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You're listening to American Shadows, a production of I Heart Radio and Greyman miles from Aaron Manque. The crowd cheered and laughed the old woman as she took the stand in the Salem courtroom, she tried to please them. Her life depended on it. After all. Speaking in her native tongue, Gahler and Guri Glover recited the Lord's Prayer perfectly. Her accuser appeared in minister named Cotton Mather, slammed his fist down on the courtroom stand. Baylock was the devil's tongue.
He told the courtroom he turned to Glover and demanded that she try again. She knew the odds were against her just by being an Irish immigrant. To the English bread colonists, the Irish were inferior a bunch of no nothings. That wasn't all, though. Being an elderly Catholic woman made them dislike her even more. Glover searched the crowd for a shred of empathy, finding none. She recited the prayer again, this time in perfect Latin. Once more, Mather denounced her if she couldn't speak the prayer in perfect English, he stated to the crowd that it proved without a doubt that she was a witch.
Her innocence or guilt rested on her ability to speak a language that she wasn't very good at. Her testimony hadn't been good enough. She had told the truth, but the children had lied that it all started with the Goodwins, one of the families she earned a meager living from as a laundress. Glover had just put fresh linens on the line to dry when Martha, the family's eldest child, ripped the sheets from the clothesline, dirtying them. That wasn't what matter called the incident, though it said the child had been tempted by the devil.
Angry lover had fallen back on her native language, telling the spoiled girl of it's never pleasant being caught. After the scolding, the girl ran off to tell her parents that the old woman had cursed her for nothing more than a harmless prank. Soon after, Martha began having fixed what Mather described as diseases of astonishment before long for other good. When children suffered the same affliction as their older sister, they complained that their eyes, tongue and teeth hurt.
They cried out, swearing Glover was breaking their necks, legs, feet and toes. Of course, when their parents examined them, the children claimed the witch delighted in healing them and then breaking their bones over and over. The Goodwins summoned the doctor, finding nothing. He agreed the cause must be witchcraft. Witnesses quickly came forward to that scene. Glover curse the children with their own eyes. Mother, being the local minister, had been brought in to investigate, and he quickly declared the old woman a witch.
Glover was promptly arrested and interrogated. Each time she told the truth, they insisted she was lying. Members of the community told investigators they always knew something was different about her. They didn't like her religious beliefs, nor did they like her broke. They said she was confrontational and surly, but all she had done was speak normally. They'd mistaken her enthusiasm and the harshness of the Gaelic language as anger. Catholic saints she worshipped were seen as demons. The people in the courtroom, many dressed in their Sunday best, watched as Mather's shouted at Clever, demanding that she recite the Lord's Prayer in English.
She spoke slowly, doing her best. She almost made it to the end for stuttering. The crowd gasped and knowing that her moment of hesitation was the final proof in a verdict that already made, Glover fell silent. They sentenced her to death by hanging. And on November 16th of sixteen eighty eight, a violent crowd gathered to watch. They yelled and threw things at her. The executer demanded she tell them the names of other witches. Unable to do so, they hanged her, pleased that justice had been served.
My told the crowd that evil came in unseen threats against God and anyone who attempted to thwart God's will, no matter what the circumstances, was doing the devil's work. Little did he know, however, that he'd soon be at the center of a controversy that would divide not only Boston but the colonies themselves. It would challenge not just religion but societal beliefs. And some would even say that Mather's actions were on par with witchcraft itself.
I'm Lauren Bichlbaum, welcome to American Chateaux. At first, the symptoms were nothing more than a cough, maybe a sneeze now and then within two weeks, though, people complained they just didn't feel right. Headaches and low fever came next, followed by backaches. Then lesions in the nose and mouth began to form. Almost imperceptibly, the telltale rash began next, forming on the face first, then spreading to the arms, hands and down the body. Smallpox was the most contagious at this point, staying infectious until the scabs formed about nine days later.
Those inflicted who survived to this point were lucky. Not only had they beaten the mortality rate of 30 to 60 percent depending on the strain, but they developed a lifetime immunity from ever catching it again. There was a price, though the disease left marks deep headed scars, often prominent on the face. Though it was epidemic throughout Europe in the 17th century. Smallpox didn't exist in the Americas until colonists brought it with them and without any immunity, it swept through the indigenous peoples in 16 thirty.
A columnist noted the mass death in a journal in great detail. The Native Americans became so ill in great numbers and so quickly that entire tribes and families were unable to care for each other, he wrote. There were few left to bring water or food to the others, nor cover them with furs for warm. They crawled from their dwellings for food and water and often died while trying to return. He finished not by praying for the Native Americans lives, but by thanking God the virus hadn't afflicted the English.
