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.