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February 19, 2013

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GoneWithTheWind

Ahh! The famous smallpox laden blankets. First appeared in a movie from Hollywood and we all know how accurate they are in portraying history. In fact the famous smallpox laden blanket never happened. I great fantasy especially if you dislike the British but it is pure fantasy. The interesting thing is smallpox was an equal opportunity killer and killed as many and undoubtedly far more "white" in the new land then it did Indians. Smallpox was so feared that no man no thinking individual could have been coerced to actually carry a blanket loaded with smallpox in an attempt to give it to Indians. But the fantasy goes even further; rembering the time period even educated scientists and doctors still were unaware of germs and viruses never mind having connected them with smallpox. No one, certainly no one on the frontier would have had a clue that you could carry a blanket laden with smallpox and give it to the Indians thus infecting them. And lastly modern science has indeed found that you cannot. Smallpox is very difficult to catch from surfaces and very easy to catch from close association or breathing the same air as a patient. The Indians got smallpox in exactly the same way that the immigrants got smallpox. No mystery, co conspiracy, no biological terrorism. But speaking of biological terrorism the Indains were the ones who introduced that into the fight. They would commonly contaminate wells and springs to kill the immigrants and soldiers. Ironic isn't it? A perfectly good anti-British pro-Indian diatribe that when fact checked ends up being a pro-British anti-Indian story.

R.J. Godlewski

@Gone with the Wind,

I offer,

“The concept of using Variola virus in warfare is an old one. British colonial commanders considered distributing blankets from smallpox victims among Native Americans as a biological weapon.”[1]

Although admittedly suspect, “The first documented attempt to use smallpox as a biological weapon occurred during the French and Indian Wars (1754-1767) in North America. British colonial commanders serving under Sir Jeffrey Amherst allegedly gave blankets from smallpox weapons as gifts to susceptible North American Indians.[2]

If little else, these alone cast doubt on the ignorance or innocence of the British in North America.

R.J.

References

[1] Ross D. LeClaire and M. Louise M. Pitt, “Biological Weapons Defense: Effect Levels” in Biological Weapons Defense: Infectious Diseases and Counterbioterrorism eds. Luther E. Lindler, Frank J. Lebeda, and George W. Korch (Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press, 2005), 48.

[2] Robert G. Darling, Timothy H. Burgess, James V. Lawler, and Timothy P. Endy, “Virologic and Pathogenic Aspects of the Variola Virus (Smallpox) as a Bioweapon” in Biological Weapons Defense: Infectious Diseases and Counterbioterrorism eds. Luther E. Lindler, Frank J. Lebeda, and George W. Korch (Totowa, N.J.: Humana Press, 2005), 101.

GoneWithTheWind

First of all you need to get your data straight. The famous Amhesrt letter 'suggested" it was not proof of it or a decision to do it. Secondly the British archives have long been used misused and hacked. It is impossible to know if the Amhearst letter is real or a forgery placed their by special interest groups with an agenda. This is/was common not very different from the infamous George Bush AF reserve letter. But for Amhearst to have actually known or believed this was possible in 1763 he would have had to have been about 150 years ahead of the scientific world. The best and brightest still thought things like Smallpox were caused by "bad blood". It is also important to understand that Amhearst had just experienced the most criminal most savage most disgusting brutality known to man; the Pontiac Rebellion where the Indians performed disgusting torture on captured women and children. Amhearst may have simply been trying to express his anger and frustration over the vile deeds and tried to come up with a equally vile idea for revenge. But in fact it never happened and the facts in the letter make it obvious it was written in the 1940's and 1950's when most of the hacking against the Archives in Great Britain occurred.

As for the ignorance or innocence of the British at that time they merely reflected life as it was then. The French were no better and the Spainish were much worse. In fact you could make your case and far more using the Spanish for an example. Their conquest in South and Central America was brutal and bloody and had little to nothing to do with protecting lives. The British may have done things you don't approve of but they did it to protect not just out of blood lust as the Spanish did.

So while it is true that diseases like smallpox killed millions of Indians the same diseases killed millions and even tens of millions of the immigrants. No one (or very few) were immune. Most/many died and if you were lucky and survived you had an immunity to that disease but the next one could kill you just as easily.

R.J. Godlewski

"worse. In fact you could make your case and far more using the Spanish for an example. Their conquest in South and Central America was brutal and bloody and had little to nothing to do with protecting lives."

How so? ALL the information regarding the atrocities of the Spanish within Latin America came via British propaganda. The same people that made the Aztecs out to be simple, decent people.

Yes, some of the Conquistadors were bad people -- every group has bad people -- but the English, as exemplified with the Protestant Inquisition versus the Spanish Inquisition, were the worst culprits.

GoneWithTheWind

Wow! You really believe the Spanish in Central and South America were moderates who's reputation was trashed by the British. I think what you have is a serious prejudice against the British and non-Catholics. I don't want to rehash people's old prejudice. Everyone 200-300 years ago acted brutally by today's standards. The British were no exceptions but in the new world the Spanish went over the line even for the standards of the time. And both the Spanish and the British were wimps when it came to how the muslims in Africa treated their own people and their slaves. And even the muslims were wimps during this same era when compared to how the Chinese and Japanese treated their people. It all depends on your persepective and your willingness to see things in the context and beliefs of the time period. I have no doubt 100 years from now even the most moderate country will be accused of some crime by that later periods standards. I rally have no ax to grind in this except to understand history, not the rewritten history or the history as told by someone with an agenda but the truth as best it can be determined.

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