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Biological Weapons and the Ethics of War
As readers familiar with Hernán Cortés's smallpox-aided conquest of Mexico are no doubt aware, warfare and disease have historically come hand in hand. In many instances, accusations of biological sabotage have trailed close behind. One need only look to Thucydides' account of the plague of Athens, possibly the first description of smallpox on record, to find accusations that the unnamed pestilence arose from the malicious acts of a military foe. But late-eighteenth-century America differed from ancient Greece in a very important way: the technical knowledge required to carry out biological warfare was now commonplace. All that was needed was sufficient will and justification to perform the act. Today, in the post-Geneva Protocol era, many people find it hard to imagine an ethical construct that might affirm such behavior.(43) But eighteenth-century rules of war left much more room for excess. While victims of smallpox found the deliberate transmission of the disease reprehensible, army personnel found sanction for such actions in customary codes of international and military conduct.
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many of the widely accepted rules of European warfare had seen codification in Hugo Grotius's De jure belli ac pacis, first published in 1625, and Emmerich de Vattel's The Law of Nations, published in 1758. Both works established theoretical protections in war for women and children and for the elderly and infirm. They addressed the issue of surrender, and they determined when soldiers should give "quarter" to their enemies. Beyond all this, they also included strictures against the use of poison weapons and "the poisoning of streams, springs, and wells." In an era before microbiology, in which deadly toxins and infectious microbes were hardly distinguishable, it is nearly inconceivable that either Grotius or Vattel would have excluded communicable disease from the general category of "poisons."(44) All of these rules applied, theoretically at least, to "civilized" nations engaged in what were termed "just" wars.
For our purposes, ironically, the most important corollary to these customarily determined rules was that in certain situations, they did not apply. Cases in point included not only "unjust" wars but also rebellions, wars against enemies who themselves violated the laws of war, and wars against "savage" or "heathen" people. Vattel used the Turks and Mongols as his example, but his general point is clear: "nations are justified in uniting together as a body with the object of punishing, and even exterminating, such savage peoples." An earlier formulation of this philosophy had allowed the English to pursue brutal policies in Ireland, on the grounds that the Irish were not just rebels but (despite their professed Christianity) barbarians as well. More than one historian has argued that Ireland provided the English with a convenient ideological precedent for their actions in the New World. And colonists did indeed justify their own savage conduct in New England's seventeenth-century Indian wars by touting the "savagery" of the natives they brutalized.(45) In conflicts with "heathen" Indians, European rules of war gave license to unfettered violence, complete annihilation, and, yes, biological warfare.
Jeffery Amherst, for one, clearly adhered to this view. In 1763, during the summer of the Fort Pitt incident, Amherst stated his belief that total war against Native Americans was warranted. "Indeed," he wrote, "their Total Extirpation is scarce sufficient Attonement for the Bloody and Inhuman deeds they have Committed." Three weeks later he reiterated this opinion: "I shall only Say, that it Behoves the Whole Race of Indians to Beware . . . of Carrying Matters much farther against the English, or Daring to form Conspiracys, as the Consequence will most certainly Occasion measures to be taken, that, in the End will put a most Effectual Stop to their very being." Col. Henry Bouquet's sentiments mirrored those of his superior officer. It was Bouquet, after all, who was so enamored of a proposal to hunt Indians with dogs. "As it is a pity to expose good men against them," he wrote, "I wish we could make use of the Spaniard's method, and hunt them with English Dogs, Supported by Rangers, and some Light Horse, who would I think effectualy extirpate or remove that Vermine."(46) Brutality knew no bounds in wars with "savages," and in the view of these men, Native Americans clearly fit the bill.
Amherst and Bouquet were not alone. Backed by the force of both custom and law, many in the British military seem to have held similar beliefs. There is no evidence, for example, that the personnel who actually carried out the deed at Fort Pitt expressed any ethical qualms about their actions. Nor, apparently, did Gen. Thomas Gage, who succeeded Amherst as commander in chief. It was Gage, in the end, who approved the reimbursement of Levy, Trent and Company for "Sundries got to Replace in kind those which were taken from people in the Hospital to Convey the Smallpox to the Indians" at Fort Pitt. The British general made it clear in an accompanying note that he had read the invoice closely, and his authorization of payment carried with it a tacit approval of the actions taken. Years later, during the siege of Boston, American officials feared Gage would himself try to "spread the small-pox" in the Patriot forces surrounding the city. "If it is In Genral Gages power I Expect he will Send ye Small pox Into ye Army," wrote Seth Pomeroy, who had become acquainted with Gage during the Seven Years' War; "but I hope In ye Infinight Mercy of God he will prevent It, as he hath don In Every atempt that he has made yet."(47)
Although Gen. Thomas Gage did not replace Jeffery Amherst as commander in chief of British forces in North America until after the Fort Pitt episode, he apparently approved of the biological warfare attempt after the fact. Later, during the Revolutionary War, Americans feared Gage might try something similar at the siege of Boston. "I have been concerned lest General Gage should spread the small-pox in your army," the Rev. Thomas Allen warned Seth Pomeroy in 1775.
Courtesy National Archives of Canada / C-001347.
A footnote proposing the military use of smallpox against Americans during the Revolutionary War was excised from all but three known copies of Robert Donkin's Military Collections and Remarks (New York, 1777). The perpetrator and the date of the excision remain unknown.
Courtesy William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.
