tv Book Discussion on The Fever of 1721 CSPAN May 14, 2016 5:30pm-6:31pm EDT
to what extent -- and this is where i start the book in a way -- to a what extent it's our problem as much as the romans, to what extent it's right or justifiable or necessary to suspend the liberty of the citizen in the interest of protecting the state and homeland security. >> you can watch this and other programs online apple tv.org. >> i'm pleased to introduce the author the fever of 1721. the epidemic that revolutionized medicine and american politics. stephen has a bachelors degree,
he worked as an advertising copywriter and wasn't a wisconsin election official when he is in writing. the fever of 1721 talks about the worst epidemic to hit boston. including a controversial but effective smallpox inoculation. they call the fever of 1721 informative and the wall street journal talked about it a deeply engaging account. please please help me welcome our speaker. [applause]. >> i am a wisconsin election official, i'm not in wisconsin today, there have been out an election. i had to vote absentee so i don't know if that makes me a former wisconsin election official or not. i would rather be here right now. by the way that is a nonpartisan
position. it's a fancy word for poll worker. but it is cool because i get to register new voters so first-time voters, naturally citizens, its prequel, i like a lot. all kidding aside. lot. all kidding aside. hillary, thank you very much for that introduction. thank you to harvard, this is my first time here. everybody has heard about the store. now i have been walking around and it smells like a bookstore smells and it looks like a bookstore should look, i'm very happy and proud to be one of its guest so thank you again. thanks to book tv. i have never been on book tv although i have watched it many times. it is a real pleasure to be featured on it. of course, last but no lease
thank you for coming. this is my fourth live event. the first one wasn't madison wisconsin where i currently where i currently reside and i have all of my friends go. some of my wife sent her friends as well. then we went to chicago. chicago i got i got all of my in-laws to go. judy has a very big family so she is one of seven or eight, seven, i you would think i know by now. she got her whole family to go. then on sunday i did an event in madison, connecticut, another really fine independent bookstore. there, i am from connecticut originally but i had all of my old friends dated back from high school. there are people i have not even seen in a century what got to go there. tonight, i don't think i know any of you. so that is very flattering, thank you for coming. i really appreciate it. when my sister learned that i was going to be presenting a
book, promoting my book she gave me some advice. she said i suggest letting people know it's your first appearance and if it goes over good do it every time you speak. so i would like to announce that this is my first appearance. but as i said, this is my fourth appearance but this is my first appearance in the town or in the general area of the place where my book takes place over me that is very cool. also it is my first appearance at this store, my first appearance on book tv, so this is all just wonderful thing for me. i thought what i would do tonight is start with a very short reading, about eight minutes from the introduction of the book so that if you have not read the book you will get an idea of the scope of the story. there are three stories, three plot lines that i try to thread together in this book.
i do not have time to talk about all of them obviously so i thought i would reprint the beginning of the book and give you a sense of what it is about then i will stop reading and talk a little bit about one of the characters from the book. someone who everybody knows it but generally does not associate with boston. then, then if i do not digress too much we should have plenty of time for discussion. so, i will start with a short reading, this is from the introduction to the fever of 1721. >> 1721 might be the most important anonymous year in the evolution of both modern medicine and american liberty. during the worst smallpox epidemic in boston history alone physician conducted an experiment that saved hundreds of lives, launched a new medical discipline, and helped pave the way for the eradication of the the world's most devastating
disease. the procedure he employed, known as very elation or inoculation would come over time the modified and expended despite other fatal diseases. presenting the deaths of untold millions of persons. in 1721 though, it was considered primitive, barbaric, and tantamount to attempt to attempted murder. town officials, medical establishment, and many ranking people opposed it. some of those opponents would be willing to do anything to stop it. in april 1721, smallpox came to boston for the first time in nearly two decades. it arrived aboard the british worst ship. by the time it burned itself out a year later, approximately approximately half the town's 11000 inhabitants had been infected. among those who had escaped death were nearly 300 men, men, women, children who had
undergone inoculation. the procedure began with an incision within the skin of a healthy person. the incision was then implanted with it fluid from the pustules of someone who had broken out in smallpox. the idea was to produce an extremely mild and easily tolerable case of the disease and confirm unity for future infection. prior prior to 1721, inoculation was virtually unknown in america and had never been attempted. the proposal to try it in boston came from an improbable source. a puritan minister. mather, theological conservative and master of the fire and brimstone jeremiah was one of the most controversial figures in boston. chiefly, as a consequence of his involvement in the salem witch hysteria. generally regarded as a man prone to superstition and infatuation, he had come in the years since salem and had inherent enlightened science and
enthusiastic monitor of the latest and most exotic medical developments in europe and beyond. the town's most esteemed position dismissed mather's proposal out of hand. but one dr., boylston, accepted his challenge. in 1721 boylston was 22 years old and was successful as a physician and carry shop owner. he had achieva measured of fame for his uncommonly good track record with surgery but was relegated to a second tier of medical practitioners because he lacked to the educational and social pedigrees of many of his colleagues. without boston's james franklin one have never launch the new england current. for nearly four years the struggling austin printer had been looking for an opportunity to start a newspaper modeled on the best london publications. weekly, weekly, though be literate, witty, provocative, and ambitious.
the antithesis of the two generally dull and perfunctory boston newspapers already in circulation. in 1721 he leverage the public's hunger for information and opinions about inoculations to put his plan into action. if his current have been nothing more than reprint excerpts of essays by john trencher and thomas gordon, along with the spectator commentators of steel, it would've made a noteworthy contribution to the american journalism and american independence. but it went further. side-by-side with the essays of the great political and social thinkers of the european enlightenment, james published distinctly distinctively american essays about himself and his friends. they presumed to criticize and satirize the religious and political establishments of colonial massachusetts with the boldness that scandalized their father's generation.
