Tag: Thomas Jefferson

What Did Thomas Jefferson Say About Vaccines?

A lot of folks are quoting the Founding Fathers these days when they talk about vaccines.

“Thomas Jefferson has a quote, he says ‘He who sacrifices Liberty for security deserves neither.’ And I think that’s really important and fundamentally true.”

Isaac Lindenberger

Wait, that quote sounds familiar.

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Benjamin Franklin

Sen. Rand Paul used it during the Senate hearing that featured Isaac’s brother Ethan Lindenberger. Only Rand Paul correctly attributed the quote to Benjamin Franklin, even though the quote doesn’t really mean what he thinks it means…

What Did Thomas Jefferson Say About Vaccines?

So what about Thomas Jefferson, did he have anything to say about vaccines?

“I have received a copy of the evidence at large respecting the discovery of the vaccine inoculation which you have been pleased to send me, and for which I return you my thanks. Having been among the early converts, in this part of the globe, to its efficiency, I took an early part in recommending it to my countrymen.  I avail myself of this occasion of rendering you a portion of the tribute of gratitude due to you from the whole human family.  Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility.  Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood was a beautiful addition to our knowledge of the animal economy, but on a review of the practice of medicine before and since that epoch, I do not see any great amelioration which has been derived from that discovery.  You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest.  Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.  Future nations will know by history only that the loathsome small-pox has existed and by you has been extirpated.

Accept my fervent wishes for your health and happiness and assurances of the greatest respect and consideration.”

Thomas Jefferson

While anti-vaccine folks shouldn’t be invoking the name of Benjamin Franklin, they certainly shouldn’t be throwing Thomas Jefferson’s name around.

Not only did he support and praise Edward Jenner, Jefferson did his own smallpox vaccine trials!

What Did Thomas Jefferson Say About Vaccines?

Thomas Jefferson on Vaccines

George Washington and Benjamin Franklin supported vaccines.

What about the other Founding Fathers?

Thomas Jefferson on Vaccines

We know that Thomas Jefferson was a big supporter too.

Many of Thomas Jefferson's writings show his support for vaccines.
Many of Thomas Jefferson’s writings show his support for vaccines.

In 1806, Jefferson wrote a letter to Edward Jenner, saying that:

“I have received a copy of the evidence at large respecting the discovery of the vaccine inoculation which you have been pleased to send me, and for which I return you my thanks. Having been among the early converts, in this part of the globe, to its efficiency, I took an early part in recommending it to my countrymen.  I avail myself of this occasion of rendering you a portion of the tribute of gratitude due to you from the whole human family.  Medicine has never before produced any single improvement of such utility.  Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood was a beautiful addition to our knowledge of the animal economy, but on a review of the practice of medicine before and since that epoch, I do not see any great amelioration which has been derived from that discovery.  You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest.  Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived.  Future nations will know by history only that the loathsome small-pox has existed and by you has been extirpated.

Accept my fervent wishes for your health and happiness and assurances of the greatest respect and consideration.”

Thomas Jefferson

Not only did he support and praise Edward Jenner, Jefferson did his own smallpox vaccine trials!

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