By comparison to the British, the Spanish and French faced comparatively few charges of wielding smallpox against Native Americans in the eighteenth century. But here too, evidence indicates that European officials and colonists might have been receptive to the idea. An account from Baja California describes a 1763 epidemic that erupted when "a traveling Spaniard who had just recently recovered from smallpox presented a shred of cloth to a native." The vague wording, however, makes it unclear whether the infection was deliberate. In 1752, during the jockeying that preceded the Seven Years' War, smallpox made an appearance among several Canadian Indian tribes. Charles Le Moyne de Longueuil, the temporary governor of Canada, observed how useful it would be if the disease took hold among the Ohio tribes who had recently gone over to the English: "'Twere desirable that it should break out and spread, generally, throughout the localities inhabited by our rebels. It would be fully as good as an army."(48) Wishful thinking is a far cry from contemplating or proposing the deliberate dissemination of smallpox. But the governor's comment does indicate a mind-set that might have approved of such action.
Far more ambiguity surrounded the use of smallpox against Americans of European descent—the allegation that surfaced repeatedly during the Revolutionary War. Nothing captured these moral tensions so clearly as a little book titled Military Collections and Remarks, published in British-occupied New York in 1777. Written by a British officer named Robert Donkin, the book proposed a variety of strategies the British might use to gain the upper hand in the American conflict. Among them was biological warfare. In a footnote to a two-page section on the use of bows and arrows, Major Donkin made the following suggestion: "Dip arrows in matter of smallpox, and twang them at the American rebels, in order to inoculate them; This would sooner disband these stubborn, ignorant, enthusiastic savages, than any other compulsive measures. Such is their dread and fear of that disorder!"(49)
Such ideas may have been common in verbal banter, but they rarely made it into print. What happened next is therefore revealing, for it shows how controversial the topic of biological warfare was during the American Revolution: Donkin's provocative footnote survives in only three known copies of his book. In all others, it has been carefully excised. The person responsible for this act is unknown, as is the timing. But the fact that only three known copies survived intact seems to indicate that the excision took place close to the time of publication, before the volume was widely distributed.(50) Likely perpetrators include the author, the publisher, or an agent acting on behalf of British high command. Someone may well have found thesuggestion morally offensive; or, in the battle for the "hearts and minds" of the American people, someone may have realized that explicit calls for biological warfare could only make enemies.
If the strategy was controversial, those who sought sanction for biological terror could nevertheless find it in customary codes of conduct. Donkin himself called the Americans "savages," and this alone countenanced the repudiation of behavioral constraints in war. The colonists, in fact, even cultivated a symbolic "Indian" identity in episodes such as the Boston Tea Party. But beyond this, the Americans were also "rebels." Sentiments regarding rebellion were changing, but popular insurrection, like savagery, could legitimate a war of unrestrained destruction—a war in which conventional strictures against biological warfare would not apply. Writing in 1758, Emmerich Vattel took a somewhat more moderate approach than Hugo Grotius had taken a century earlier. But there was no consensus on this among British officers. While some took a conciliatory stance early in the war, it appears that by 1779 a majority of British officers had become what one scholar has termed "hard-liners"—men who believed that "nothing but the Bayonet & Torch" could quell the colonial revolt. Included among them were men such as Banastre Tarleton, notorious for terrorizing the Carolina backcountry, and Charles Grey, famous for two nighttime bayonet attacks on sleeping American soldiers. In one of these attacks, Grey's men shouted "No Quarters to rebels" as they leapt upon their slumbering foes.(51)
If the mere fact of rebellion was grounds enough for such an attitude, the difficulties presented by long sieges and the Americans' unconventional fighting methods provided additional justification. In the view of many British soldiers, the Americans had themselves violated the rules of war many times over. Some took offense at the effective Patriot sniping during the retreat from Lexington. Others resented the withering musket fire at Bunker Hill, where General Gage's men believed "the Enemy Poisoned some of their Balls." Confronted by rebellion and frustrated by atrocities committed by a "savage" American enemy who often refused to face off head-to-head on the field of battle, British officers may well have believed the propagation of smallpox was justified and put this belief into practice, especially given the fact that the law of nations apparently permitted it. It is worth recalling that Jeffery Amherst, who had found biological warfare so unabashedly justifiable in 1763, was an extremely popular figure in England. According to the historian Robert Middlekauff, he was "probably the most admired military leader in the nation" during the era of the American Revolution.(52) That General Leslie and other British officers may have thought and acted as Amherst did should come as no surprise.
