Sanitation Vs. Vaccination -
The Origin of Smallpox
Hadwen was a passionate opponent of Jennerian smallpox
vaccination in England around 1900.
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.
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 vaccinated.
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 (1961).
following the superstitious impulses of Edward Jenner
and the ancient tradition of the Gloucestershire dairymaids,
the medical profession has lost sight of the vital question,
what is the origin of smallpox?
faculty of reasoning upon the 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
the question is asked, "Why does smallpox break
out at all?" the twentieth century scientist answers,
"Because the populace have not been 'protected'
against it by vaccination."
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 smallpox?
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.
Source Of All "Outbreaks"
one fact stands out pre-eminently in every part of the
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.
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 Tel-el-Kebir.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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 piggery.
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
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 the ranks of Jennerian followers,
and always with the tragic whisper, "Gloucester
was an unvaccinated city!"
in all the 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 the officials
who were responsible for them.
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; the water supply ran
short; flushing of the sewers had to be discontinued,
and the sewerage pipes became choked. When, after the
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 the
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.
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.
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 cases.
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 the
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 to leave.
were allowed no water for their fevered skins, the
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.
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
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
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 it.
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.
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.
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.
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 the filthy superstitious
And Other Cases
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 smallpox.
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
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
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 soil.
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 population.
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 the disease.
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
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"!
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
Lesson Of The Public Health Act
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.
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
will the medical profession arouse itself to ask the
question: "What is the origin of smallpox?"
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 realm?