tv History Bookshelf CSPAN April 11, 2015 4:01pm-5:07pm EDT
c. in his book, he describes public resistance to be inactivation program and the resistance appeared to ministers. posted in 2010, this event is about an hour. [applause] tony: thank you very much. thank you for the kind introduction. i'm glad we have a full house. thanks for coming out for the independent book sellers. a wonderful asset to your community. delightful bookstore. i'm tempted to leave the podium and range among the shelves for a couple of hours and have you join me with a cup of coffee. my hosts are so bring the 20th anniversary. congratulations to the bookstore, and hopefully i'll be able to come back on their 40th anniversary in a couple of decades, god willing.
anyway, it's interesting, i'm going out on the book tour and speaking to a lot of audiences about both of my books. it's always interesting to see the kind of reaction you'll get to the books. most of it positive. most of the interesting comments from a friend of mine in williamsburg that came up and said, tony, i have to admit, i really didn't like history very much in school. because it was kind of boring. but you make it come alive. i love your book. i feel like i'm there. this was the hurricane of independence. i feel like i'm in newfoundland fishing and hurricane is coming. i feel like i am on the battlefield in the american revolution. i'm so engrossed in the book. i feel like i'm there. of course, i was appreciative and said thank you. her husband elbowed me in the
ribs and said, she likes it so much he reads four pages a day. it is right next to the reader's digest in the bathroom in that little basket i was chuckling. he elbowed me again and said some day she likes me -- likes it so much, she reads eight pages. i guess sometimes as an author, you have to get the praise you can get. it was such a great story to research. it almost told itself. i think it is a great story. i'm really glad to be here to share with you. if you'll indulge me, i will start by doing just a little reading from the beginning of the book. the killer escaped notice because it was microscopic, a virus.
it did not yet have a human host but that did not matter. , the virus could survive for weeks outside of the human body such as in a blanket or an article of clothing. because of the timing of the voyage and the appearance of symptoms it is likely that no sailor was infected until halfway through the voyage. it would not be difficult under some circumstances for a sailor to read in -- breathe in millions of very small viruses and such items as a blanket or an article of clothing. the virus of course is not conscious of its actions. the organism simply knew that a human host so that i could reproduce. in order for a sailor to catch the disease, he needed to have been free of the disease from the moment of infection, because you receive immunity for life if you survive smallpox. even if it lacks self-awareness, the virus-infected one of the sailors at the most opportune time. the voyage to america normally
lasted about two weeks. if the virus infected a sailor too early in the voyage, it would kill several sailors but the infection would be confined to a single ship because the captain would not pull into port if the ship was full of contagion. they would enter a population of susceptible people and spread it without realizing. the disaster is result of his innocent action. shipped off at malevolence and the royal navy as well as merchant ships traverse the atlantic between europe, africa, the caribbean and british north america. they regularly stopped at ports for supplies and trade. the interconnected global nature of these imperial networks gave the virus the potential to unleash a major pandemic that can kill many thousands of people. and in fact, a sailor did contract a bond in a british
worship coming from barbados, part of a convoy of ships that were headed for angwin and stopped off in boston for repairs and to trade, and it was aboard the hms seahorse. the seahorse was set for boston, massachusetts, the center of american puritanism since its founding exactly a century before. puritanism was shaped by a covenant of theology and the puritans understanding in reaction to the disease would be completely shaped by their puritan outlook. puritanism was its greatest challenge because of the outbreak. the ship pulled into boston harbor and many of the crew went ashore including this one sailor who had smallpox, and he didn't know what. he went ashore at long wharf and frequented probably the taverns of boston which sailors would want to do on occasion and he
also probably went into some other shops and was interacting with a lot of people and with every cough, with every sneeze every handshake, with every interaction with other people he was spreading smallpox around boston. and in fact, he came down with symptoms a few days later and so did another person in town. it came to the notice of the town authorities and they reacted very quickly because , smallpox had ravaged boston and other port cities about every generation. once enough people had been born that had no immunity to the smallpox, a ship would come in bring the disease and inept -- and an epidemic would rage. it happened about every 20 years. in this case, they reacted. they send the nurse to their homes. they posted guards at the doors at the two victims and they also flew a flag outside the house
which was a red flag which said god have mercy on this house. and they thought they had successfully isolated these people. of course, it was a fool's hope. within a few more weeks in early may they noticed that there were eight more cases of smallpox around the town, and i charted them on maps from 1722 , and i found most tragically, they were in every single corner of boston. again, those people were going to their peerage and meeting houses, going to the anglican church in town. they interacted with their family members, with their neighbors and again spreading smallpox all over the town. now, an unlikely person stepped into this mix. he was perhaps the most famous scientist and the most renowned
scientist in all of america. he was a member of the british royal society and regularly send contributions to the royal society. he had a library with some 3000 books and had studied medicine at harvard. he had worked out an almanac and even started the first scientific society in all of the american colonies. he left an autobiography for his children and also wrote essays on doing good. now, of course you know who i am talking about, right? benjamin franklin, right? of course, he would be wrong. the answer is surprisingly cotton mathers. a lot of people don't know that. he was one of the most advanced scientists of his day. he preached heliocentric some -- heliocentrism and the idea of
the scientific revolution right from the pulpit. back in 1716, he had talked to one of his slaves, and he asked him, did you have smallpox? and the slave answered, well yes and no. and you can see that the slave confounded this great scientist. he probably had a quizzical look on his face and mather asked him, what do you mean? the slave patiently explained the matter. yes, i had smallpox, but not probably in the way that you think. i was inoculated, and he actually showed him the scar on his arm. and he told mather about inoculation. mather also writes about a practice in greece and turkey a few months later from the british royal society. what inoculation was, unless you have seen the john adams video and you would have seen abigail and the children being inoculated, they would simply
make an incision in the arm. they would scoop out some live smallpox virus from a victim and mix it in with the blood and you would get smallpox. but usually the symptoms were milder and the death rate was much, much lower. as you will see it was down around 1%-3% for getting inoculated and up around 15 to 30% which was pretty normal for getting it through the respiratory system in the common way. now, completely virgin populations who never had any exposure to it, the death rate was as high as, tragically, 70% 80% 90% so it was very tragic , for them and really their pearland. now that-- mather learned about this and he said next time there is an epidemic involve, i'm going to call together physicians, meeting of the doctors and get them to practice inoculation.
of course, mather was a man of enlightenment, a man of reason and he just assumed everyone would go along with his idea. and he was a bit vain, a bit vain and assumed everyone would follow along. in fact when the epidemic hit and mather learned about it in this town of only 11,000 people, he did write a letter to the doctors asking them to practice inoculation. and he was met with stony silence. nobody responded. and he was probably quite confused by that, and so sent them another letter. one lone dr. dr. boyleton, responded. we don't have a record of the meeting that we can imagine the meeting may be at the home conferring about it, maybe talking exactly about how inoculation is done in thinking about their plan for practicing it. he could not be inoculated himself. he had had smallpox before and they knew enough that the
inoculation, he could not get smallpox again so he tested it out on his own six-year-old son. now i have a six-year-old son and i can imagine having the courage to actually test of this untested medical procedure on him that might possibly kill him. maybe call it foolhardy. i don't know. he also tested it out very interesting way on his two slaves, a father and a son. i don't know whether the slaves actually consented or not and it raises all kinds of interesting questions about the nature of slavery. i would like to imagine getting to know dr. boylston across 300 years in the course of my research, that he did ask them for their consent. but i have no evidence of that. i can't confirm it either way. it raises a lot of interesting questions.