Predictably, accusations of willful smallpox infection subsided temporarily with the end of the Revolutionary War. They would resurface in the 1830s, when a terrible smallpox epidemic devastated Indians in the American West, striking many of the same tribes that had suffered under an equally deadly epidemic in the early 1780s. Fur traders circulating among Native Americans in the intervening years found that memories of the earlier outbreak were so strong that even the mere threat of willful infection could elicit compliance from uncooperative Indians.(53)
It is clear, however, that while Native Americans suffered most from smallpox, they were neither the only targets of its use on the battlefield nor the only ones who leveled the charge against others. The Fort Pitt incident, despite its notoriety, does not stand alone in the annals of early American history. Accusations of deliberate smallpox propagation arose frequently in times of war, and they appear to have had merit on at least one occasion—the Yorktown campaign—during the American Revolution. Elsewhere the evidence is often ambiguous. But it nevertheless indicates that the famous Fort Pitt incident was one in a string of episodes in which military officials in North America may have wielded Variola against their enemies. Justification for doing so could be found in codes of war that legitimated excesses even as they defined constraints. Biological warfare was therefore a reality in eighteenth-century North America, not a distant, abstract threat as it is today. Its use was aimed, as one patriot writer accusingly put it in the year of Yorktown, "at the ruin of a whole Country, involving the indiscriminate murder of Women and Children."(54)
1) William Trent, "William Trent's Journal at Fort Pitt, 1763," ed. A. T. Volwiler, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 11 (Dec. 1924), 400. For an excellent appraisal of the Fort Pitt episode that places it in the context of the larger and more complicated struggle for control of the Ohio Valley, see Michael N. McConnell, A Country Between: The Upper Ohio Valley and Its Peoples, 1724-1774 (Lincoln, 1992), 194-96. For an example of an Internet discussion devoted to biological warfare and smallpox, see the h-oieahc discussion log for April 1995, available at http://www.h-net.msu.edu/logs/. For the contention that the attempt at biological warfare was "unquestionably effective at Fort Pitt," see Francis Jennings, Empire of Fortune: Crowns, Colonies, & Tribes in the Seven Years War in America (New York, 1990), 447-48, 447n26. On the issue of timing, see Bernhard Knollenberg, "General Amherst and Germ Warfare," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 41 (Dec. 1954), 489-94; Bernhard Knollenberg to editor, "Communications," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 41 (March 1955), 762; and Donald H. Kent, to editor, ibid., 762-63. For a cross-cultural analysis of the incident's place in a pantheon of other such "legends," see Adrienne Mayor, "The Nessus Shirt in the New World: Smallpox Blankets in History and Legend," Journal of American Folklore, 108 (Winter 1995), 54-77.
2) A thorough appraisal of the use of biological warfare in the prescientific era can be found in Mark Wheelis, "Biological Warfare before 1914," in Biological and Toxin Weapons: Research, Development, and Use from the Middle Ages to 1945, ed. Erhard Geissler and John van Courtland Moon (Oxford, 1999), 8-34.
3) For a summary of the documentation of this incident, see Knollenberg, "General Amherst and Germ Warfare," 489-94; and Kent to editor, "Communications," 762-63. While my conclusions differ from Knollenberg's, much of the evidence consulted is the same. Simeon Ecuyer to Henry Bouquet, June 16, 1763 [translation], in The Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Sylvester K. Stevens and Donald H. Kent (30 series, Harrisburg, 1940-1943), series 21649, part 1, p. 153. The series numbers cited here correspond to the Additional Manuscripts classification of the British Museum, London, where the original manuscripts are stored. These numbers are also printed in the published version of the papers. Because libraries holding the published Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet have bound them in a variety of configurations, I have cited the series number rather than the volume number to make the precise location of each reference clear. Bouquet to Jeffery Amherst, June 23, 1763, ibid., ser. 21634, p. 196.
4) Alexander McKee gives the name of the second Delaware representative as "Maumaidtee." Alexander McKee, Report of Speeches of the Delaware Indians [addressed to George Croghan], Fort Pitt, June 24, 25, 1763, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21655, p. 210; Trent, "William Trent's Journal at Fort Pitt," ed. Volwiler, 400.
5) Levy, Trent and Company: Account against the Crown, Aug. 13, 1763, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21654, pp. 218-19. While the account was submitted for payment in August, the items in it are all listed under the date "1763 June." As Mark Wheelis has pointed out, readers should note that William Trent refers to a single handkerchief in his journal, while the invoice is for two: one silk, one linen. Wheelis, "Biological Warfare before 1914," 23n73.
6) Memorandum by Sir Jeffery Amherst, [July 7, 1763], in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21634, p. 161. (Stevens and Kent tentatively assign the undated document the date of May 4, 1763, but this is apparently an error.) Bouquet to Amherst, Aug. 11, 1763, ibid., 243; Bouquet to Amherst, July 13, 1763, in Jeffery Amherst, Official Papers, 1740-1783 (microfilm, 202 reels, World Microfilms Publications, 1979), reel 32, frame 305. The published typescript of this last document deviates in important ways from the original. See Bouquet to Amherst, July 13, 1763, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21634, p. 214. For the July 16 letter, see Amherst to Bouquet, July 16, 1763, in Amherst, Official Papers, reel 33, frame 114. Here the deviations in the published typescript are insignificant. See Memorandum by Sir Jeffery Amherst, [July 16, 1763], in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21634, p. 161. (Stevens and Kent tentatively assign the date of May 4, 1763, to this document as well, but this is incorrect.)
7) Deposition of Gershom Hicks, April 14, 1764, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21650, part 1, p. 102. Five days later, under pressure from Fort Pitt officials, Hicks recanted much of his testimony and de-emphasized the Indians' martial intentions. He apparently made no reference to smallpox in his second deposition. William Grant, Re-Examination of Gershom Hicks, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21651, pp. 7-10. For more on Hicks, see Edward Ward to Sir William Johnson, May 2, 1764, in The Papers of Sir William Johnson, ed. Milton W. Hamilton (14 vols., Albany, 1921-1965), XI, 169-71. On the Virginia Indians, see Andrew Lewis to Bouquet, Sept. 10, 1764, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21650, part 2, p. 127. For Killibuck's account, see William Johnson, Journal of Indian Affairs, [Johnson Hall, March 1-3, 1765], in Papers of Sir William Johnson, ed. Hamilton, XI, 618. On the possibility of multiple sources of infection, see McConnell, Country Between, 195-96. M'Cullough's report is in Archibald Loudon, ed., A Selection, of Some of the Most Interesting Narratives, of Outrages, Committed by the Indians, in Their Wars, with the White People (1808; 2 vols., New York, 1977), I, 331. Knollenberg has emphasized Gershom Hicks's testimony that smallpox had ravaged the Indians "since last spring." He believes this means the disease was present among nearby tribes even before Fort Pitt personnel distributed the infected blankets on June 24. While it is possible that Knollenberg is right, he may also be investing too much precision into what Hicks intended as a general statement. Hicks had only been captured in May, and June might well be considered "spring" in the hills of western Pennsylvania. Knollenberg, "General Amherst and Germ Warfare," 494.