Smallpox would eventually contribute to the deaths of around half of Native American populations. Most of the new colonists were Puritans who not only believed in predestination, but they firmly believed they were God's chosen. The decimation of the indigenous peoples who they called savages was heaven's way of purging the land in favour of the new settlers. They believed they were meant to take over the land, but the colonists turn came soon enough. Like the Native Americans, the colonists, children and their descendants were not immune to smallpox before long epidemics rolled from generation to generation.
From sixteen seventy seven to 16, 78 infected passengers aboard an English ship caused an epidemic to spread throughout Boston. But the worst outbreak in Boston didn't happen until six, 1897. One out of every seven citizens died, so common with smallpox that by 17 one, the city established pest houses where the infected were taken. While you might think these were set up as many hospitals, they were little more than a place to dump the sick until they either died or miraculously survived to prevent new outbreaks.
Arriving ships were searched. If a single case of smallpox was discovered, the ship and the entire crew had to quarantine aboard.
Those aboard who weren't sick were now trapped with those who were. And I'm sure you can guess how that tended to play out. From 79 to until 17, three casualties were so high that the city invoked new laws. Previously, the town bell rang for seven minutes for each death. Now to keep the noise and interruptions down, the bell sounded only once. The contagious nature of the disease also required families to bring the deceased to the burial ground within an hour of death.
Corpses, you see, could still spread the virus to the living. With so many dying, often multiple people in the same household, the whole community was grieving for the more unscrupulous, though this time of mourning became the perfect time to take advantage of others overcharging for services or outright swindling them. The practice became so commonplace that the city put select citizens in charge of ensuring fair pricing. No family went unscathed by smallpox. Cotton Mather wrote in his own journal that he had lost count of the number of friends, family and neighbors who died from the disease in 17, too.
He lost his first wife. The couple had six children, and although they survived smallpox, scarlet fever and measles were also on the rise. Every Sunday, mother led his congregation in prayer, but no amount of praying stopped the diseases from ravaging the city. Their prayers didn't save the four hundred and forty one colonists who died roughly five percent of Boston's population. Of course, the newspapers didn't report the deaths of black or Native Americans, while mandatory quarantines helped.
Mother felt something else had to be done as a younger man had briefly considered a life in the medical field before becoming a minister. And as it happened, he still received publications from London that discussed inoculation. One night, mother openly vented his frustration to an enslaved man in his service who went by the name. Mather had given him uneasiness. Uneasiness had been a gift from Mather's congregation in December of seventy. It's hard to imagine how anyone could gift another human being.
But these were also the same people who believed God's will have killed Native Americans so that they themselves could prosper. My father was interested in converting an mail to Christianity, and so he taught an isthmus to read and write alongside his own children. And discussions between them were not unusual. The concept of immunization, while unheard of in the colonies, wasn't new to parts of Europe or Africa. Uneasiness explained he had no fear of smallpox because he'd been given a protective operation as a boy.
Intrigued mother asked how the procedure worked. The method was rather crude back then. Essentially, fluid was taken from an infected person's blisters and transferred into an incision made in the arm and leg of an unaffected person. Without understanding what we know today about virus load and exposure, any soumises explanation was simple. By taking the tiny amount of the virus and introducing it into the bloodstream of a healthy person, the virus couldn't multiply fast enough before the body's immune system killed it.
This is what we now know as very lation, a version of inoculation, sure, the inoculated person would get a little sick but did survive and afterward they'd be immune for life. Mather quickly interviewed other enslaved people in the city. He learned that the process had been widespread and effective in Africa. Before long, he formed an idea. If he could find a way to inoculate people, the colonists would be free of smallpox for good. It was 17 twenty one and a whole new generation was vulnerable.
Should a new outbreak hit the city? Little did he or anyone else know it was already there, sitting just offshore in a trading ship named the HMS Seahorse. Pirates were common in 1721 to combat them, warships like the seahorse often escorted smaller merchant ships to and from ports. The seahorses captain Thomas Derrell was a seasoned veteran with a reputation for rushing trips. In his opinion, the faster they and the merchant ships traveled, the better. By the time the ship and crew pulled into Boston Harbor, newspapers had reported that Europe at large and London in particular were in the midst of an epidemic of bubonic plague.
Making matters worse, an outbreak of smallpox had also been reported in both London and Barbados, the route Darryl and his crew had sailed because cargo ships from both locations came into port frequently. Customs agents in Boston had taken to examining incoming crews for traces of sickness.
