- Dear Jeff,
- After listening to your interview with Dr. Tim
O'Shea (12-3-02) concerning Edward Jenner and the origins of smallpox
vaccination, I did some research and turned up this article by Walter
Hadwen, one of Jenner's harshest 19th Century critics. I thought the
arguments of the late Dr. Hadwen concerning sanitation to be highly
relevant to the modern debate on the urgent need for mass vaccincation
to counter pie-in-the-sky bio-terrorist threats.
- The article may be found at
- Regards Danny Chaplin
- Sanitation Vs. Vaccination - The Origin of
- By Walter S. Hadwen M.D.
- Since Edward Jenner demonstrated the use of cowpox
vaccine against smallpox in 1796, vaccinations against smallpox were
started. Despite this, a smallpox epidemic swept England in 1839 and
killed 22,081 people.
- In 1853 the Government made smallpox vaccinations
compulsory, but the incidence of the disease kept increasing, and in
1872 another epidemic killed 44,840 people, most of whom were
- The compulsory vaccination law was abolished in
1948. Similar disasters occurred in Germany and Japan, but possibly
the worst was in the Philippines in 1918 when the US Government forced
over three million natives to be vaccinated. Of these, 47,369 came
down with smallpox and 16,477 died. In 1919 the program was doubled,
and over seven million were vaccinated, of whom 65,180 came down with
the disease and 44,408 died. The epidemic was a direct result of the
vaccination program. These facts are described by Dr William F. Koch
in his book The Survival Factor in Neoplastic and Viral Disease
- By following the superstitious impulses of Edward
Jenner and the ancient tradition of time Gloucestershire dairymaids,
the medical profession has lost sight of the vital question, what is
the origin of smallpox?
- The faculty of reasoning upon time subject appears
to have become almost extinct; in its place there has arisen a demand
for obedience to authority. Fashion has usurped the place of
scientific thought, and arbitrary Acts of Parliament and the
policeman's truncheon have supplanted logical consistency.
- When the question is asked, "Why does smallpox break
out at all?" the twentieth century scientist answers, "Because time
populace have not been 'protected' against it by vaccination."
- This reply only begs the question. It presupposes
that smallpox is a natural visitation of Providence which may strike
anybody at any moment, and that the only way by which this presumed
inevitable evil can be met, is to compel every human being in this
world to undergo a process of "protection," which is to render the
system "immune" to attack. This is a negative form of reasoning. It
leaves unanswered the crucial question, what is the origin of
- Why are we to suppose, as was believed in the
eighteenth century, that a smallpox attack is the probable lot of
every member of the race? Why must everybody be diseased to protect
him against disease, especially if that disease is one from which,
owing to altered conditions, he is never likely to suffer? Surely, if
a disease breaks out there must be a cause for it.
- The Source Of All "Outbreaks"
- Now one fact stands out pre-eminently in every part
of time world where smallpox has appeared--namely, it has been
invariably associated with unsanitary and unhygienic conditions. From
time immemorial it has been called in Austria "The Beggar's Disease."
It has followed in the wake of filth, poverty, wars, pestilences,
famines, and general insanitation, in all ages.
- It accompanied the clash of arms of the American
armies in their struggle for independence, and in their Civil and
Spanish wars; it claimed more victims than the battlefield in the
ravages of the Crimea; it formed the dark background to the triumphant
marches of the German army in 1870; it increased tenfold the horrors
of the siege of Paris; and plagued our warriors at
- Even during the late Great War no inconsiderable
amount of smallpox occurred amongst all the armies involved wherever
conditions of insanitation triumphed over the scrupulous efforts made
to circumvent them.
- Smallpox outbreaks and epidemics have invariably
been the call of Nature to responsible authorities at home: "Put your
house in order"; personal municipal, and civic cleanliness has been
her unvarying demand, a demand which was couched in one striking
injunction by the prophet of old: "Wash and be clean."
- I remember 26 years ago there was an outbreak of
smallpox at Redruth, in Cornwall. The Press in all parts of the United
Kingdom was immediately supplied with exaggerated reports, and scares
were created by public vaccinators hundreds of miles away. I went down
to investigate the affair on my own account. There were altogether 44
cases; 84 per cent occurred in vaccinated persons.
- One-fourth of the cases was located in "Trestrails
Row," consisting of seven houses, each containing only two small
low-roofed rooms, and with no water connections. One midden privy, in
the most disgusting condition, accommodated the seven houses. One of
these hovels was occupied by no fewer than seven persons, all of whom
contracted smallpox, and out of the total of seven deaths three
occurred in this house.