8) Such a communication might have been either written or oral in form. It is also possible that documents relating to such a plan were deliberately destroyed.
9) For the eradication certificate, see F. Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication (Geneva, 1988), frontispiece. On clandestine supplies, see "Virus in the Deep-Freeze?," U.S. News & World Report, Oct. 2, 1995, p. 27; Richard Preston, "The Bioweaponeers," New Yorker, March 9, 1998, pp. 62-65; and New York Times, June 13, 1999, pp. A1, A12. The United States announced on April 22, 1999, that it would not destroy its stores of the smallpox virus in large part because of the threat of bioterrorism: New York Times, April 23, 1999, p. A3. On the possibility that smallpox could be released in the course of archaeological excavations, see Joseph Kennedy, "The Archaeological Recovery of Smallpox Victims in Hawaii: Scientific Investigation or Public Health Threat?," Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 37 (Summer 1994), 499-510; Peter Razzell, "Smallpox Extinction—a Note of Caution," New Scientist, July 1, 1976, p. 35; and W. B. Ewart, "Causes of Mortality in a Subarctic Settlement (York Factory, Man.) 1713-1946," Canadian Medical Association Journal, 129 (Sept. 1983), 571-74.
10) Thomas Babington Macaulay, The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, ed. Charles Harding Firth (6 vols., London, 1914), V, 2468; Edward Jenner, An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of Variolae Vaccinae or Cow-Pox (London, 1798).
11) Modern medical science has recognized two strains of the virus: Variola major and Variola minor. Variola minor, however, did not emerge until the closing years of the nineteenth century. Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 242-43.
12) Hemorrhagic smallpox, according to A. Ramachandra Rao's study of approximately 7,000 cases of smallpox, occurred in only 2.4 percent of all cases; it was, however, notably more common among women, occurring in 22 percent of smallpox cases among pregnant women. Rao also reports that 62 percent of patients with confluent smallpox died. A. Ramachandra Rao, Smallpox (Bombay, 1972), 8, 126, 25.
13) Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 55; Hans-Joachim Voth and Timothy Leunig, "Did Smallpox Reduce Height? Stature and the Standard of Living in London, 1770-1873," Economic History Review, 49 (no. 3, 1996), 541-60.
14) Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 186-87, 1322-33.
15) Ibid., 182-87; and A. W. Downie et al., "The Recovery of Smallpox Virus from Patients and Their Environment in a Smallpox Hospital," Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 33 (1965), 615-22.
16) Studies indicate that Variola virus in scabs "could retain infectivity at room temperature for years." Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 115-16, table 2.11. On laundry workers and the survival of smallpox in cotton and bedding, see Downie et al., "Recovery of Smallpox Virus," 622; C. O. Stalleybrass, The Principles of Epidemiology and the Process of Infection (London, 1931), cited in Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 194; Cyril William Dixon, Smallpox (London, 1962), 300-302, 419-21; and F. O. MacCullum and J. R. McDonald, "Survival of Variola Virus in Raw Cotton," Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 16 (1957), 247-54.
17) On Anthony van Leeuwenhoek, see W. Barry Wood Jr., From Miasmas to Molecules (New York, 1961), 14-16. On the etiology of the diseases listed, see Bernard D. Davis et al., Microbiology: Including Immunology and Genetics (Hagerstown, 1973), 780, 803-4, 851-52, 904-8, 1379, 1384-87.
18) William Douglass to Cadwallader Colden, May 1, 1722, in "Letters from Dr. William Douglass to Dr. Cadwallader Colden of New York," ed. Jared Sparks, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 32 (1854), 168. This episode led to one of the most famous smallpox epidemics in American history, culminating in the "inoculation controversy" and the fire-bombing of Cotton Mather's house. Ola Elizabeth Winslow, A Destroying Angel: The Conquest of Smallpox in Colonial Boston (Boston, 1974), 44-45. On the fire-bombing, see Cotton Mather, The Diary of Cotton Mather, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 68 (1912), 657-58. On the Creek Indians, see James Adair, Adair's History of the American Indians, ed. Samuel Cole Williams (1930; New York, 1966), 364. On the Charleston outbreak, see Suzanne Krebsbach, "The Great Charlestown Smallpox Epidemic of 1760," South Carolina Historical Magazine, 97 (Jan. 1996), 30-37. On Williamsburg, see Wyndham B. Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century (Richmond, 1931), 285, 287; and John Duffy, Epidemics in Colonial America (Baton Rouge, 1953), 39.
19) Thomas Jefferson to John Page, Jan. 20, 1763, in Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd (27 vols., Princeton, 1950- ), I, 8; Abigail Adams to John Adams, March 31, 1776, in The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlander, and Mary-Jo Kline (Cambridge, Mass., 1975), 120; "From the Bagge MS. 1779," in Records of the Moravians in North Carolina, ed. Adelaide L. Fries (8 vols., Raleigh, 1922-1969), III, 1283.
