times through china. then it was brought back to american port cities like new york, boston, and san francisco, through american merchant vessels. almost all opium during this time period was imported. consequently, you see if you look in the coroner's record of places like new york city, they had a very elevated rate of people who died of opiate overdoses compared to more rural parts. it seems that some places had more opium than others. i think most people who are tuning in might know the u.s. during the civil war blockaded the confederates, the anaconda
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plan, and it did get pretty effective eventually. if you look at confederate hospital supply records from 1860 4, 1860 five, morphine was quite scarce in some parts of the confederacy. in places like field hospitals, or there was a hospital in charlottesville that had acute supply shortages. probably they ran out of morphine. but other places, i have learned from looking at their medical records, the prescriptions i put up on the screen, that even into the part of the war where we think there were really acute medical supply shortages, there still enough -- there was still enough morphine to give to wounded soldiers. confederate surgeons prescribed opiates at about the same rate as union surgeons. about 50% of prescriptions written during the civil war were for opiates. it was consistent with the prewar levels, too. i'm obsessed with tracing the global route of opium.
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as the question implied, there was also a series of wars fought between great britain and china over the sale of opium. so it was also -- this is part of a bigger global story that deals with themes like colonialism. it's almost as if the more you pull on the thread of opiate addiction, the darker the story gets, in a lot of ways. >> yeah. fascinating to think about the connections between these very powerful individual stories and this global network of trade and supply that they were meshed -- enmeshed in. dr. jones: absolutely. it's one of the more troubling things, because if you look at the medical records that emerged from france in the 1870's, france fought a war -- i'm blanking out on the name -- but france got into a war in 1871. i looked at french surgical records dating from the war, and you see cases of morphine
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addiction popping up, as well. i think there is something about the use of opioids in modern war that leads to these crises. some food for thought. >> doug pfeiffer asks about the proportion of soldiers experiencing diseases like dysentery, for example, versus the proportion that suffered battlefield wounds, and that we might also look back to the earlier question of psychological scars and trials as well. were diseases like dysentery a major factor driving people towards widespread addiction? do you have a sense of the general proportion? i'm sure you don't have numbers for these things. dr. jones: absolutely, this is a very unglamorous answer. by far the most common bothmstance in which
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soldiers, civilians, and veterans would take morphine was for diarrhea. one of the common treatments for diarrhea was any version of opium. laudanum was something most women kept in the household and give to their children when they suffered from diarrhea and other complaints. by my reckoning, and it's difficult to count out the exact number because of how difficult it is to trace this problem. but by my guesswork, somewhere around 75% of cases that i looked at began their pathway to opiate addiction through taking laudanum asphine or a medicine for diarrhea. really unglamorous way to develop and opiate addiction. you are medicating for diarrhea, in 20 down -- 20 years -- diarrhea, and 20 years down the
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road, you are addicted to morphine. it's not a good medical existence in the civil war era. but a lot of people did get addicted through the use of opiates to treat things like battlefield injuries. for example, i found one of the cases that's always stuck with me that i encountered a few years ago in a medical journal called the boston medical and surgical journal, was a case of a civil war soldier that spent -- soldier who spent all four years of the civil war in a union army hospital in philadelphia. early in the war, he actually got run over by a train. so you can imagine the level of pain this guy would have been dealing with. so he was in the hospital for four years. during that time, he never saw combat. he never got to join his regiment. but instead, he endured six different surgeries. the first was to amputate a leg, to deal with the injury resulting from being run over by a train. the subsequent surgeries were to
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fix the botched first surgery. each surgery, this guy gets more and more pain. 1865,the end of it, by his surgeon, a famous surgeon called silas weir mitchell, a famous neurologist, he wrote about this guy being severely addicted to morphine, so much so he refused to leave the hospital because he was afraid he would get more morphine to medicate with. there was a lot of addiction, both from diarrhea and from things like gunshot wounds and other mishaps that could have occurred to you in the army. >> right, thank you. one attendee asked this question about the stigmatization that you talked about. you know, opiate addicts experienced, in the eyes of the
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community around them, often family members. have you come across evidence that it was a different kind of story within the community of veterans? did they look on it in a more kindly way when they were addicted to opiates? dr. jones: absolutely. this is something i spend a good deal of my book dealing with. it's especially apparent in the north. the north, the u.s. federal government after the civil war, had a massive pension scheme to pay recompense to civil war veterans, at first those who were disabled by the war and as you go through the 19th century, the pension program gets bigger and more and more kinds of veterans eventually get pensions, even those who are too old to work anymore or just old. so, the federal government paid out millions of pensions for -- to civil war veterans and their families. the interesting part, and here's my answer to the question.