But the captain didn't subscribe to Boston's inspection requirements. Such an intrusion of his liberties were an inconvenience to his business. Sure, there had been deaths while in route, but Darryl knew better than to be specific in the ship's logs. Once the crew laid anchor, he released them to go ashore at Castle Island on May 12. A report came in from the seahorse. The last man to die had been young and healthy. Just days after the ship docked, inspectors were sent to investigate there.
They were horrified to discover two other young men, both in the early stages of smallpox. But the real terror came when they learned that 43 other crew members were freely roaming Boston's streets and the city council ordered an immediate quarantine for the seahorse. It took several days before all the men were found and returned to their ship. Captain and crew were ordered to quarantine at a hospital on Spectacle Island, all refused, though, adamant that his men hadn't brought smallpox ashore.
Eventually, he left Boston Harbor, but instead of heading to the hospital, he instead dropped anchor at Bird Island. While city council members and the ship's captain quarreled, officials decided to keep their findings aboard the seahorse out of the public's ears. There was no reason to cause a panic after all. But secrets have a way of leaking. And before long, the news, along with the upcoming epidemic, spread through the city like fire. Derrell angry with the implication that he had caused the outbreak and even more furious that he and the ship were now in lockdown, had a musician play the trumpet at all hours, disturbing the peace of those living close to shore.
Eight days into the quarantine, officials tried to quiet the rumors and concern people were on edge. By May 26, Cotton Mather wrote in his diary that smallpox would be upon them once more. The disease wasn't all that was on his mind, though. His debts were growing to his second marriage was in trouble. And on top of all of that, his congregation had started to dwindle. Puritans were becoming less popular. His reputation had been under fire since the uproar of witch trials in Salem, and his opponents, both personal and religious, seemed to be attacking him from all sides.
Of course, mother wasn't the easiest person to get along with. He was prone to fits of rage, exaggeration and bravado. And his clinging to outdated conventions didn't win him any popularity contests. He had long been saying another outbreak was on the way and when one hadn't happened in a few years, people began to dismiss his warnings and not to be ignored. He claimed a destroying angel would wreak havoc on Boston. But the warm spring weather had arrived.
People ventured out and mingled with their neighbors, unaware that infected sailors were among them. Not surprisingly, many became ill. Soon enough, the city officials could no longer pretend the virus wasn't spreading. They made another announcement in the paper notifying the town that they had eight known cases, though in reality the numbers were much higher. Red quarantine flags cropped up in front of people's homes, along with signs reading Lord, have mercy on this house. Eventually, the flags were everywhere in the city enforced martial law.
While Mather was worried, he also couldn't help feeling a little justified, deciding that now was the time to implement his plan. He wrote to a prominent physician and friend telling him about Nisim and their concept of inoculation. We didn't have to wait long for the rejection letter. Undeterred, Mather wrote to several more physicians. One doctor's advice on Boylston responded and asked for any notes and papers Mather had on the subject. Meanwhile, smallpox cases exploded and people no longer had faith in city officials to tell the truth and began to evacuate the city, potentially spreading the disease farther.
By the time Mather's letter arrived, Dr. Boylston had already sent his wife and daughters to stay with relatives in another colony. One of his sons remained at school in Cambridge, though, and two more stayed in Boston, knowing how deadly the disease was. The doctor became obsessive about changing clothes between patients, among other sanitation practices. After much deliberation about the best method of inoculation, Boylston decided it was time for a trial and sent a note to mother, telling him he would attempt to immunize a few test subjects.
After formulating the procedure and coming up with what he thought was a solid plan, Boylston visited one of his patients who was 12 days into the sickness after cleaning the skin on his patients arm. Boylston pierced a few blisters and collected the fluid with a quill. He transferred liquid to a vial and placed to stop it, then tap the vial into his jacket pocket to keep it at body temperature. Finally, he headed home to his test subjects. One was his own son, six year old Thomas.
Also part of the test would be his assistant, an enslaved man called Jack and the man's young son, Jackie. After that, the waiting began. Their plan might very well save lives, but like so many things in life, only time would tell. Innoculation wasn't pleasant, not just the procedure, mind you, and that was bad enough, the preparation leading up to it wasn't exactly a walk in the park, but from the medical journals Ballston had read along with Mather's interview notes from the black population, the doctor had what he hoped would work.
First, the patient was to take a laxative to purge their system during the isolation a week before and three weeks after the procedure. Thomas, Jackie and Jack were also placed on a special diet no milk or other dairy products. Boylston chose to inoculate Thomas first. He made an incision on his son's upper arm, then placed a single drop of liquid from the vial into the open wound. Then the process was repeated, this time on the boy's upper thigh near the buttocks.
