Inoculation, a shocking procedure introduced to America by an enslaved African, became the most sought-after medical procedure of the eighteenth century. The difficulty lay in providing it to all Americans and not just the fortunate few. Across the colonies, poor Americans rioted for equal access to medicine, while cities and towns shut down for quarantines. In Marblehead, Massachusetts, sailors burned down an expensive private hospital just weeks after the Boston Tea Party.
The Revolutionary War broke out during a smallpox epidemic, and in response, General George Washington ordered the inoculation of the Continental Army. But Washington did not have to convince fearful colonists to protect themselves against smallpox ― they were the ones demanding it. [Read more…] about Contagion of Liberty: Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution