The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution

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$32.00  $29.76
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publish Date
6.06 X 9.13 X 0.87 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Andrew M. Wehrman is an associate professor of history at Central Michigan University. A winner of the Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Early American History, his writing has appeared in The New England Quarterly, The Boston Globe, and The Washington Post.

In The Contagion of Liberty, historian Andrew Wehrman traces the path of the smallpox-inoculation movement, and its generally overlooked impact on politics around the American War of Independence. He argues that smallpox influenced the journey towards independence from British rule, and how Americans conceived of their new, hard-won liberties. It is a tale of startling contemporary relevance.As vaccination was privatized, he argues, the concept of a civic duty to protect public health was displaced by the idea of disease as a consequence of personal negligence.
The Covid pandemic wasn't the first time that America has found itself split along ideological seams over infectious disease.As historian Andrew Wehrman explains in The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution, our downright violent resistance to, and demand for freedom from, the disease was also precisely what helped galvanize our mobilization of independence from England.
The Contagion of Liberty is a timely and fascinating account of the raucous public demand for smallpox inoculation during the American Revolution.This thought-provoking history offers a new dimension to our understanding of both the American Revolution and the origins of public health in the United States.
--New York Almanack
In The Contagion f Liberty, Andrew Wehrman weaves together dozens of individual stories and their layered historical contexts to provide a fascinating account of smallpox in America, from colonial times through the early republic.A deeply researched and gracefully written volume.
--Wall Street Journal