20) New York Provincial Congress to J. Hancock, Nov. 2, 1775 (microfilm: microcopy 247, reel 81, item 67, vol. 1, p. 129), Papers of the Continental Congress, rg 360 (National Archives, Washington, D.C.); Virginia Committee of Safety, Proceedings of the Committee, April 30, 1776, in Robert L. Scribner and Brent Tarter, eds., Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence, a Documentary Record (7 vols., Charlottesville, -1983), VI, 496; summary of letter from George Muter, March 8, 1781, in Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Boyd, V, 96-97.
21) On the European acquisition of inoculation, see Donald R. Hopkins, Princes and Peasants: Smallpox in History (Chicago, 1983), 46-51. On the resurgence of smallpox in Europe, see Genevieve Miller, The Adoption of Inoculation for Smallpox in England and France (Philadelphia, 1957), 29-35. Mather's account of his interview with Onesimus can be found in George Lyman Kittredge, ed., "Lost Works of Cotton Mather," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 45 (Feb. 1912), 422.
22) See Hopkins, Princes and Peasants, 109; and Fenner et al., Smallpox and Its Eradication, 165, 252-53, 268. For comparative case fatality rates, see ibid., 246.
23) Abigail Adams to John Adams, Aug. 5, 1776, in Book of Abigail and John, ed. Butterfield, Friedlander, and Kline, 150-51; William Nelson to John Norton, Feb. 27, 1768, in John Norton & Sons, Merchants of London and Virginia, Being the Papers from Their Counting House for the Years 1750 to 1795, ed. Frances Norton Mason (Richmond, 1937), 38.
24) The Jesuits faced many such allegations in seventeenth-century New France. See Reuben Gold Thwaites, ed., The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents: Travels and Explorations of the Jesuit Missionaries in New France, 1610-1791 (74 vols., Cleveland, 1896-1901), XI, 15, 39, XII, 85, 237, XIII, 215, XIV, 53, 103, XV, 19-35, XVI, 39, 53-55, XX, 28-31, 73, XXX, 227, XXXIX, 125-31.
25) Even the Aztecs may have tried to utilize such a strategy during the Spanish conquest from 1519 to 1521. Motecuhzoma reportedly asked his magicians to work "some charm" against the Spaniards that might "cause them to break out in sores" or even "cause them to fall sick, or die, or return to their own land." Ironically, it was the Aztecs, not the Spaniards, who succumbed en masse to smallpox. Miguel-Leon Portilla, ed., The Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston, 1966), 34. On Queen Anne's War, see Pierre-François-Xavier de Charlevoix, History and General Description of New France, ed. and trans. John Dawson Gilmary Shea (6 vols., New York, 1900), V, 221-22. For other incidents that may represent deliberate smallpox propagation on the part of Native Americans, see William Francis Butler, The Great Lone Land: A Tale of Travel and Adventure in the North-West of America (London, 1910), 367-72; and James G. McCurdy, By Juan de Fuca's Strait: Pioneering along the Northwestern Edge of the Continent (Portland, Oreg., 1937), 197.
26) D. Peter MacLeod, "Microbes and Muskets: Smallpox and the Participation of the Amerindian Allies of New France in the Seven Years' War," Ethnohistory, 39 (Winter 1992), 42-64. On the epidemic among the Potawatomis, see ibid., 49; R. David Edmunds, The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire (Norman, 1978), 55-56; and James A. Clifton, The Prairie People: Continuity and Change in Potawatomi Indian Culture, 1665-1965 (Lawrence, 1977), 102. The French, according to Cornelius Van Slyke, went to great lengths to convince the Indians "that in case they made peace with ye. English, they would soon repent it, as they [the British] would then come into their Villages, & thereby destroy em by poison, Small Pox & ca. Which the Informant says they believe as much as can be." William Johnson, "Examination of Cornelius Van Slyke," July 21, 1767, Native American History Collection (William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich.). I would like to thank John Dann of the Clements Library for sharing this document with me. For a valuable appraisal of the Fort William Henry affair, see Ian K. Steele, Betrayals: Fort William Henry & the "Massacre" (New York, 1990).
27) Andrew J. Blackbird, Complete Both Early and Late History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan, a Grammar of Their Language, Personal and Family History of the Author (Harbor Springs, Mich., 1897), 2-3. Another vaguely worded accusation against the French can be found in a letter dated November 1681: "we have forbidden the coming down of ninety Canoes belonging to Outawas, heavily laden with peltries, through apprehensions of the small pox (peste), which was introduced among that people by well-known vagabonds (libertins), against whom the Governor was unwilling that information should be lodged." M. du Chesneau to M. de Seignelay, Quebec, Nov. 13, 1681, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York: Procured in Holland, England, and France, ed. Edmund Bailey O'Callaghan (15 vols., Albany, 1853-1887), IX, 154. On the French blaming the British, see MacLeod, "Microbes and Muskets," 50-51.
28) John J. Heagerty, Four Centuries of Medical History in Canada (2 vols., Toronto, 1928), I, 44-45. William Warren was a native-born Ojibwa speaker and interpreter who devoted much of his life to recording the tribe's history and lore. William W. Warren, History of the Ojibway Nation (1884; Minneapolis, 1957), 257-62.
29) Steele, Betrayals, 135-38; unattributed quotation in Heagerty, Four Centuries of Medical History in Canada, I, 42.