- Nearly another fourth of the cases was confined to
Adelaide Road and Raymond Road, where smallpox first appeared, the
houses of which were supplied with uncovered cesspits. Three cases
occurred in Falmouth Road, with one death which took place in a house
closely hedged in by foul middens, a manure heap, and a
- Three more cases and one death occurred in the midst
of similar unsanitary conditions at Hockin's Court. Midden privies
were the order of the day, and the ultimate disposal of the sewage was
primitive to a degree. The smallpox rapidly played itself out, and
then the municipality corrected the conditions that had been the cause
of time outbreak.
- I remember, too, the epidemic in Gloucester in
1895-6. I was in and out of the smallpox houses throughout that
visitation of nearly 2,000 cases. The echo of it is still heard among
time ranks of Jennerian followers, and always with time tragic
whisper, "Gloucester was an unvaccinated city!"
- Never in all time history of professional
scaremongering was such a determined effort made to boost vaccination,
and never a word was uttered as to the shocking insanitary conditions
which produced the tragedy. In fact, those conditions were
persistently denied by time officials who were responsible for
- The smallpox was practically confined to the
southern half of the city, where there was no fall for the sewage. The
pipes had been hurriedly laid in this new district without concrete
base or cemented joints. There was a drought that lasted months; time
water supply ran short; flushing of the sewers had to be discontinued,
and time sewerage pipes became choked. When, after time epidemic was
over, investigation was made, the pipes were found to be broken in all
directions; in fact, the whole district of--for the most part--crowded
houses, many of them back-to-back with no through ventilation, lay
over what was nothing more nor less than a huge cesspit. The outlets
for the sewer-gas consisted of street manholes, which belched their
poison into time atmosphere.
- I traced the first case of smallpox in every street
to the house nearest to a manhole. Wooden stoppers were made to close
them down, but they had to be used sparingly lest the sewer-gas should
be driven into the houses. Hundreds of the houses were drawing their
water supply from shallow wells, liable to contamination by constant
leakage into them from house drains; and the sewage-pipes in numerous
instances ran under the floors of the houses from the closets at the
back to the street in front.
- Some of the houses had their toilets in the back
kitchen. In one street of 114 houses the latter were supplied with
water declared by the city surveyor to be contaminated with sewage
from its source to its delivery, and as it had not force enough to
fill the flushing tanks, the toilets were never flushed and always
choked, the contents being emptied periodically on to the small garden
ground attached. In some of these tiny houses there were seven, nine,
and even twelve cases of smallpox.
- A sixth part of the whole epidemic occurred in three
streets. In one street the sewage entered the cellars of the houses,
and the choked-up street sewer had to be opened up in the midst of the
epidemic. Nearly half the houses in this street had smallpox
- Then the epidemic caught on in two disgracefully
unsanitary and overcrowded, ill-ventilated elementary schools.
Forty-five children were struck down suddenly in one of them and 31 in
the other. The patients were removed to what was called an isolation
hospital. It was congregation, not isolation. A woman employed in the
early part of the epidemic as solitary night nurse told me that time
sight and screaming of these poor children at night as they ran about
the wards in delirium so completely unnerved her that she was obliged
- They were allowed no water for their fevered skins,
time baths were choked with dirty linen, and never used. The little
ones were packed three, four, and even five in a bed; vermin was
crawling everywhere; no oil was used for the faces, and the poor
children scratched themselves till they bled.
- Of every two taken in to the Stroud Road Hospital
one was carried out a corpse; when the mortuary became choked with
dead bodies, the bathroom was utilized for this purpose.
- One child lay for two weeks and two days with her
eyes scabbed and not a single drop of water was given to relieve her.
When one hospital became full, another one was opened which had been
used as a cholera hospital many years before.
- It was built on stakes in a rough, boggy field; it
had no sewerage connections, nor any drainage whatever, and water had
to be carried in water-carts over a quarter of a mile of bog to reach
- The panic became fearful, and a wild, despairing cry
went up from the plague-stricken city as the destroying angel sped
from house to house in these awful slums.
- And what was the answer the terror-stricken
inhabitants received from the Guardians of Public Health? Still the
same mad reply: "These be thy gods, O Israel!" as they pointed to the
vaccine lancets, dripping with their filthy venom; in helplessness and
fear they implored the people, in a unanimously signed medical
manifesto, to bow down and worship at the shrine.
- At last the rain came. It washed the atmosphere, it
flushed the sewers and drains; it filled the vacuoles of sewer gas in
the sandy soil, and the epidemic died down.
