Lessons from the 1721 Boston Smallpox Epidemic – Tony Williams Interview

The world continues to endure the Coronavirus pandemic with many locations reaching their peak in the coming weeks. This isn’t the first virus or disease to affect the world, so what can we learn from one previous example in American History?

To answer that question, Tony Williams joins me to discuss a book he had written detailing the 1721 Smallpox epidemic. Though Tony’s book isn’t Virginia History exactly, he mentions that one particular Virginian used Cotton Mather’s incredibly controversial inoculation method to protect his army more than 50 years later.

Join us as we discuss the events surrounding that fateful 1721 outbreak, and discover how many things are still quite similar in how we approach these fearful situations.

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All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of “The Cow-Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation” by James Gillray, 1802.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and Max Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26 – Prelude. Allegro moderato performed by Sarah Chang and the Dresdener Philharmonie conducted by Kurt Masur, also available on iTunes.

Tony Williams Interview – Economic Influences on and from Early Virginia (Pillars of 17th Century Virginia Society, Part 3)

Economics is at the heart of why Virginia existed. Colony founders wanted to become wealthy, the Crown saw it’s own mercantilistic opportunity, and settlers risked their lives in order to find a better station in life.

How did Virginia’s key players accomplish their goals? Were their policies sound? If not, what impact did they have on the colony? My guest, Tony Williams answered those questions and more in his book The Jamestown Experiment.

Tony argues that in a changing world the Virginia settlers figured out that the key to economic growth hinged upon private property. Once the Virginia Company extended private land ownership to the colonists the Colony began to emerge from her macabre past. The emergence wasn’t perfect, but it was the beginning of a profound economic explosion that made Virginia wealthy.

The lessons learned in 17th Century Virginia influenced later generations and laid the foundation from which the United States built itself into the wealthiest country in the world. As such, it is still wise to take a look back into Jamestown’s experiment today.

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All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author. The Featured Image is of author Tony Williams in his magisterial library.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and La Danse Macabre Op. 40 by Camille Saint-Saens performed by l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France also available on iTunes.