Jefferson and Franklin fought against anti-vaccination

The Smithsonian tells us America’s “founding fathers” promoted and spread early forms of vaccines very widely.

Jefferson had given 200 members of his extended family and neighbors the vaccine by August of 1800

When they didn’t, they experienced a devastation of regret for not having vaccinated more.

Both Jefferson and Franklin had to argue with the early anti-vaccination movement. For Franklin, some of the discussion veered from the scientific into the personal: One of his sons died of smallpox at age 4, six years before Jenner discovered cowpox’s use. Some thought that little Franky had died after his father inoculated him with smallpox. But those were just ugly rumors. Franklin wrote in his autobiography: “In 1736 I lost one of my sons, a fine boy of four years old, by the small-pox, taken in the common way. I long regretted bitterly, and still regret that I had not given it to him by inoculation.”

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