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"The Wrecking Ground, pt. 21" by Lee Huttner

"The Wrecking Ground" is an essay told in parts by Lee Huttner. We will be publishing a new part each week on our blog. Stay tuned!


In 1835, only eighteen years old, Thoreau contracted tuberculosis. He lived with the disease for the rest of his life, often causing bouts of ill health. In 1860, he was struck with bronchitis, and his health severely declined over the next two years. He died in 1862. His last words were, “Now comes good sailing.”

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the lungs. Tuberculosis bacteria eat the lungs from the inside out. The chest cavity fills with a mixture of blood and the liquefied remains of the lungs. The infected individual is unable to get enough oxygen into their system, and death is usually the result of respiratory failure.

For twenty-seven years, Thoreau was slowly drowning.

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