July 23, 1788: The "Grand Federal Procession," a colorful endorsement of the new Federal Constitution by the city’s artisans, proceeds down Broadway.
Pewterer’s Banner, 1788. Silk, paint. New-York Historical Society Museum, Gift of James S. Haring, 1903.12
The first use of biological warfare would happen during Pontiac’s War. On June 22, 1763 the Lenni-Lenape (also known as the Delaware) began a siege of Fort Pitt. It was vitally important that Fort Pitt be relieved soon—not only to save the lives of those inside, but to free those soldiers up so they could stop other First Nation peoples from raiding (the siege of the fort enabled raids to go much further and deeper into settled lands than they would normally be able to do).
Lieutenant Colonel Henry Bouqet was put in charge of the relief expedition. On June 29, 1763 he received a letter from Lord Jeffrey Amherst (who was governor of Qubec at that time). In that letter Amherst made the following suggestion:
"Could it not be contrived to Send the Small Pox among those disaffected Tribes of Indians? We must, on this occasion, Use Every Stratagem in our power to Reduce them.
Bouqet replied on July 13, 1763:
I will try to inocculate the Indians by means of Blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself.
He received final go ahead from Amherst on July 16, 1763:
"You will Do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execreble Race."
It’s unclear whether or not Bouqet actually attempted to carry this out or not. However officers at Fort Pitt had come up with the idea as well, and had given a visiting Lenni Lenape delegation some infected blankets on June 24.
In early June there had been a smallpox infection at the fort, and some of the infected clothing had been put aside. On June 24, 1763 two Lenni Lenape, Turtle’s Heart and Mamaltee, came to the Fort to offer the British a chance to surrender and retreat. The British refused to abandon the fort, but did fulfill the request for provisions for their journey back.
The diary of William Trent, a trader at the fort, had this to say of the exchange:
"Out of our regard for them, we gave them two Blankets and a Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."
An invoice submitted by Trent and his associations and certified by Captain Ecuyer also adds this:
"To Sundries got to Replace in Kind those which were taken from people in the Hospital to Convey the Smallpox the Indians Viz: 2 Blankets […], 1 Silk Handkerchief […], & 1 linnen do […]".
There are a couple of key things that I want to note here.
1.) This is the only recorded instance of the deliberate spread (or the attempted spread) of disease among native populations in either North or South America.
2.) It’s exceedingly unlikely that the Lenni-Lenape who contracted smallpox did so through the infected clothing. The smallpox virus spreads just fine with contact between people, but on it’s own it’s quite fragile. If the virus is exposed for even a couple of days it will die. To be transmitted by clothing would require an infected person coughing on it (or otherwise getting infected bodily fluids on it), and then that piece of clothing be given to another person.
3.) There were already smallpox outbreaks in the area before this attempt by the British at Fort Pitt, and it’s far more likely that the smallpox epidemic that hit the Lenni-Lenape was part of the same epidemic that hit the northeast and Great Lakes area during the same time.
(I think this will wrap up my posts on Pontiac’s War today which were inspired by a question in my inbox last night.)
This isn’t the first recorded use of biological warfare in world history though.
There’s been quite a few sieges in history where the besiegers would throw rotting corpses into the walls.
Also, in ruins of the pre-Mayan civilization, wells and cisterns have been found with executed prisoners at the bottom, meaning that there were attempts to poison the city’s water supplies.
Ah. Also the throwing foul things by catapult since God knows when to create epidemic during sieges. But maybe because of the ‘systematic viral disease’ used there?
I agree with the commenters, this is not the first instance of biological warfare. Still fascinating, nonetheless.
America’s heritage breeds
In our age of commercialization, it is easy to forget how deep it affects the world we know. The very animals — those we raise, we use for work, we eat — look different from those our ancestors knew. This is a detail not to be overlooked.
Not all of these animals have disappeared with time. There are many organizations devoted to preserving these heritage breeds. Here are some of them, including a few members of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy:
The Livestock Conservancy:
Conner Prairie Interactive History Park:
(Thank you, Tumblr user fieryone for the tip on this museum!)
The Farmers’ Museum:
George Washington’s Mount Vernon:
Old Sturbridge Village:
To find out the heritage breeds represented here, click on my pictures to read the captions!
For my research, I am examining the accounts of English-American settlers captured by Native Americans. Mary Jemison is probably the most famous account of a white woman who was captured by Native Americans and then eventually decided to stay among them.
"In 1753, fifteen year old Mary Jemison was captured by Indians along the Pennsylvania frontier during the Seven Years’ War between the French, English, and Indian peoples of North America. She was adopted and incorporated into the Senecas, a familiar practice among Iroquois and other Indian peoples seeking to replace a lost sibling or spouse. Mary married and raised a family in the decades before and after the American Revolution; many captives, once adopted and integrated into an Indian community, refused the opportunity to return home, finding life in Indian society more rewarding. In 1823 Mary Jemison related her life story to James Seaver, a doctor who lived near her home in western New York. Seaver’s story of “the white woman of the Genessee,” as she became known, sold over 100,000 copies in 1824."
( http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5794/ )
You can still visit the cabin that belonged to Mary Jemison’s daughter in Letchworth State Park in southwestern New York State. (More about that here: http://www.letchworthparkhistory.com/jem.html )
This drawing was made with ballpoint pen, Prismacolor markers and Prismacolor colored pencils.
Hey, ladies. The next time some reenacting group tries to tell you that you have to wear skirts, that you can’t dress as men and fight in the war, just mention these bad-ass ladies and tell those reenactors to kindly shove it up their derrières.
Anne Hennis Trotter Bailey (upper picture): https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/ann-trotter-bailey/ and http://www.wvdar.org/AnneBailey/history.htm and http://madannebailey.blogspot.com/
Deborah Sampson (lower picture): http://gardenofpraise.com/ibdsamp.htm
"Women and Combat: Why They Serve": http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1015&context=inquiry_2008
The Continental Line’s “Women Soldiers in the American Revolution”: http://www.continentalline.org/articles/article.php?date=0002&article=000202
Veterans of Foreign Wars’ “Women at War: From the Revolutionary War to the Present”: https://vfw.org/uploadedFiles/VFW.org/News_and_Events/vfw_women_at_war.pdf
And any time a historical site manager tries to tell you that camp followers are unwelcome because they are historically inaccurate, kindly reference the following and tell them to shove it up their derrière.
Colonial Williamsburg: http://www.history.org/history/teaching/enewsletter/volume7/nov08/women_revarmy.cfm
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History: http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/war-for-independence/essays/women-and-wagoners-camp-followers-american-war-for-indepe
Sons of Liberty Revolutionary War Archives: http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/campfollow.html
In the Words of Women: http://inthewordsofwomen.com/?cat=34