he tested it out on the trio and, in fact, it worked. boylston's son took a turn for the worst but he does survive and boylston shows that it works. so other people in the small town, although it was the largest city in america at the time with 11,000 people, other people hear about it. mather, boylston, they didn't try to hide the fact that they were inoculated and seven other people come and they are inoculated too. well, the town goes berserk. everyone goes ballistic. there was outrage. 1000 people fled boston for their lives in fear of the smallpox virus, and people were outraged. they said how when the world can you give people smallpox when they are already getting it? this didn't make sense to them. you are just going to spread it around and kill everybody. and boylston was confronted in the streets of boston and mather was confronted. they were assaulted in the streets and let me give you a
little flavor. mather felt under a great deal of pressure from everyone and this is what he wrote. he said, the destroyer being enraged at the proposal, talking about the devil, the embrace of the proposal of anything that may rescue the lives of our poor people from him has taken a strange possession of the people on this occasion. they rant, they rail, they blaspheme. they talk not only like idiots but also like frantic and not only be positioned began the experiment, but also by and the object of your fury. and 18th century language he says. then he went on to say another day, the cursive clamor of the people strangely possessed by
the devil will probably prevent the lives of my own two children from the smallpox in the way of transplantation. his own two children. we can imagine cotton mather his own two children had never had smallpox and he was afraid for their lives. he wanted them to get inoculated and was afraid that his own children would die if the town put an end to it. in fact, boylston a few weeks later was hauled before the town authorities and selectmen. they heard some evidence about the terrors of inoculation and they ordered him to stop. but boylston, like a good independent fiercely , independent new englander, ignored them and persisted rejected their authority and persisted. he wanted to save lives. he saw that it worked and he wanted to continue. again the town went crazy and set up a huge debate, because in the newspapers of austen, and the pamphlets in this very
literate city, with newspapers a lot of publishers to publish pamphlets, the puritans were highly literate and really valued education, to read the bible and other books. were highly literate. and so it sets up a debate for the people very publicly. and they debate against and for inoculation. this is where the story gets even more fascinating. it is so curious. the main proponents of inoculation, as i said, where the puritan ministers, not just cotton mather but the other puritan ministers and oslo dr. dr. boylston. the opponents of inoculation were all the other doctors that of boston. here are their reasons. the doctors said, why are you giving people smallpox when it is our ready raging in town?
they could not think outside of their conceptual and, i would argue, dogmatic framework. their paradigm, their way of thinking, they couldn't embrace a new way of doing things. even more interestingly, they said they quoted scripture against it. they quoted scripture against inoculation and also made religious arguments against it with puritan predestination. they said look, this is god's will from the beginning of time. people were getting sick and you can't intervene in that and if you do you will bring down greater plagues among us. and they said, just like in the book of job with the epidemic for our collective sense. don't bring down greater wrath from heaven. the doctors were saying that.
cotton mather in his argument takes the natural law approach. he says no, god gave us reason to discover medical to pick truth than discoveries so that we can help people. and he also counters by saying oh, we can't intervene and yet the will of god can kill people? maybe we shouldn't have doctors at all. it makes perfect sense, makes perfect sense. because mather learned information from one of his slaves, the doctors also made despicable very racist arguments against it. they said, you have gotten your information from a slave? and mather, to his credit, even when he was attacked for it, he never said i had an ah-hah moment, never claimed credit. always said yes, i learned this information. the doctors are saying, you can't learn from that. they are slaves, they lack reason.
they are not fully human. they are sneaky, they are liars. very despicable. mather said no, god gave them reason. they are human beings. we can learn from them and in fact god gave them a special cure that us advanced europeans don't even have. also, the doctor said you learned this information from greece and turkey. the muslims are pagans. you can't learn from them either. and so, cotton mather and the ministers responded, we can't learn from pagans? you mean ancient pagans like hippocrates and galen, those ancient doctors who shaped the entire dogmatic way of practicing medicine? those pagans? it is a very fierce debate. and you know, the doctors also
were attacking learning from native americans and mather said no we learn how to cure snake bites from them. god gave them a special affliction, a special disease but he also gave them a special cure and we can learn from all of these non-western people. mather in this whole debate comes across as really pretty liberal minded, open-minded and even by 2010 standards. it is really quite amazing. and while the doctors-- it is a crazy debate. the doctors refuse to even examine one patient, even under completely isolated conditions out on an island in boston harbor. they said, we are not going to see patients, even if they have smallpox. they refuse to see patients. mather said, and boylston said come see one patient.
we want you to. the doctors, especially dr. william douglas who was a primary opponent of inoculation also have a copy of the 1760 journal. mather said, i don't have mind. can we please borrow yours to make sure we are doing this correctly? just to make sure because we don't want anyone to die if we do it wrong. what do you think douglas' answer was? i am not going to let you see it. whetted boylston and mather do? they form a hypothesis based upon this information that they gather around throughout observation and through reading. they form a hypothesis and they test it. it works, they retested and then they retested again and retested and they form a theory about inoculation, that this is the way to save lives.