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by the 1890's, a huge constellation of things could enable you to claim a pension from the federal government. you could simply be old, like i said. and you could say i'm too old to care for myself. i wasn't wounded, but that's ok. i am now old and since i was in the service, the federal government should pay me and my family recompense. but interestingly enough, for the longest time, until the 20th century, civil war opiate addiction disqualified veterans from pensions. i found numerous cases where the pension bureau went out of its way to deny pensions to civil war veterans who would otherwise have qualified for a pension, like they lost an arm or leg. they were completely debilitated. but the pension bureau found out through medical exams these individuals were addicted to morphine. that was so stigmatized, it outweighed the other stuff. it outweighed the other factors that made them deserving of a pension. it was a really seriously stigmatized condition.
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eventually, in the mid-1890's, a group of union army veterans -- not really a group, but a collection of people who resented being excluded from the pension scheme and other kinds of charitable things that targeted and supported civil war veterans in the north. eventually, there was enough of a backlash against the stigmatization that a group of veterans demanded the federal government start providing medical care for opiate addicted civil war veterans. and i think 1896, the federal government actually opened a clinic, what was called a soldiers home. v.a., alike the precursor to the v.a., where union veterans would go and live in their old age and receive free food, medical care, lodging, things like that. in kansas, in the late 1890's, the federal government operated a morphine addicted treatment
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-- or fiend addiction treatment clinic that catered to union army veterans. even though there was a huge amount of stigmatization and real discrimination against people that had, through no fault of their own, substance abuse problems after the civil war, there was this smaller but concerted movement to push back against that, to get help to civil war veterans who needed it. and particularly, i think elements of the federal government were active in that too. paul: very interesting, thank you. so rob stevens asks about the fact that by the 1890's and into the 1920's, most opiate users were women. he is interested in how you understand this transformation from civil war veterans to middle and upper-class women using opiates. dr. jones: this is really interesting. for me, this is one of the darker parallels between today's opioid crisis and the post-civil war opioid crisis. for most of the -- so addiction was actually pretty widespread in 19th-century america. there are lots of people
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addicted to opiates. -- were lots of people addicted to opiates. actually, scholars who have done digging into quantifying and looking at the demography of addiction in the 19th century have discovered probably most people addicted to morphine were actually women. usually they were white women who were, as i mentioned in the talk, thought to have, according to the medical knowledge of the need painkillers more than other people because they were seen as having frailer bodies. white women were overwhelmingly prescribed these medications at higher rates than white men. so for these reasons, we think probably most people in the 19th century who were addicted to opiates were white women, which are not civil war veterans. but those cases did not bother doctors necessarily. this is the troubling aspect of this for me. i found lots of cases, women who were addicted to opium in the
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1830's and 1840's, and doctors published case reports in medical journals. they write about it as being a medical problem, but it's not this huge cultural problem. it's not something that warranted opening drug addiction rehab clinics at the taxpayer's expense. it's not something that was enough to get reported on in the newspapers. it was limited to the medical. but after the civil war, starting literally in 1863, 1864, you start to see a media panic, government panic, medical panic, about all these guys who are all of a sudden addicted en masse to opioids for the first time. -- to opiates for the first time in u.s. history. addiction goes from being really widespread, but almost a nonissue because doctors aren't that bothered because of the people who are addicted, to being red alert, alarm bells glaring. this is a big cultural and medical crisis because it
