Smallpox in New England

Smallpox in New England

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Smallpox in New England


The original New England Natives first felt the effects of Smallpox and other diseases during the first decade of the sixteenth century. This was shortly after John Cabot explored the coast in 1498. By 1504, constant fishing trips were being made by the French and Portuguese, which started the spread of disease. However, It wasn’t until the outbreak of 1616 and 1617, when huge numbers of natives were killed. Diseases like chicken Pox, cholera, the plague, tuberculosis, and many others were introduced to New England for the first time. For the most part, Europeans had become immune to these diseases over the years. The natives, on the other hand, were completely vulnerable.¹

Native Americans were completely susceptible to contracting the disease, but they weren't the only victims. Twenty people died on the Mayflower as a result of smallpox. There was a smallpox outbreak in Plymouth Colony around 1633. Twenty people died including their only physician. This was the beginning of the colonial's struggle with the disease.

Smallpox became distinguishable as the most destructive disease in New England in 1633. From this date forward, smallpox continued to plague New England. Captain John Oldham was considered the first Englishman to conduct explorations along the Connecticut River. After his trip north, there was a severe breakout of smallpox. Many Natives held him responsible for the thousands of deaths that spread from Maine to New York and up into Quebec. The truth of the matter is Henry Hudson and his followers had already begun spreading the disease into New England from above, in Canada.

Quebec was established in 1608. The French found an oppurtunity to trade in nearby Ontario with both the Huron and Iroquois. This interaction led to a smallpox outbreak in the area between 1634 and 1640.²
In 1636, The Jesuits provided Hurons, Abenakis, and tribes of the St.

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