i see younger members of the audience. i am not a scientist. i am an historian. you know that is the scientific method, right? i know my sixth grade science vaguely, but i know enough about it to know that that is a scientific matter. -- scientific method. mather and boylston come across as extremely scientific so this debate rages this very curious debate. and he steps into the fray in august of 1721? you are going to love this. these brother start a newspaper called the new england current and who are these brothers? a young james and benjamin franklin. and their paper is started for the primary purpose of opposing inoculation. they serve as a mouthpiece for the opposition and they print every scurrilous attack on inoculation upon the power of the ministers. they print every piece of scandalous and vicious verse
against the ministers and just go after their jugular. now, let me be very clear that james and benjamin franklin don't necessarily write themselves against smallpox. but, they do serve as the mouthpiece for the opposition, and this debate goes down right into the gutter, right into the mud. they are viciously attacking each other personally, calling each other names. the partisanship of today would look like two boy scouts talking in comparison to these attacks that they were launching at each other. it was just a vicious debate. so to continue, the debate rages. now, meanwhile people are dying of smallpox. june and july, about a dozen people die. more more people are getting smallpox. in august, about 26 people die. in september the numbers are up to 101. people are dying, hundreds and hundreds.
is raging in the fall. thousands are sick in october. as many as 411 people die of smallpox in october. now there is another group that didn't engage in this very public debate. they didn't really leave a lot of records of how they felt about all this, but i thought their story was really important. when you got smallpox you could barely eat or drink if they got into your throat and you can imagine them dripping a few drops of water into these children's throats. maybe staying up far into the night tending them by the fireside even to their own , detriment. you can imagine how tired they were. maybe they even had smallpox but were still tending to the children. they went out of their gardens to get herbs for they had rescue
, books passed down from their mothers and grandmothers, not only food recipes but also cares -- also cures and they probably knew as much of the old medicine coming down from the greeks and romans as the doctors in town who had read about them. and of course you know who i'm talking about, the women of boston. the great silent majority who didn't necessarily have records but as i call it in the book they were the great unsung heroes of this epidemic. why? because they put the needs of the sick before their own needs, and helped take care of them. in october, as i said 411 died and the debate continued, it raged. i am going to do my primary reading from a book about how one person reacted to cotton mather and his support of inoculation. one person in boston had had enough of the high and mighty cotton mather.
he lorded his position over everybody, thinking that it was better than everyone of them. he was filled with rage that this minister was with boylston -- was in league with that quack boylston giving people smallpox. what they were doing just did not make sense. the resentment boiled into weeks and months and now was about to explode. the person must have nervously sat in his home and material spread out on the table. i should have a table for a prop here. the individual board -- poured black powder into a spherical shape, some liquid bowls a powder into a metal bowl. he probably fear that someone would knock on the door and discover what was going on. the figure went over to a desk and grabbed a quill ink and a few small pieces of parchment. he might've thrown a couple of scraps away to find his feelings were properly conveyed. that individual chose his words
carefully. he reached for a small quarter of material. now, we use the conventional he because my editor rewrote it, but i actually don't know of that was a man or a woman so just keep that in the back of your mind. the mather home was still in the morning hours before dawn. three guests were in the lodging room. mather's nephew had traveled from roxbury with two gentlemen into boston. walter had agreed to undergo the smallpox inoculation and returned to the service, which had the confusion begun among them. walter was one of the cases that have prompted the town authorities to stop people from coming into boston for that purpose. at roughly 3:00 in the morning on november 14, the figure probably stood in the shadows staring at the windows of the
home and planning his escape route. the metal of the bomb was cold to the touch, but a source of fire was brought into contact with diffuse. he hurled the weapon toward the house. shattered glass and the iron ball smashed under walter's bedroom and instantly evoke him and the others in the brown. mather came running into the room with his wife, his daughter nancy and his servants. the ministers saw the bomb lying in two pieces on the floor. he bent down to inspected, saying if he wrote and i love this language, the granato was charged. the upper part with dry powder, the lower part with oil and turpentine and powder and what else i know not. looking around the room, mather wrote, passing through the window the iron in the middle giving such a turn to at that and falling on the floor the
fired wildfire and diffuse was wildly shaken out on the floor without firing the granado. everyone present especially walter and his traveling companions knew that they were lucky to be alive. but, if it had detonated, it surely would have killed them. mather thought upon it's going off it must've slipped and probably killed the people in the room and certainly fired the chamber and speedily laid my house in ash. mather picked up the broken pieces of the grenade and found a piece of paper tied to the fuse with a string that might outlive the breaking of the shell. now, i don't personally know why he would put a note on a bomb. [laughter]
tony: however, maybe he wants to get his feelings out. i don't know. it was a dubious proposition that the parchment would survive the incendiary explosion. but the assailant wrote out the message and attach it anyway. it read, cotton mather you dog you. i will inoculate you with this with a pox on you. mather did indeed survive this assassination attempt. and the smallpox epidemic did eventually wither away. out of 11,000 people, 1000 people fled, 6000 people got smallpox in 1721, 6000. i would imagine of the other
4000 who were remaining probably already had smallpox so it is probably likely that very few people who were in boston in 1721 escaped who were susceptible, escaped from getting smallpox. now out of those 6000, almost 1000 died. they were talking about a death rate which we would expect about 16%, very common. but, more importantly, and very benevolently, we have the discovery of inoculation. they tested it out, boylston inoculated almost 250 people and out of those only six died, and because it was impossible to tell if they got smallpox maybe an hour before they were inoculated, it was very possible that no one died of inoculation, although boylston himself admitted that six people died and it was possible at least a few of those contracted smallpox and then he inoculated them simultaneously and blamed the inoculation. it is possible. they had this great medical discovery and you can trace this discovery. i don't really tell the story because i really focus in on boston.
maybe one of you can write it, about lady montagu practicing the same procedure in england and encountering much the same opposition. it was practiced in the colonies. you can trace it to edward jenner in england and reasoning it was because they had pox on their hands. he discovered the vaccine. this would lead to the eradication of it. i don't know if you know this -- a lot of people would say the black plague but smallpox is the greatest killer, the deadliest disease in all of human history. it was a great conquest.
what i argue in the book in the covenant is that the attacks on the ministers, they are getting into the mud with their opponents. the vicious debate that rages in the streets. and in the public newspapers and pamphlets. the idea of the first puritans of the city on a hill, they are doing to bind themselves together and with god to form the perfect society, perfect church, be a model for the reform of england. it was simply torn apart. other events contributed. but this epidemic and debate tore apart the old covenant and could not survive. what we get in the successive decade is a new covenant. it's a covenant rooted upon
revolutionary principles. the idea of the constitutional liberty, of self-government. the idea of rights, national rights and constitutional rights from england. that shaped in massachusetts and throughout the colonies to form with each other. anyway, thank you very much for your attention. i appreciate it. and i'll be glad to answer all of your questions. [applause] tony: don't all jump in at once. yes? thank you. >> what about things like measles, mumps, and rubella, and even if chronic lyme disease exists, and in thinking about it
in one way, it's easy to ascribe the reaction of the colonists to this, because it was unknown. correct me if i'm wrong, there was no germs and diseases. they didn't really even know why people were getting smallpox when they scarred up their arms. my real question, you could argue in the current day they are living in unprecedented health and longevity. and yet humans still respond to the same day to the issue. my question to you is that really historically, we are not really that different. or is it that there's something about being human that makes us respond this way. tony: yeah, great question. first of all, let me gently correct you. because cotton mather had an amazingly modern
period of the germ theory of disease. he and some other scientists in europe had looked under the low power microscope and saw some things moving around in there. and to do stuff they might be some kind of disease that you could ingest into your body. either through the pores of your skin, food, water, maybe it was in the clothing and the air. you could breathe is in through your nose and mouth. and so he developed the idea -- helped, you know, a lot of other people. he believed in the idea, i should say, that disease originally is outside the body. which would radically change western medicine. you know, it was in the old way of thinking, it was balance of the humer. you know, you are slamming your bile and your blood. that's why they did their believing and purging and all of those wonderful cures back then. but mather did have a concept of the disease he called the anumiculi. the things swimming around and cause disease.
