4:12 PM / Saturday February 4, 2023

24 Feb 2021

Black History: Enslaved Black man Onesimus introduced inoculation to the US

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
February 24, 2021 Category: Commentary Posted by:

Source: Wikipedia, Photo from History of Vaccines

Onesimus, born in the late 1600’s, was an African-born man who introduced the medical procedure of inoculation to the U.S. when he was enslaved in 1706 to New England Puritan minister Cotton Mather.  Onesimus, whose name was given to him by the minister, was instrumental in the mitigation of the impact of a smallpox outbreak in Boston. 

In 1716 or shortly before, Onesimus had described to Mather the process of inoculation that had been performed on him and others in his society in Africa (as Mather reported in a letter): “People take Juice of Small-Pox; and Cut the Skin, and put in a drop.” Onesimus is believed to have been inoculated at some point before being sold into slavery or during the slave trade, as he most likely traveled from the West Indies to Boston.

The variolation method of inoculation was long practiced in Africa among sub-Saharan people. 
The practice was widespread among enslaved colonial people from many regions of Africa and, throughout the slave trade in the Americas, slave communities continued the practice of inoculation despite regional origin.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News


Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson releases statement in response to Philadelphia Water Department’s proposed rate increases  

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Katherine Gilmore Richardson (Photo/PHL City Council) Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large)...


Philly Cultural Beat – February 2023

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Gregory Porter (Photos courtesy: Philly Cultural Beat) By Steve Bryant February’s...

Go With The-Flo

Priceless will sing in the Roz Live musical tribute “GLADYS” at 54 Below in New York City

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Priceless Photo courtesy:  Priceless By Flo Anthony Following her $24 million...


cj speaks…  Waiting on the Lord

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email No matter what is going on in your life, you rise to the...


Are you ready to prioritize your health goals?

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email Help protect yourself against pneumococcal pneumonia. BPT The beginning of a new year...

Food And Beverage

Gift decadence during this season of love

February 3, 2023

Tweet Share Pin Email FAMILY FEATURES Valentine’s Day may traditionally be a lovers’ holiday, but it’s also...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff