Fordham University

 

Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval SourcebookModern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page
Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | IslamicJewishLesbian and Gay | Science | Women's


Modern History


Full Texts Multimedia Additions Search Help


Selected Sources Sections Studying History Reformation Early Modern World Everyday Life Absolutism Constitutionalism Colonial North America Colonial Latin America Scientific Revolution Enlightenment Enlightened Despots American Independence French Revolution Industrial Revolution Romanticism Conservative Order Nationalism Liberalism 1848 19C Britain 19C France 19C Germany 19C Italy 19C West Europe 19C East Europe Early US US Civil War US Immigration 19C US Culture Canada Australia & New Zealand 19C Latin America Socialism Imperialism Industrial Revolution II Darwin, Freud 19C Religion World War I Russian Revolution Age of Anxiety Depression Fascism Nazism Holocaust World War II Bipolar World US Power US Society Western Europe Since 1945 Eastern Europe Since 1945 Decolonization Asia Since 1900 Africa Since 1945 Middle East Since 1945 20C Latin America Modern Social Movements Post War Western Thought Religion Since 1945 Modern Science Pop Culture 21st Century
IHSP Credits

Modern History Sourcebook:
Smallpox, Indians, and Blankets


From an Internet post by Mary Ritchie (ritchie@cs.uwp.edu) Fri, 2 Jul 1993. She addressed the question of whether Smallpox was really spread by blankets to American Indians

This reference [for the story of American Indians and deliberate smallpox spreading ]is from American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492, by Russell Thornton, 1987 (Norman: U. of Oklahoma Pr.) pp.78-79

It is also during the eighteenth century that we find written reports of American Indians being intentionally exposed to smallpox by Europeans. In 1763 in Pennsylvania, Sir Jeffrey Amherst, commander of the British forces....wrote in the postscript of a letter to Bouquet the suggestion that smallpox be sent among the disaffected tribes. Bouquet replied, also in a postscript,

"I will try to innoculate the[m]...with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not get the disease myself."

....To Bouquet's postscript, Amherst replied,

"You will do well as to try to innoculate the Indians by means of blankets as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this exorable race."

On June 24, Captain Ecuyer, of the Royal Americans, noted in his journal:

"Out of our regard for them (i.e. two Indian chiefs) we gave them two blankets and a handkerchief out of the smallpox hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."

(quoted from Stearn, E. and Stearn, A. "Smallpox Immunization of the Amerindian.", Bulletin of the History of Medicine 13:601-13.)

Thornton goes on to report that smallpox spread to the tribes along the Ohio river.


This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use of the Sourcebook.

(c)Paul Halsall Aug 1997
halsall@murray.fordham.edu