170 years before pasture and all of those guys. as for today, i think you already answered my question. let's look at h1n1, for example. people were afraid. people in my children's school got sick and when the children got sick, i mean we were careful of sending them to school or sending them for a birthday party or so forth. there was a lot of fear. the same fear chased 1000 people away in boston and made them hide in their homes and business wasn't conducted anymore and people still went to the churches to pray to god. but the social interactions were really diminished during the epidemic. people were afraid for their lives.
and, you know, the whole debate over vaccinations in general. there was also a huge debate in blogs and on facebook and i saw some of my friends doing this about the whole inoculation, and vaccination with the swine flu. people were afraid, just like then, they didn't trust the authorities with it. they had a very vigorous debate about it. it's odd how many similarities there are actually. and i think the answer is exactly what you said. i think that stretches across 300 miles -- i'm sorry, 300 years across the miles across the centuries, there's something about cotton mather, franklin brothers, dr. boyleson and douglas, no different from us.
the fear they had, the mothers taking care of the children. i mean, we'd like to create, you know, we make historical figures and we think in many ways they weren't human. but they were fully human. probably not all that dependent us. maybe different clothes and hair styles. but their reaction was very human. >> i ask you please -- [inaudible question] >> is there any way to tell the raging debate was from the opinion leaders. tony: right. >> is there any way to tell from other accounts who got -- how people were pursuaded. ordinary people mostly with the doctors or mostly with the pastors or in between and data on that. tony: i don't think it's that easy to tell. because most of the diaries and
letters and so forth were by the same opinion leaders, you might say. the great resources and letters of cotton mather, i think letters, you know, all of these guys left very, very important records for us. there were obviously -- i mean the town was very divided. let me just say that. i mean we can't get into the exact numbers. but we can certainly tell that they were divided. because a lot of people did get inoculated. and but also a lot of people including some bomb -- one bomb thrower was outraged by the practice. and you know, it was for and against. you think it's impossible to quantify. but it's just like today. going back to the idea. there were people for and against getting your kids inoculated against h1n1. i think the most important thing is just the outrage and the debate itself.
is there support, outrage? and this really tears about the social fabric and that's really the most important part of the story. good question. >> do you touch at all on the kind of medical education that was available in the early 18th century? tony: uh-huh. >> wasn't it a kind of individualistic apprenticeship rather than academia? tony: absolutely. he studied in europe on the back water of boston and really frowned upon the people. he suffered from the same disease of vanity. so did a lot of people in this debate.
yes, they apprenticed, they read the classical text. and there was folk medicine that was handed down. and they use all of this to practice their medicine. and again, people encouraged them and it was very interesting to see how the women of boston had the same medical knowledge. this was, you know, basically common wisdom at the time. you are absolutely right. mather had studied medicine at harvard, as i said, had a collection of 3000 books. there was a long tradition in new england of these physician ministers who would be at the service of their flock not only spiritually, but medically. douglas does attack mather for meddling in medicine during the whole debate. the simple fact they had a long tradition. he's not out of the mainstream.
in the united states -- an 18th centuray building. and the historical society in gilford and madison has operated closely with the preservation of this very important building just as we have worked on the preservation of the smallpox have you studied any of that in america and did boston have a so-called test house? tony: right. yeah. they did. it was out in the harbor. in fact, boyleson tries to bring back inoculate. and again, even know 250 people were inoculated, the town is outdangerred again. i feel that towards the end. the town authorities forced those few people to go because that's how they quarantined people and ships when there was disease. i think maybe in 1949.
i know if that competed for the old. they had the countermeasures in place. they weren't lax or more careful about enforcing them. that was their usual defense. try to quarantine the people and pray. that was their primary defense. but it came about every generation. >> thank you for the your talk. why did you choose to write about this? tony: why wouldn't you write about this? it's fascinating. i was working on a book about benjamin franklin, and we were working on another book and i was coming on every two or three
pages in a book found in r.j. julia. i wanted more detail. i just mentioned in an offhanded way to my editor. he said, that's it. i was immediately consumed by it. started digging around all of the primary sources. reading a few older articles and even one book about 40 or 50 years ago on the topic. and i was just taken in by it. and just the more i researched the odder and odder the debate got. i really wanted to tell the story. it came to fruition, of course. it's very pleasing for the author. it was a great story to tell and research in the whole debate
that was in boston in 1721. >> i have two questions, please. this is beyond the scope of your book, when did inoculation became to be accepted? tony: can i answer your first one? because i'm going to forget it. i just turned 40. i'm getting old. ok. very good question. because as i read, this debate continued to rage 1760, 1770. in fact, innoculators were driven out of town, they were banned from practicing inoculation all over the colony . it was strong in my own state of virginia, back when it was a colony.