- The councilors who put up at the next municipal
contest were one and all indignantly swept away at the polls by the
enraged voters, and anti-vaccinationists took their place; a new
sewerage system was laid throughout the whole smallpox district at a
cost of some £30,000; 20,000 sanitary defects in the houses were
rectified, and no smallpox has occurred since, although nearly 90 per
cent, of the population is unvaccinated. But even in that awful
epidemic, smallpox picked out the vaccinated for attack; two-thirds of
the sufferers had been "protected" by time filthy superstitious
- Sheffield And Other Cases
- I remember Sheffield and its epidemic in 1887-8. No
less than 98 per cent of the population had been vaccinated; it was
the best vaccinated town in the kingdom the public vaccinators had
reaped a richer harvest of bonuses for "successful vaccination" than
those of any other town, and yet they had 7,000 cases of
- It originated and clung to an unsanitary area of 175
acres covered with cesspits--which was called The Croft. The medical
profession helplessly cried "vaccinate" and "re-vaccinate"--as if the
pubic had not already had enough of it. At last the floodgates of
heaven were mercifully opened, and the bountiful rains suddenly
accomplished what 56,000 vaccinations had failed to effect.
- I went to Middlesbrough in the great epidemic of
1898. I visited every smallpox hospital ward, and investigated the
conditions of the houses, and their environment, from whence the
smallpox came. As everybody knows, the houses at that time had been
run up at an enormous rate, much too fast for the sanitary officials
to keep pace with them.
- The part where the smallpox raged was situated
chiefly over a swamp where it was difficult to find foundations for
the houses; many of them were raised on piles driven through the
- The only method of house sanitation in all that
district was that of pails in the backyards. But whatever else had
been neglected, vaccination had been sedulously attended to--the
inhabitants were vaccinated up to 98.4 per cent, of the
- Nevertheless the vaccinated and re-vaccinated
hospital officials fell before the disease side by side with the
vaccinated and re-vaccinated inhabitants. Nine hospital ward-maids,
one trained nurse, one medical man and three policemen fell victims to
- Outraged Nature laughed outright at the Jennerian
fetish and declared in plain and unmistaken language that if smallpox
was to be prevented the conditions which caused it must be remedied.
Poisoning human bodies with the products of a foul eruption on a cow's
udder could only add fuel to the fire by reducing the vital resisting
powers of the sufferers.
- I call to mind the case of one adult male I
interviewed in one of the smallpox hospital wards at that time. He was
vaccinated in infancy, had smallpox when eight years old, and was
subsequently re-vaccinated three times. That man died of smallpox. I
took a particular interest in that case, and was staggered to find
when the official report was published that, owing to his having had
the eruption so badly as to cover his vaccination marks, he was
actually declared to be "unvaccinated"!
- I have visited Glasgow in two of its smallpox
epidemics. The slums in which they occurred; the overcrowded and
unsanitary condition of the tenements told, the same tale as
elsewhere. Nothing but sweeping away, the rookeries, where smallpox
invariably, takes hold, can ever save those parts of the city from
periodical visitations. Space forbids further reminiscences but it is
the same story everywhere. Go back to the records of Old London and we
find insanitation and smallpox keeping company throughout.
- The Lesson Of The Public Health Act
- Before the passing of the Public Health Act of l875
in this country, every succeeding epidemic of smallpox was worse than
its predecessor in spite of more and more compulsory vaccination; but
with less and less vaccination and more and more sanitation smallpox
has become a comparative curiosity. It is only in unsanitary quarters
it can gain a hold.
- Sir Edwin-Chadwick, the veteran sanitarian, has well
said: Smallpox, typhus, and other fevers occur in common conditions of
foul air, stagnant putrefaction, bad house drainage, sewers of
deposit, excrement sodden sites, filthy street surfaces, impure water,
and overcrowding, and the entire removal of such conditions is the
effectual preventive of diseases of those species, whether in ordinary
or extraordinary visitations.
- When will the medical profession arouse itself to
ask the question: "What is the origin of smallpox?"
- When will a Ministry of Health cease to bring
discredit upon itself by the advocacy of a disgusting fetish that has
proved, itself a failure as a preventive of the disease in every part
of the world in which it has been adopted for the last century and a
quarter? When will a British Government that boasts of its progress
and civilisation cease to ally itself with a filthy, uncivilised,
unscientific practice that has done nothing but spread disease and
death amongst the populace for generation and which is opposed to the
common-sense views of the majority of thinking men and women in the
- From "Truth," January 17,