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Timeline / Colonizers and Resistance / 1721: Inoculations save some from smallpox

1721: Inoculations save some from smallpox

During a smallpox epidemic in Boston, Dr. Zabdiel Boylston inoculates (purposefuly infects) his son and two of his slaves. All of them contract a light case of the virus but survive. Whites and African Americans in the Boston area, and later elsewhere, receive inoculations. Most Native peoples do not; the disease infects and kills thousands of them.

It will be a century before whites begin to inoculate Native peoples, primarily to prevent them from spreading the diease to white settlers.


Pamphlet available to the colonists with rules for treating smallpox and measles, 1721

Courtesy National Library of Medicine