they still felt you were spreading smallpox. they wouldn't get beyond that idea. let me just say if there's one, the doctors are right in taking them to task for not properly quarantining the people who are getting inoculated. they let them go out into the streets. in fact, one guy, joshua chiefer, even went out and fought a fire. 10 days after inoculation, he goes to fight the fire. he's, you know, has the ax, the bucket in his hands, he's building up a nice sweat, he's interacting with everyone around him. the minute he got to boyleson's house, he collapses. his smallpox erupts and they are just raging. can you imagine if you had
fought that fire next to mr. chiefer, you know, people were pretty outraged. so they were right that they in didn't properly do that. this took many, many decades. and obviously as we talked about, you know, inoculations are still not totally tested. interestingly, let me build upon something that i find fascinating. in the success of decades, they started doing all of these preparatory regimes which were completely unnecessary. they didn't do them in 1721. john adams, for example, i think he was inoculated from 1764. the doctor put him on a milk diet for a couple of weeks. then also gave him mercury. and he was poisoning one of our most important founding fathers. what would we do? no great hbo video. no american revolution. how would we teach our children?
his teeth in his mouth were kind of getting wiggly and getting ready to fall out. john adams was being poisoned. it was completely unnecessary. why? because of the hippocratic medicine. they wanted to get the humers in balance before they got inoculated. so, you can see a very interesting thing. science and superstition coexisted through the decades of the century. if you look at newton, galileo what did they do in their spare time? astrology, all of these other things. some of our most advanced sciences are the science of revolution. and they were also, many of them, devout christians and so forth. so all of these things continued to coexist. that's really one the arguments in of the book.
look at a figure like cotton mather. even many of the doctors of the town. they were men of science but they were also believers in christianity. they very easily reconciled and that's how the heavens go. this is very easily done. now you can ask your second question. >> could you recommend a biography or more reading about cotton mather? tony: i would start with "fox and the covenant." [laughter] tony: there's a lot of biographical detail.
i think it's called "cotton mathers." after you read "the pox and the covenant" and give it to all of your friends, relatives, it makes a great mother's day gift maybe father's day. after you read this, there are some great biographies which really, you know, despite the publication, we still have a very one-dimensional view of cotton mather. he's a witch hunter, right? he's just a fascinating character. you know, and i try to bring out that here's a guy, he's a man of the cloth. very devoted minister, man of science, but he's a father. he's a husband. in he's a public figure with certain authority but also certain concerns. he's a real philanthropist.
cotton mather, like many historical figures, they are fathers, husbands, complex figures. and in many ways, maybe not all that different from us. if i communicate to that -- that to you, i will be happy. >> i was wondering if you can tell us about how you write and do it in the morning at home research, how many hours, how many days, how long does it take to write a book? tony: right. you know, i thought as a writer, you know, i didn't have free time to go to the park and nice walk. the truth of being self-employed, it's hard to turn off sometimes. why? i don't know if you've been able
to tell, i love history, i taught for 10 years. i love teaching. and i love writing. i'm engrossed in the story. it's hard to turn off. as a father of two small children myself, i usually write when they are in school. every possible second from the morning -- i don't wake up at 4 a.m., ok. that's not my style. i'm more of a night owl. i'll write all day long, usually. then i put that unimportant stuff aside and spend time with my family, my kids. that's the good stuff in life. then, you know, i'll write in the evening. although sometimes generally i'll do my background reading or the reading of the sources. but most of the time, i like sitting in my library, my biblioteca, and arranging the
beauties on my shelf and be engrossed in books. then, you know, i like to get out. i'm a people person. writing can be solitary. if you are in town, maybe you'll catch me there with my next book. but the actual book itself, i mean, between the research and the writing and trying to compose the very dramatic narratives around the stories. because i've always thought, hey, if you are going to write about history, why not make it about yourself? why not give young people the love of history and citizens alike. then, you know, you obviously have editing and so forth. so the whole process of a little
over a year. of course, in the editing process and reaching between getting stuff with the editor and e-mail and start to develop and research hopefully. >> just a quick follow-up. in terms of research, has the internet made it easier? do you still have a travel to a lot of libraries? tony: right. an interesting question. i don't use the internet for any research. but the sources electronically it makes it a lot easier than 50 or 60 years ago in the archives and brush off of the dust. it's amazing. i live five minutes from the college of william and mary, they have amazing resources that you can imagine. there's a database over at colonial williamsburg
rockefeller library which i'm subscribed to and you can see every single colonial newspaper in existence. isn't that amazing? you just go to the computer, you click a button and pull up "boston gazette" april 20, 1961 and read it. every pamphlet like that on a database. it's just amazing. and cotton mathers, one the letters or one of the friends that douglas was writing letters to. all of their letters and diaries are in print. they are great. well, i wanted to. but of course my only is i catch
the bosox game and it's amazing the amount of research it can do, research libraries. again, i don't use the internet but like electronic communication and information have really made things a lot easier for scholars. ok. >> how did people treat each other when a certain group had been inoculated and other people hadn't? were they angry with each other? people who do and don't take care of themselves. i wonder if you can comment on that. tony: essentially, i didn't find evidence either way. we can speculate and imagine that, you know, they didn't know a lot about what works.