Not once did Thomas cry out. Despite the lack of a topical, numbing agent, Jackie was just a toddler, and although he did cry, he was back to playing moments after when Jack was last.
Finally, with the procedures complete, all the windows in the house were shot and the three patients were kept in a single room in an attempt to contain the virus. Four days later, the virus may not have spread among test subjects, but word had. Citizens were horrified and outraged. They openly condemned Boston for not only using his own son, but for such a dangerous and clearly immoral procedure. Once they learned that their own minister had instigated the inoculations, they became downright incensed.
A couple of days later, Jackie and Thomas had begun to run fevers. Boylston had hoped the symptoms would be mild, but now he wondered if he'd saved his son or condemned him to a premature death. All he could do was wait eight days into the quarantine. Jackie seemed better, but Thomas's fever spiked. He twitched in his sleep and had vivid nightmares and nine Wilston induced vomiting. Seven hours later, his son's fever broke. The two boys developed blisters on the ninth day, but Jack barely had any symptoms.
Many of the white population in Boston felt that inoculation was dangerous and that the black population had lied about its effectiveness in an attempt to kill off their owners. Boston, however, held fast to his belief that immunization was life saving. Time and again, the doctor found himself under attack even when Jack, Jackie and Thomas had fully recovered without the devastating symptoms and scarring that most others experienced from smallpox. Some people objected to inoculations based on religious beliefs. They believed that God's will wasn't something to tamper with and that changing the course of an illness was nothing short of the devil's work.
Mather did his best to persuade people that rejecting inoculation was a direct violation of the Sixth Commandment Thou shalt not kill. Those unwilling to inoculate were welcoming the disease, and that was the true crime against God. In July, Dr Boston was called before the city officials. No amount of scientific evidence nor medical research from England persuaded the committee, though he did his best to defend himself and his practice. The doctor realized the councilman and the public had made up their minds against immunization.
He left determined to continue inoculating people as long as smallpox was a threat to the community. By now, Bilston had successfully inoculated two more of his son's mother, however, chose not to inoculate his children. He wrestled with indecision and hoped that if officials outlawed inoculations, he would be off the hook as a hypocrite. Had lost his first wife and 10 of his 15 children to disease and two of his daughters were now ill. Hannah and Abigail. He wrote in his journal that the PRST clamour of people fiercely possessed by the devil would stop him from saving the lives of his remaining children.
And complicating matters, Abigail was weeks away from giving birth. Shortly afterward, his son, Samuel, reported the college roommate to come down with smallpox and begged to be inoculated. With two of his children already stricken, mother relented, Samuel and Hannah survived, though Abigail and her baby died. Smallpox continued to ravage the city and the death toll continued to rise. Dr. Ballston was verbally and sometimes physically assaulted. His saddle was tarred after an elderly inoculation patient died.
Others cried out for his imprisonment. But the doctor wasn't the only one under attack. One morning, while the Mather household slept, someone threw a crude bomb through a window. Unfortunately, the fuse was knocked loose and the device fizzled, though a hefty reward was offered, not a single person stepped forward with any information. That October saw the highest death toll yet an average of 13 deaths a day. Boylston continued to immunize those who sought him out, and by December, the inoculations were seeming to take hold.
Attacks against him continued to rise, though, and fearing for the safety of his family, he stopped taking on new patients for the month between December 27th and January. Twenty seven. Fortunately, two other doctors in neighboring towns took up the practice of immunization by February. The Boston newsletter wrote that not a single case of smallpox had been reported for the first time in nearly a year.
In May, Boylston performed his last inoculations, many on Mather's extended family who had returned to the city. The minister recorded the success in his journal stating that several hundred people of all ages and races have been inoculated, the smallpox epidemic had come to an end. Though the debate raged on and several cities banned the practice, those who chose to protect themselves found doctors willing to inoculate. But smallpox and the debate around immunization was far from over. In fact, it was just getting started.
With the population booming and cities growing denser, it wasn't long before diseases like smallpox returned, people living in areas that banned inoculations often sent family members to Philadelphia, where the procedure was allowed. In 1775, a new outbreak spread through the colonies, threatening to infect the new Continental Army. People fled the city hoping to find refuge in nearby towns, but General George Washington banned them from the army's camps to prevent further infection. The British and their mercenaries, new colonials, were vulnerable to smallpox and sent infected prisoners directly into the colonies.
And if that sounds a bit like germ warfare, that's because it was. If the rebels were sick, the budding revolution would be over without much of a fight. After all, the British troops had been inoculated back in England, where the practice was legal and commonplace. The plan seemed to work in the fall of 1775, when over ten thousand colonial troops were sent to march on Quebec, failure to take the Canadian city was blamed mainly on illness.
