Skip to main content

Smallpox

Masks and "social distancing" are nothing new. Over the centuries, Americans have suffered terribly from smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, pellagra, influenza, polio, and other pandemics.

As much as nine-tenths of the indigenous population of the Americas died in less than a generation from European pathogens.

In the summer of 1605, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain sailed along the coast of New England, looking for a likely spot to place a colony — a place more hospitable than the upper St. Lawrence River, which he had previously explored. Read more >>

In Boston, where one in six was dying of the plague, the great preacher battled for a new and radical idea.

“The Town is become almoft an Hell upon Earth, a City full of Lies, and Murders, and Blafphemies, as far as Wifhes and Speeches can render it fo: Satan feems to take a ftrange Pofsession of it, in the epidemic Rage, againft that notable and powerful Read more >>

We hope you enjoyed this essay.

Please support this 70-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.

Donate