Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from William Foushee, 13 September 1801

From William Foushee

Richmond Sept. 13th. 1801

Dear Sir

Judge Stewart politely handed me your obliging favor of the 30. ulto. with a vial containing recent matter of the Kine-Pox & for which attention I beg leave to make my acknowledgments—I hope with you, for the general benefit of mankind, this discovery may answer the description given of it & that we may not be disappointed in our expectations therein; or of the genuiness of the infection; for I am extremely unwilling, however greatly we have hitherto been foiled here, to believe that, Practioners of Reputation who have spoken so positively respecting this Discovery, can have been mistaken; but that some accidental casualty must have produced in this quarter of the Globe a delay in extending security from one of the most violent Pests the human system can undergo.—The present being the most dangerous Season for attacks of the Fall Complaints, I have thought proper not to commence immediately any experiments, being unwilling to excite fever just now; but as soon as the period for the usual Autumnal diseases is past, I shall proceed with this matter & afterwards with the Variolus, in such Patients as can be prevailed on to submit to it—: & will beg permission to trouble you with some account of the result—.

with great esteem & respect am Dr. Sir Yours.

W: Foushee

Dr. Currie has received his Packet also.

RC (DLC); postscript on verso; endorsed by TJ as received 15 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

William Foushee (1749–1824), a native of Virginia, studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh before serving as a physician and surgeon for the American army in the Revolutionary War. Foushee represented Richmond in the Virginia Assembly in 1791 and 1797–99, then served on the governor’s council of state before returning to the assembly as a representative of Henrico County in 1806–1808. According to an advertisement in Richmond’s Virginia Argus on 2 Sep. 1800, Foushee and John H. Foushee were licensed by Henrico County to inoculate patients with smallpox at a location outside of Richmond. On 7 Aug. 1802 in the same newspaper, the Foushees advertised the option of inoculation with cowpox or smallpox (Blanton, Medicine in Virginia description begins Wyndham B. Blanton, Medicine in Virginia in the Eighteenth Century, Richmond, 1931 description ends , 87, 327–8, 404; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, Richmond, 1978 description ends , 185, 209, 213, 244, 248).

Your obliging favor of the 30. ulto.: TJ’s letter to Foushee of 30 Aug. was similar to the letter he wrote to James Currie that day and included a postscript in which TJ informed Foushee that a vial of smallpox vaccine was sent to Currie (PrC in DLC; faint and blurred; at foot of text: “Doctr. Foushee”).

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