30) Extract of a letter from Boston, author unknown, London Evening Post, March 25-28, 1775, reprinted in Margaret W. Willard, ed., Letters on the American Revolution, 1774-1776 (Boston, 1925), 57-58; George Washington to John Hancock, Dec. 14, 1775, in The Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, ed. W. W. Abbot and Dorothy Twohig (26 vols., Charlottesville, 1983- ), II, 548.
31) Robert H. Harrison to Council of Massachusetts, Dec. 3, 1775, in American Archives, ed. Peter Force, 4th ser. (6 vols., Washington, 1837-1853), IV, 168; Washington to Hancock, Dec. 4, 1775, in Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, ed. Abbot and Twohig, II, 486.
32) Washington to Hancock, Dec. 11, 1775, in Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, ed. Abbot and Twohig, II, 533; Washington to Hancock, Nov. 28, 1775, ibid., 447; Samuel Bixby, "Diary of Samuel Bixby," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 14 (March 1876), 297; Washington to James Otis Sr. [Mass. General Court], Dec. 10, 1775, in Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, ed. Abbot and Twohig, II, 526; John Morgan to Washington, Dec. 12, 1775, ibid., 541-42; Washington to Joseph Reed, Dec. 15, 1775, ibid., 553. On the servant refugee, see Boston Gazette and Country Journal, Feb. 12, 1776, p. 4. On Dr. Rand, see Ezekiel Price, "Diary of Ezekiel Price, 1775-1776," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 7 (Nov. 1863), 220.
33) George Washington, General Orders, March 13, 1776, in Papers of George Washington: Revolutionary War Series, ed. Abbot and Twohig, III, 458; Washington, General Orders, March 14, 1776, ibid., 466. "The Small pox prevails to such a degree in Boston," wrote Gen. Artemas Ward on July 4, "and so many of the Soldiers got the disorder, that I apprehend the remainder of them must soon be inoculated." Inoculations began that very day. Artemas Ward to Washington, July 4, 1776, ibid., V, 210; James Thacher, A Military Journal of the American Revolution (Boston, 1823), 54; Whitfield J. Bell Jr., John Morgan, Continental Doctor (Philadelphia, 1965), 188; Price, "Diary of Ezekiel Price," 259.
34) Bayze Wells, "Journal of Bayze Wells of Farmington, May, 1775-February, 1777," Collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, 7 (1899), 267; and Lewis Beebe, "Journal of a Physician on the Expedition against Canada, 1776," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 59 (Oct. 1935), 337.
35) John Joseph Henry, "Campaign against Quebec," in March to Quebec: Journals of the Members of Arnold's Expedition, ed. Kenneth Roberts (New York, 1940), 374-75; Thomas Jefferson, "Notes of Witnesses' Testimony concerning the Canadian Campaign, July 1-27, 1776," in Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Boyd, I, 435, 437, 447-48; Thomas Jefferson, "Comments on Soulés' Histoire, August 8, 1786," ibid., X, 373, 377n24. Other members of Congress were likewise convinced by the evidence. In 1777 full-scale inoculation of the Continental Army began, in part to address the troops' vulnerability to biological warfare. In May 1777, the Foreign Affairs Committee offered the following explanation: "Our troops have been under inoculation for the small pox with good success which purgation we hope will be the means of preserving them from fever in the summer. however it will frustrate one canibal scheme of our enemies who have constantly fought us with that disease by introducing it among our troops." Foreign Affairs Committee to Commissioners in France, May 2, 1777 (reel 102, item 78, vol. 21, p. 99), Papers of the Continental Congress.
36) Caleb Haskell, "Diary at the Siege of Boston and on the March to Quebec," in March to Quebec, ed. Roberts, 482-83. The diarists Jacob Danford and Thomas Ainslie both stated that smallpox had "long raged in town." It should be noted that Danford's and Ainslie's diaries are suspiciously similar to one another as well as to the diary attributed to Hugh Finlay. Jacob Danford, "Journal of the Most Remarkable Occurrences in Quebec, by an Officer of the Garrison," New-York Historical Society Collections, 13 (1880), 181; Thomas Ainslie, Canada Preserved: The Journal of Captain Thomas Ainslie, ed. Sheldon S. Cohen (New York, 1968), 27; Hugh Finlay [?], "Journal of the Siege and Blockade of Quebec by the American Rebels, in Autumn 1775 and Winter 1776," Literary and Historical Society of Quebec, Historical Documents (no. 4, 1875), 5. American prisoners taken in the Americans' Dec. 31 attack on the city were granted permission to be inoculated in prison. See, for example, Francis Nichols, "Diary of Lieutenant Francis Nichols, of Colonel William Thompson's Battalion of Pennsylvania Riflemen, Jan. to Sept., 1776," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 20 (no. 4, 1896), 506; and John Topham, "The Journal of Captain John Topham, 1775-6," Magazine of History, 13 (extra no. 50, 1866; reprint, Tarrytown, N.Y., 1916), 30, 38-39. When the Americans fled on May 6, 1776, many of the sick were left behind on the Plains of Abraham. Noting "that many of his Majesty's deluded subjects of the neighbouring provinces, labouring under wounds and diverse disorders," were "in great danger of perishing for want of proper assistance," Carleton ordered his men "to make diligent search for all such distressed persons, and afford them all necessary relief, and convey them to the general hospital, where proper care shall be taken of them." Carleton's orders are reprinted in Andrew Parke, An Authentic Narrative of Facts Relating to the Exchange of Prisoners Taken at the Cedars (London, 1777), 4-5.
