In the early 1700s, Onesimus shared a revolutionary way to prevent smallpox.Breaking News
tags: slavery, small pox, medical history
The news was terrifying to colonists in Massachusetts: Smallpox had made it to Boston and was spreading rapidly. The first victims, passengers on a ship from the Caribbean, were shut up in a house identified only by a red flag that read “God have mercy on this house.” Meanwhile, hundreds of residents of the bustling colonial town had started to flee for their lives, terrified of what might happen if they exposed themselves to the frequently deadly disease.
They had reason to fear. The virus was extremely contagious, spreading like wildfire in large epidemics. Smallpox patients experienced fever, fatigue and a crusty rash that could leave disfiguring scars. In up to 30 percent of cases, it killed.
But the smallpox epidemic of 1721 was different than any that came before it. As sickness swept through the city, killing hundreds in a time before modern medical treatment or a robust understanding of infectious disease, an enslaved man known only as Onesimus suggested a potential way to keep people from getting sick. Intrigued by Onesimus’ idea, a brave doctor and an outspoken minister undertook a bold experiment to try to stop smallpox in its tracks.
comments powered by Disqus
- How the Little Ice Age Changed History
- Trump Administration to Turn Over Trove of Declassified Records to Argentina on Human Rights Violations Committed During Military Dictatorship
- To Understand The History Of Elite College Admissions, Just Follow The Money
- A Brief History of the Golan Heights, Claimed by Israel and Syria
- The warped history that fuels right-wing terrorism
- Justin Rose's New Book explores how Martin Luther King Jr. transformed the Christian notion of service into a politically salient concept
- Margaret MacMillan, History Professor Emeritus at Oxford University, Gives Warnings from history for Brexit Britain
- The Historian Who Thinks Donald Trump Is a Movie Hero
- In Memoriam: Joe Miller, Ground-Breaking Historian
- The Women Highlighting Women's History in Feminist Travel Guides