they tested it and retested it to show that it works. they didn't know maybe what the long-term consequences would be. they assumed it would inoculate someone for life. they probably weren't positive until they had some evidence about it. i think the anger was directed more at boylston or other ministers, people who were inoculating others. they did not necessarily blame the people who work inoculating. you raise an interesting point i want to extrapolate. the first person to go ashore in boston was an african sailor. he infected another african sailor who resided in boston. what's interesting is in all of this, no one ever actually blamed them for their race.
i found no evidence of it. i thought that was interesting. it's really fascinating, this whole thing -- you have the eradication of smallpox, and who do we trace it back to? non-western parts of the world. it's fascinating how they were able to use this full medicine via practice in africa, greece and turkey, china, as it came to the attention of society back in 1800. i'm not sure that they could always explain it, either. they knew that it worked, and they were able to transmit this information to these enlightened europeans and colonists, who were experiencing their scientific revolution and the enlightenment. it's fascinating to trace all this.
never claimed to be a genius. i think that was a very interesting part of the story. again, thank you very much for your attention. [applause] >> one last question, actually. as later people were being inoculated was it more the wealthy people who were able to afford it? or that those who had money could be inoculated and poorer people could not? tony: i do not know specifically. obviously, there was a cost associated, and you would have to take several weeks off of work while you were experiencing. this was a long process, and you are right -- not everyone could necessarily afford to do so. which rings me to an interesting point that george washington's stepson wanted to get inoculated because he was going to do a grand tour of europe, but martha
washington was terribly afraid because she had lost some of her other children. she had lost her father, i think her brother, all in a very short time. she was terribly afraid her two children that her daughter actually had epilepsy and would die pretty soon after 1771, but jackie went and got inoculated and did not tell his mother. george, his stepfather, actually conspired with him to allow him to get inoculated and hit it -- kid -- hid it from market. you can imagine her outrage. she would never have given her permission. she was terribly terribly afraid of using her children. a kind of puts to lightly whole idea among historians that because that was so ubiquitous people died early, parents would regularly outlive their children
-- the belief was that they did not care about their children as much, did not form attachments. easley it you read the letters and diaries of all these historical figures, you know that that is simply not true. they were just like us. >> thank you. [applause] wonderful talk. >> on history bookshelf, here from the country's best-known american history writers of the past decade every saturday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. to watch these programs anytime, visit our website www.c-span.org/history. you are watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. >> congress established the veterans history project in 2000 as part of the american folklife center at the library of congress.
oral histories from the nation's veterans, which are available to the general public, are stored there. next, as part of our look at congressmen congressman who served in the military, we hear from representative ralph hall of texas. he discusses his world war ii enlistment in the navy and his experiences as an aircraft carrier pilot. this 30-minute interview was conducted in 2003. >> what branch of service were you in? rep. hall: i served in the navy. >> what rank did you start with? >> you were a cadet when you into the program. when we graduated, we got our wings one morning and our commission that afternoon. i got my wife that night. we got married the same day i got my wings. first promotion was lieutenant grade and the second promotion was full lieutenant. i always wanted to stay until i
got to be commander, that way my wife would get to call me commander, but i did not get to stay that long and i doubt she would have called me commander if i had. >> being in the navy, when did you in list -- a list? rep. hall: i joined in december 1942. they had had some of the major battles by that time, and actually i started out at the university of texas in roberts hall. we were stationed there, so i guess that was flight press. we went from there to memphis for another flight prep, and athens georgia. that was kind of like a boot camp. we were stationed there at the university of georgia. 20 of us were picked up, though from