The Siege of “Castle Pox”

The people got what they wanted. Public inoculations. These revolutionaries regarded it as a duty of their government to provide inoculation to all citizens and a citizen's responsibility to be inoculated and to follow the public health rules.

Lecture Description

The Siege of Castle Pox or the destruction of Essex Hospital in January 1774 in Marblehead, Massachusetts, is one of least known but most explosive events in the history of the American Revolution and the history of public health. A group of sailors destroyed an expensive private inoculation hospital meant to protect residents from an epidemic of smallpox. This lecture will detail the crisis and explain why these sailors destroyed the building. (Hint: they were not anti-inoculation but rather wanted inoculation to be provided for all for free). It’s a story that has implications for the study of the Revolution itself but also has interesting parallels for our own times with COVID-19 and the rise of anti-vaccination movements.


Public Health and Disease Revolutionary and Early National

ALL TOPICS & TITLES: Go back to all topics and titles.

More Distinguished Lectureship Program Resources