Sunday, February 21, 2016

By Any Other Name ...

Amherst College:  Named after the town, not the General

Amherst College history professor Kevin Sweeney gave a one hour presentation -- "Smallpox, Natives, and Jeffery Amherst" --  to a packed crowd at the Jones Library on Saturday afternoon to shed light on the history of small pox, which he concluded "seems to attract dubious stories".

So did General Amherst start on purpose a pandemic with a couple of infected blankets that spread small pox like wildfire among the Native American population?

 Professor Kevin Sweeney at the Jones Library
Standing room only crowd in the Goodwin Room

Well, no.

According to Professor Sweeney small pox had been ravaging the native North American population for a hundred years before Lord Jeffery Amherst was even commissioned.

The commander of Fort Pitt, Henry Bouquet, had first suggested to Amherst that he be allowed to use small pox as a weapon.  In a letter dated July 16, 1763 -- but only as a post script -- Amherst approves the concept.

William Trent, a local militia commander inside Fort Pitt, wrote in his journal on June 24, 1763 "we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect." 

Thus the deed was done three weeks before General Amherst gave his permission.

Trent's journal also mentions the return of the two recipients of the infected garments, Turtle's Heart and Mamaltee, a month later and both of them were in good health.  Small pox has an incubation period of two weeks.

Two settlers who had been captured by the warring tribes but managed to escape reported the small pox outbreak was devastating the Shawnee and Delaware in the spring of 1763, well before General Amherst and Colonel Bouquet had their small pox discussion by snail mail.  

Thus if Lord Jeffery Amherst were ever brought before a Nuremberg type trial for war crimes, aka biological warfare, he would most likely be declared innocent. 

Although that still probably would not make him worthy of being an "unofficial mascot" for the Amherst College sports teams. 
 
Lord Jeffery Inn:  Soon to be renamed (but not the College)


20 comments:

Anonymous said...

People will believe whatever fits the marrative du jour.

Dr. Ed said...

The problem is that this was well over a century before people knew what germs were.
Before Louis Pasteur and the rest -- back when people thought this stuff was spread by witchcraft...

It's like saying that the Union Army had laser rangefinders on their cannons during the Civil War, a century before lasers were even invented.

Facts matter...

Anonymous said...


Amherst sucks and so does the racist pig its named for.

Larry Kelley said...

Feel free to leave.

Anonymous said...

Spoken by a true hater.

Anonymous said...

We could become: Merst.

Anonymous said...

Where only the h......oops, never mind.

Anonymous said...

"It's like saying that the Union Army had laser rangefinders on their cannons during the Civil War, a century before lasers were even invented.

Facts matter..."

Your statement is ridiculous. Just because it didn't work, doesn't deflect from the fact that they tried to infect them.

Anonymous said...

I understand that they did Not try to infect the natives. Did the natives try to kill them? Lasers aside, that is.

Anonymous said...

Who f-cking cares. You don't like it here, find somewhere else to cry.

Anonymous said...

is there a pattern here?
Lord Jeff and Polka time on WMUA
both run out of town by "adults" pacifying student's dubious complaints

Maybe something like an open container ordinance is needed

Mark Warren said...

Dr ed...look up the history of small pox vaccination to see what was understood about it back in the 18th century.

Anonymous said...

Smallpox vaccine, the first successful vaccine to be developed, was introduced by Edward Jenner in 1798. He followed up his observation that milkmaids who had previously caught cowpox did not later catch smallpox by showing that inoculated cowpox protected against inoculated smallpox.
Smallpox vaccine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smallpox_vaccineWikipedia

The Town of Amherst was founded and named 3 decades before, and Lord Jeff's actions were even earlier.

Anonymous said...

4:36 - The difference between polka music and smallpox is there's a vaccine for smallpox.

Ba-dum-bum.

Anonymous said...

You don't mind offending Polish people. Other than that u celebrate diversity. Is anyone sick to death yet of Africa and its culture?

Anonymous said...

And the natives did nothing to the settlers. Completely peaceful. Right? Or not?

Anonymous said...

Yes. And all PC baloney. It's killing us.

Anonymous said...

Next January 29th will be 300 years after Jeffrey Amherst's birth date. Amherst should have a celebration.

Mark Warren said...

Before the Jenner cowpox vaccine there was "variolation", a more time computing and dangerous inoculation. George Washington had large numbers of continental soldiers treated against smallpox. It was known about in Europe and North America by the 1720's and earlier in asia.

Anonymous said...

M(h)erst?