Friday, October 7, 2011

Letters from the Front: Small Pox in Boston

"...I am in no small fear of having the small pox as it is all around us..."

In this next courting letter from Dr. Samuel Adams to his future wife Sally Preston, we see a triumphant American Army, now in control of Boston, threatened with one of the great scourges of the age: small pox. As with most pre-modern conflicts, more men died from disease than from fighting on the battlefield. As a regimental surgeon for the American artillery, Adams faced a greater threat than most: his line of work brought him into contact with individuals, many in the most contagious phase of the illness, on a daily basis. In Adams' response to this threat, we see the central role played by religious life: he looks to his God for preservation, just as he looks to Sally for prayers on his behalf. For the full text of the letter, read below.


Sol Feinstone Collection No. 20                                                                               
[Dr. Samuel Adams] to Sally [Preston] Boston 26 March 1776               
Transcribed by Paul Davis, September 2011
“Boston, March 26th: 1776     
My Dear Sally
I came into Town the same day I parted with you, our Regt being ordered in the day before: and here I am in no small fear of having the small pox as it is all around us but however mean not to distress myself about it. hope to be preserved from it: or Safely carried through it – we have been and yet remain in – somewhat of an unsettled and confused state. but not so much as to keep my Dear Sally out of my mind, wish ardently for to have the pleasure of her agreeable company but fear my business will not admit of my visiting her this week  - could wish to have the pleasure of a line from you if it would not be too much trouble – don’t give yourself any uneasiness on my account – there is one able to keep me from the small pox and all other dangers and I doubt not I shall have my Sally’s prayers for my preservation-
            My Dear Sally with Sincere Love      
                        I am affectionately yours

P.S. there is some prospect of our Regt continuing in town through the                           summer. -------------- [pg 1]”

 Have something you want to share, such as a question, research find, or a personal story about the Library? Email Will Tatum at

No comments:

Post a Comment