INOCULATION LITTLE KNOWN BLACK HISTORY FACT

LITTLE KNOWN BLACK HISTORY FACT

Inoculation was introduced to America

by a slave.

Few details are known about the birth

of Onesimus, but it is assumed he was

born in Africa in the late seventeeth

century before eventually landing in

Boston. One of a thousand people of

African descent living in the Massachusetts

colony, Onesimus was a gift to the Puritan

church minister Cotton Mather from his

congregation in 1706. Onesimus told

Mather about the centuries old tradi-

tion of inoculation practice in Africa.

By extracting the material from an

infected person and scratching it

into the the skin of an uninfected

person, you could deliberately in-

troduce smallpox to the healthy

individualo making them immune.

Considered extremely dangerous at

the time, Cotton Mather convinced

Dr. Zabdiel Boylston to experiment

with the procedure when a smallpox

epidemic hit Boston in 1721 and

over 240 people inoculated.

Opposed politically, religiously

and and medically in the United

States and abroadk public reaction

to the experiment put Mather and

Boylston's lives in danger despite

records indicating that only 2% of

patients requesting inoculation died

compared to the 15% of people not

inoculated who contracted smallpox.

Onesimus' traditional African practice

was used to inoculate American soldiers

during the Revolutionary War and introduced

the concept on inoculation to the United States.

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