37) The best account of Dunmore's Ethiopian Regiment remains Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1961), 19-32. The accusation can be found in Dixon and Hunter's Virginia Gazette, June 15, 1776, quoted in Naval Documents of the American Revolution, ed. William Bell Clark, William James Morgan, and Michael J. Crawford (10 vols., Washington, D.C., 1964-1996), V, 554. By another account, five of Dunmore's sailors deserted before the governor left Norfolk. "They inform me they have the smallpox," wrote William Woodford. The relation, if any, between these deserters and the rumors of willful propagation of smallpox at the same time is not clear. "Extract of a letter from Col. [William] Woodford to General [Andrew] Lewis, dated Norfolk, May 22," ibid., 209.
38) John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, to the Secretary of State, June 26, 1776, in George W. Williams, History of the Negro Race in America from 1619-1800 (New York, 1885), 342, quoted in Gerald W. Mullin, Flight and Rebellion: Slave Resistance in Eighteenth-Century Virginia (New York, 1972), 132; "[James] Cunningham's Examination 18th July 1776," in Naval Documents of the American Revolution, ed. Clark, Morgan, and Crawford, V, 1136. An unnamed "fever" also afflicted the men as they underwent inoculation on Gwynn's Island at the mouth of the Piankatank River: "Narrative of Captain Andrew Snape Hamond, [H. M. S. Roebuck, June 1 to June 30]," ibid., 840. Deserters from Dunmore's force did carry smallpox ashore. In July "a man that called himself a deserter from Lord Dunmore" broke out with smallpox a day after joining a Maryland militia regiment. While the documentation reveals no direct accusation of malfeasance, the innuendo is clearly there. "I have spoken to Dr. Browne, who had the care of the fellow, and he says he thinks he was inoculated," wrote Lieutenant Bennett Bracco. Bennett Bracco to Maryland Council of Safety, July 26, 1776, in American Archives, ed. Peter Force, 5th ser. (3 vols., Washington, 1837-1853), I, 592. On July 23, Maj. Thomas Price likewise informed the Maryland Council of Safety that the infection had reached his camp on St. George's Island. "We have several Deserters from the Enemy most of them in the small Pox," he wrote. Thomas Price to the Maryland Council of Safety, July 23, 1776, in Naval Documents of the American Revolution, ed. Clark, Morgan, and Crawford, V, 1193.
39) Josiah Bartlett to William Whipple, April 21, 1777, in The Papers of Josiah Bartlett, ed. Frank C. Mevers (Hanover, N.H., 1979), 157-58. On Exeter, see Mary Bartlett to Josiah Bartlett, May 28, 1778, Box 1, Josiah Bartlett Papers, 1761-1794 (New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N.H.).
40) In London, smallpox had become endemic by this time. Moreover, in at least one rural area of England, the disease tended to appear in five-year cycles. Other rural areas were probably similar. British soldiers (and probably Hessians as well) were much more likely than Americans to have gone through smallpox in childhood. S. R. Duncan, Susan Scott, and C. J. Duncan, "The Dynamics of Smallpox Epidemics in Britain, 1550-1800," Demography, 30 (Aug. 1993), 405-23.
41) Josiah Atkins, The Diary of Josiah Atkins, ed. Steven E. Kagle (New York, 1975), 32-33; William Feltman, The Journal of Lt. William Feltman 1781-82 (1853; New York, 1969), 6; Thacher, Military Journal of the American Revolution, 337; Robert R. Livingston to Francis Dana, Oct. 22, 1781 (reel 102, item 78, vol. 21, p. 99), Papers of the Continental Congress. Franklin's accusation was direct: "Having the small-pox in their army while in that country, they inoculated some of the negroes they took as prisoners belonging to a number of plantations, and then let them escape, or sent them covered with the pock, to mix with and spread the disease among the others of their colour, as well as among the white country people; which occassioned a great mortality of both, and certainly did not contribute to the enabling debtors in making payment." Benjamin Franklin, "The Retort Courteous," in Writings: Benjamin Franklin, ed. J. A. Leo Lemay (New York, 1987), 1126-27.
42) Alexander Leslie to Charles Cornwallis, July 13, 1781 (microfilm: frames 280-81, reel 4), Cornwallis Papers, P.R.O. 30/11/6 (Public Record Office, London, Eng.). Johann Ewald, a Hessian soldier fighting for the British, felt that the loyal African Americans who absconded to the British were treated with great injustice when Cornwallis ordered them to leave camp: "I would just as soon forget to record a cruel happening. On the same day of the enemy assault, we drove back to the enemy all of our black friends, whom we had taken along to despoil the countryside. We had used them to good advantage and set them free, and now, with fear and trembling, they had to face the reward of their cruel masters." Johann Ewald, Diary of the American War: A Hessian Journal, ed. and trans. Joseph P. Tustin (New Haven, 1979), 335-36.
43) On Mexico, see Noble David Cook, Born to Die: Disease and New World Conquest, 1492-1650 (New York, 1998), 211-14. On the plague of Athens, see Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.48. The Geneva Protocol went into effect in 1928, prohibiting biological warfare among nations signing the agreement. League of Nations, Treaty Series, "Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous, or Other Gases, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare," signed at Geneva, June 17, 1925, entered into force Feb. 8, 1928, Publication of Treaties and International Engagements Registered with the Secretariat of the League, 94 (no. 2138, 1929), 65-74.