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affects the white civil war veterans. in --d a particular sword social class. like i said, this is a parallel with today. there have been, for decades in the united states, there have been major pockets of heroin addiction, for example, even dating back to the 1970's, 1980's. but that has never generated the kind of concerted effort that we see that has been generated in the last five years, for example, by the prescription opioid epidemic. if you look at the demographics of who's addicted to oxycontin, opana, some of the big name brand synthetic pharmaceuticals that are like pain pills, most people prescribe those medicines and consequently get addicted to them are the same demographic of civil war veterans. they're white. they tend to be male. so they have, even in today's
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society, a social clout that other more marginalized groups don't get to have. so, i guess what i'm getting at here is even though addiction has always been -- opioid addiction has always been a problem, it's only when certain people get addicted that that justifies a concerted response. and that really troubles me. i think all addicted people deserve a concerted effort to have the kinds of medical treatments they need. that's one of the takeaways from this. paul: absolutely. and powerful you said just now, leads us nicely into a question. he's asking whether you see more problemsmilar kinds of during and after world war i and world war ii, with veterans of those conflicts. dr. jones: yeah, this is my next project. i did. i got curious to see if world war i medicine also generated this spike in opioid addiction -- in opiate addiction among
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doughboys, people who returned home and suffered from these ghastly world war i injuries. and it turns out it did. if you read the new york times, the atlantic of the late 1910s, 1920's, you'll encounter, pretty easily, stories about -- stories that are similar to those that circulated after the civil war about addicted civil war veterans. there's this one professor, a woman named jeanette marx, who is famous for being one of the individuals who, early in the 20 th century, first advocated for heavy-handed federal control on drugs. so basically, the early versions of today's drug laws. and she used addicted world war i soldiers as scapegoats for saying this is why we need drug laws, because all these boys are -- all these doughboys are addicted to morphine. that also speaks to more troubling parallels about the long history of opiate addiction. it seems every time the u.s.
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gets into a war, low and behold, war, lo and behold, after the war is over, veterans return home and there's a spike in opioid addiction. is he see the same thing in vietnam, after the iraq and afghanistan wars. something has got to change. we can't continue in these cyclical cycles of addiction. but that's my next project. i'm going to write an article about the post-world war i opium panic. up forst like we set you the last question we have time or. -- time for. dr. jones: thank you for that. paul: i just want to say we're out of time, unfortunately. there are a number of questions we were not able to get to, unfortunately. but i will send to jonathan, after tonight, list of those questions. he'll get to see it, which is very good, especially since so many of the comments were full of praise for what you've done tonight and sharing your research with us.
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so i would like to echo all that praise and congratulate you on a great research project and great presentation tonight. thanks to the audience for being with us and asking questions. and thanks again to you, dr. jones. dr. jones: thanks for joining us. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2020] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] --american history on tv history tv is on c-span every weekend. tors, films, and see our schedule at >> if you like american history tv, keep up with us during the week on facebook, twitter, and youtube. learn about what happened this day in history and see preview clips of upcoming programs. follow us at c-span history. museumonal world war ii
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oral historian hannah daly talks about atomic veterans, servicemen assigned to nuclear bomb tests and cleanup, many of whom suffered long-term health issues from radiation exposure. the program includes interview clips with four of these veterans. the national world war ii museum hosted this discussion and provided the video. >> i am hannah daly, one of the historians at the national world war ii museum in new orleans. today, i'm going to be speaking about atomic veterans, which, when i first came across the term, i had never heard of it before, which surprised me because i study military history, but i kind of touched on everything at least a little bit. so i was researching a potential oral history interviewee who used the term in his memoirs. since then, i have done quite a bit of rrc


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