Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Waterhouse, 21 August 1801

To Benjamin Waterhouse

Monticello Aug. 21. 1801.

Dear Sir

I had the pleasure of informing you on the 14th. inst. that I supposed the inoculation of the kine pox to have taken effect in two subjects. these were from the matter you were kind enough to send July 24. that of July 26. succeeded with 2. others. that of Aug. 1. with 4. on the 16th. inst. we inoculated from the 2. first subjects 15. others, 14. of whom very evidently have the infection, so that we have 20. now of my family on whom the disease has taken, besides some recent inoculations. some of them have slight fevers, headache, kernels under the arms, & one only has a very sore arm. most however experience no inconvenience; and have nothing but the inoculated pustule, well defined, moderately1 filled with matter, & hollow in the center. I have this day impregnated some thread, & half a dozen toothpicks, which I forward to Doctr. Gantt, who writes me that his inoculations all failed. Doctr. Wardlaw of this neighborhood has so much other business that he has been able to be with us only twice. however I expect that the extent of my experiment will encourage the neighborhood generally to engage him to introduce it in their families. to you they will be indebted for it, and I am sure they will be sensible of the obligation. accept assurances of my great esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

RC (MBCo); at foot of text: “Doctr. Benjamin Waterhouse.” PrC (DLC).

I Forward to doctr. gantt: in a letter to Edward Gantt of the same day, TJ acknowledged receipt of Gantt’s letter of 17 Aug. and gave a similar report on smallpox vaccination at Monticello, adding to his description of an “inoculated pustule” that it had a “narrow margin of inflammation.” TJ continued, “I send you herewith a vial in which are a needle & thread which have been drawn through a pustule in a proper state & the thread well moistened with the fluid, as also half a dozen toothpicks, the point of each of which was stuck into the pustule, turned around in the matter, & then suffered to remain in the open [air] about 5 minutes to dry before they were put into the vial.” TJ closed the letter, “I will send fresh matter again tomorrow week” (PrC in DLC; faint; at foot of text: “Doctr. Edward Gantt”).

1Word interlined.

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