George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 4 December 1770]

4. Rid by Posey’s to the Mill, and to the Ditchers. Mr. Boucher and Jacky Custis came here in the Afternoon.

Boucher had not given up the idea of taking Jacky to Europe. At this time he was urging the Washingtons to prepare the boy for travel by having him inoculated for smallpox in Baltimore, where Dr. Henry Stevenson ran a popular inoculation clinic, free of legal restrictions that the burgesses had recently imposed on inoculators in Virginia (Jonathan Boucher to GW, 1 Oct. 1770, DLC:GW; JHB description begins H. R. McIlwaine and John Pendleton Kennedy, eds. Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia. 13 vols. Richmond, 1905–15. description ends , 1770–72, 100). Although the question of Jacky’s tour was now no closer to being finally resolved than it had been in the spring, GW favored the inoculation, thinking that Jacky should be protected against smallpox whether he went abroad or not (GW to Boucher, 13 May 1770, writings description begins John C. Fitzpatrick, ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745–1799. 39 vols. Washington, D.C., 1931–44. description ends , 3:12–15). But Mrs. Washington, while agreeing that the benefits were very desirable, feared exposing her son to the inoculating process, which, as practiced during this period, brought on a fatal case of the disease in 1 of every 50 to 60 inoculations (GW to Boucher, 20 April 1771, CSmH; king [1] description begins Lester S. King. The Medical World of the Eighteenth Century. Chicago, 1958. description ends , 321). Consequently the decision on this matter, like the one on the tour, was postponed.

Index Entries