44) Hugo Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis libris tres, ed. James Brown Scott, trans. Francis W. Kelsey (1646; 3 vols., New York, 1964), III, 734-36, 739-40; Emmerich de Vattel, The Law of Nations: or, Principles of the Law of Nature; Applied to the Conduct and Affairs of Nations and Sovereigns (1758; New York, 1964), 280, 282-83, 289; Barbara Donagan, "Atrocity, War Crime, and Treason in the English Civil War," American Historical Review, 99 (Oct. 1994), 1149-51. Grotius and Vattel explicitly differentiated between poisoning an enemy's water supply and cutting it off completely. It was lawful, they said, to divert water flow or, in Vattel's words, to "cut it off at its source . . . in order to force the enemy to surrender." But poisoning the same water supply was forbidden. Vattel, Law of Nations, esp. 289; and Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis, 653.
45) Vattel, Law of Nations, 246. The Spanish friar Francisco de Vitoria had argued quite differently in the 1500s. "Even if the barbarians refuse to accept Christ as their lord, this does not justify making war on them or doing them any hurt": Franciscus de Victoria [Francisco de Vitoria], De Indis de ivre belli relaciones, ed. Ernest Nys (1917; New York, 1964), 137-38. On Ireland, see Nicholas Canny, "The Ideology of English Colonization: From Ireland to America," William and Mary Quarterly, 30 (Oct. 1973), 575-98; Barbara Donagan, "Codes and Conduct in the English Civil War," Past and Present (no. 118, Feb. 1988), 70-71; Donagan, "Atrocity, War Crime, and Treason in the English Civil War," 1139, 1148-49; and Howard Mumford Jones, "Origins of the Colonial Ideal in England," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 85 (Sept. 1942), 448-65. On New England, see Jill Lepore, The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (New York, 1998), 112; Ronald Dale Karr, "'Why Should You Be So Furious?': The Violence of the Pequot War," Journal of American History, 85 (Dec. 1998), 888-89, 899-909; and Adam J. Hirsch, "The Collision of Military Cultures in Seventeenth-Century New England," Journal of American History, 74 (March 1988), 1187-1212.
46) Jeffery Amherst to George Croghan, Aug. 7, 1763, in Amherst, Official Papers, reel 30, frame 249; Amherst to William Johnson, Aug. 27, 1763, ibid., frame 257; Henry Bouquet to Amherst, July 13, 1763, ibid., reel 32, frame 305. For a published, typescript version of the last document, see Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21634, p. 215. For a full version of the proposal to use dogs, see ibid., ser. 21649, part 1, pp. 21415.
47) Gage made the following note with his endorsement: "The Within Acct. not belonging to any particular Department, but the Articles ordered for the use of the Service, by the offr. Commdg, Colo. Bouquet will order the Acct. to be discharged & place it in his Acct. of extraordinarys." Levy, Trent and Company: Account against the Crown, Aug. 13, 1763, in Papers of Col. Henry Bouquet, ed. Stevens and Kent, ser. 21654, pp. 218-19. The Reverend Thomas Allen had forewarned Pomeroy that Gage might deliberately spread smallpox. Seth Pomeroy to Asahel Pomeroy, May 13, 1775, in The Journals and Papers of Seth Pomeroy, Sometime General in the Colonial Service, ed. Louis Effingham de Forest (New Haven, 1926), 166; Thomas Allen to Seth Pomeroy, May 4, 1775, 167. On Pomeroy's familiarity with Gage, see John Richard Alden, General Gage in America: Being Principally a History of His Role in the American Revolution (Baton Rouge, 1948), 256.
48) Accusations that French Jesuits deliberately spread smallpox were quite common in the seventeenth century. (See note 24 above.) Jacob Baegert, Observations in Lower California, trans. M. M. Brandenberg (Berkeley, 1952), 77. For more on the California outbreak, see Robert H. Jackson, "Epidemic Disease and Population Decline in the Baja California Missions, 1697-1834," Southern California Quarterly, 63 (Winter 1981), 316, 321. Charles Le Moyne, Baron de Longueuil, to Antoine Louis Rouillé, April 21, 1752, Documents Relative to the Colonial History of the State of New-York, ed. O'Callaghan, X, 249.
49) Robert Donkin, Military Collections and Remarks (New York, 1777), 190-91, insert.
50) Some copies of the book contain an engraved insert replicating the missing text. For an example of both the excision and the insert, see the copy of Donkin, Military Collections and Remarks, 190n., in the Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. I am grateful to John Dann of the Clements Library for bringing Donkin's book to my attention and for informing me of the recent discovery of a third intact copy.
51) On Indian-as-America symbolism, see Hugh Honour, The New Golden Land: European Images of America from the Discoveries to the Present Time (New York, 1975), 84-117, 138-60. See Vattel, Law of Nations, 336-37; and Grotius, De jure belli ac pacis, I, 139-63, II, 551. On views within the British military, see Stephen Conway, "'The Great Mischief Complain'd of': Reflections on the Misconduct of British Soldiers in the Revolutionary War," William and Mary Quarterly, 47 (July 1990), 378-79; Stephen Conway, "To Subdue America: British Army Officers and the Conduct of the Revolutionary War," William and Mary Quarterly, 43 (July 1986), 396-97; and Armstrong Starkey, "Paoli to Stony Point: Military Ethics and Weaponry during the American Revolution," Journal of Military History, 58 (Jan. 1994), 18. The "Bayonet & Torch" quotation is from Patrick Campbell to Alexander Campbell, July 8, 1778, Campbell of Barcaldine Muniments, G.D. 170/1711/17, S.R.O., quoted in Conway, "To Subdue America," 392. On "hard-liners," see ibid., 404-5; and Conway, "'The Great Mis [snip - maximum size exceeded]
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