3000 men were stricken with smallpox, prompting John Adams to say that the disease was ten times worse than any human adversary.
General Washington also knew the dangers of the disease, he had survived the illness as a child, but though he believed in inoculation, his orders were to prohibit it among his men. The month long process was too time consuming, he told them. When the British left Boston in 1776, Washington sent a thousand troops who survived smallpox to secure the city with a growing need for even more soldiers. The call went out for volunteers. Men from far and wide joined, but most of them had no immunity.
Virginia had barely been touched by smallpox, but when enlisted men returned home, they brought the deadly disease with them. Now Washington was faced with a problem. If he didn't inoculate his men, he wouldn't have enough of them to fight. Defying the laws against it, he had recruits inoculated and soldiers were sworn to secrecy, it wouldn't do for the British to learn that the majority of the rebel troops were incapacitated during the quarantine period. By the year's end, 40000 men would carry smallpox immunity for the rest of their lives.
Infection rates dropped from 17 percent to just one percent. After that, Washington's troops were able to travel up and down the coastline and move from city to city without catching or spreading the disease. Their immunity kept them healthy and more importantly, allow them to continue the fight for American independence. And the rest, as they say, is history. There's more to this story. Stick around after this brief sponsor break to hear all about it. In 1796, Dr.
Edward Jenner created the first vaccine for smallpox, though his method was considerably safer and more comfortable than earlier techniques, people still tended to resist immunization and smallpox outbreaks continued worldwide. In just the 20th century alone, about two million people died from the disease. While smallpox may seem like something from our distant past, work toward truly eliminating the disease didn't happen until 1964. That's when the World Health Organization expert committee came up with an aggressive plan to vaccinate the entire world population.
Without it, outbreaks would always threaten new generations. The disease was so persistent and contagious that even when 90 percent of western Nigeria was vaccinated, an outbreak still occurred in the remaining 10 percent. The source of the flare up reportedly originated in a religious group that had been against vaccination. Supplying the world with enough vaccines proved to be a monumental task. Liquid serum had to be used within 48 hours. A Freeze-Dried version was created along with a new delivery method, a gel injector allowing workers to deliver a thousand vaccinations an hour.
No, efficient, the injector was cost prohibitive, so an even better delivery method was created, a bifurcated needle, which is essentially a two pronged syringe. The operation suffered another setback when supplies were delayed and new outbreaks erupted. Staff members scrambled to isolate and contain the infected. The organization was losing the war on smallpox. On New Year's Day of 1967, the World Health Organization launched an even more aggressive eradication program. The result was the elimination of smallpox in Western Europe, Japan and North America, among other places.
Disaster struck again in 1970, though, killing one hundred and twenty three unvaccinated people in India. Door to door search helped vaccinate the vulnerable and isolate the sick. In 1972, yet another outbreak occurred, this time in Yugoslavia. Authorities declared martial law to enforce quarantine, and the outbreak lasted a mere two months. By 1975, smallpox persisted primarily in the Horn of Africa, vaccinating people there had proved difficult. Much of the area was in the midst of civil war.
Famine and violence caused many refugees to flee. Taking the disease with them and getting people in supplies in and out of the region was difficult without transportation infrastructure. The last case of the deadliest strain of smallpox, very all the major was found in a three year old girl in India in 1977. The World Health Organization traveled to Bangladesh to isolate the child, thankfully with medical treatment. She made a full recovery. Since that young girl was the last known case of the deadliest strain of smallpox, a sample taken from her was transferred to the United States Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and stored with other disease samples there.
Finally, on December 9th of nineteen seventy nine, smallpox was declared completely eradicated. Today, it's the only disease humanity has ever been able to eliminate. The cost totaled over three hundred million dollars, with the United States making the largest contribution. That's over a billion dollars today, adjusting for inflation. While the World Health Organization kept a couple of vaccines on hand just in case, they asked that all samples of smallpox be destroyed in 1986, after all, if the disease were ever to find its way back into the population, the results would be catastrophic.
Most countries agreed and destroyed their samples, too, however, did not, and they still have samples of the deadliest strain of smallpox in history, those countries, Russia and the United States. American Chateaux is hosted by Lauren Vogel Bomb. This episode was written by Michelle Muto with researcher Robin Miniter and produced by Miranda Hawkins and Trevor Young with executive producers Aaron Manque, Alex Williams and Matt Frederick. To learn more about the show, visit Greyman, Millicom for more podcast from My Heart Radio, visit the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.