the onion, the daily show and colbert report. indeed, an argument can be made that the american social and political satire began with james franklin's newspaper. that everything that followed from mark twain, to will rogers, to matt stone and trey parker south park, it dissented from it. at the same time he was inventing american social and political commentary, james franklin was also helping invent the man generally regarded as the first american. two years after being pulled school, 12-year-old benjamin franklin had been indentured as his brother's apprentice. for the better part of the next three years as he learned the trade that would make him wealthy, then had embarked upon his storied self-education.
his inspiration, and many of his text came from his brother's painting house which contained a large and diverse library of books and periodicals and served as a meeting place for james franklin's brother and friends. their conversations about books and pamphlets, and debates about politics, religion, and social and social issues of the day tired young benjamin's mind and imagination and he began to see his destiny unfold before him. then, in 1721 to 15-year-old was given a front row given a front row seat to the inoculation controversy. what he learned that debate him from his involvement in the newspaper that grew out of it changed his life and helped define him as an author, publisher, a political philosopher, an experimenter, and a diplomat., and a diplomat. in a sense everything benjamin franklin ever needed to know he learned in 1721. by early 1722 he was 1722 he was ready to take the public stage. disguised as a country widow named silence -- it is fitting
that the political movement that would one day make benjamin franklin famous as an american patriot was coming-of-age at the same time he was. the man behind the first organized push for the american independence was a dr. turned businessman, turned politician. the son of one of the colonies wealthiest man and bluff politicians had inherited his father's fortune, talent for politics, and better in resentment for england. for it 1684 cancellation of the original massachusetts charter which had given the colony a remarkable degree of political autonomy. shortly after being elected to the massachusetts house of representatives for the first time in 1716, he had put all three of those inheritances to work opposing and obstructing the royal government. before three years had elapsed the hard drinking cook had built america's first machine. he had
also become the bane official one of who accused him of placing the man of countrymen" with his republican notions in order for the dependency of new england. in 1721, smallpox epidemic sparked family ford insides. it also served as a catalyst for the invention of american journalists. the coming-of-age of benjamin franklin, and the beginning of american independence itself. this book is about that epidemic. in the political epidemic that followed. it is a story about five remarkable men and how their courage, during, vision, and desperation in time of crisis defined their destinies and hours. thank you. so, as i mentioned i i have five main characters in this book and i'm going to concentrate the
rest of my time before we have questions and answers unquestionably the most famous and beloved of those characters, someone who though generally associated with philadelphia was and remains very much a boston boy. i'm talking of course about benjamin franklin. franklin would leave boston when he was 17 years old and he would never live in a town again. for the rest of his life he would sometimes say some rather tough things about his hometown, famously he wrote to lafayette who named his daughter virginia in honor of the republic that he hoped the frenchman would be blessed with 12 more children so he could name one for each of the colonies. he was quick to add that he was word for the soul of any child named massachusetts. which he said was "too harsh even for boys" so he
never did return to boston permanently bet he made for extended visits to the town and he would have made a fifth. it is safe to say that the town was never far from his thoughts. wherever he went, philadelphia, england, france, he england, france, he kept tabs on boston through correspondence and newspapers. famously his friends joseph priestley wrote when he read about the military occupational boston enclosing the port in 1775, there were tears on his cheeks. in 1784 when he was in france, britain wrote a letter confessing not only that he longed to see boston again but at one point he had one point hope to be buried in boston. he did not return to boston. we know he know he was not buried in boston. what he did remember the town and his will. i think a lot of people are not aware that he bequeathed the same amount of money to boston as he did to
philadelphia. so in all these ways he acknowledged how much boston meant to him. those gestures i think only begin to reflect how profoundly important that town was to the development as a writer, philosopher, scientist and indeed as a person. a person. it's my contention in this book that the five years benjamin franklin sent with his brother james as a printed and especially in the year 1721 when he helped launch the new england current and had a front row seat for the inoculation controversy, were the most formative years of his life. and. in my mind there's no question. i say as i mentioned that everything he needed to know he learned in 1721 and in the book elaborates on why i make that claim. so tonight what i want to do is talk about what happened before that. franklin was such a long inconsequential life and did so many things that we don't know that much about what the
earliest part of his life. many great great biographies, and i have read most of them but because he had such a long life and did so many things, the the first 15 or 20 years of his life usually get a few pages, i think they deserve more. so i want to talk little bit about how franklin brothers james and benjamin got together in the first place, how they struggle to make a go of of it, how they almost did not make a go of it. and how that influenced what would happen in 1721 and ultimately benjamin franklin's entire life. james and benjamin were the fourth and eighth the children of josiah franklin and by the time he married he had married once and had seven children from his first marriage, with this wife he had ten more children. benjamin franklin benjamin franklin was josiah's tenth and youngest son. because josiah was a very religious man, and he was very
much devout is a puritan he hoped to tithe been to the church and making a gift to the church by setting him up to be a minister. in those those days if you wanted to be a congregational minister there is a prescribed route. you went to boston latin as a prep school, and then he went to harvard college which is many of you, if not all of you started out as a training ground specifically for congregational preachers in new england. so even though josiah franklin did not have a lot of money, he was a made soap and candles and even as a trade went there was not a very highly esteemed or highly paid job. he decided that somehow or another he was going to send his son to harvard to boston latin and hard harbor to make him a minister. benjamin franklin started at boston latin as his father wished and he actually did quite well. scholastically.
was it became clear very quickly that he lacked the calling to be a minister and there's a famous story that you probably heard about that. one winter, one fall when ben and his dad were putting up provisions for the winter they were salting meat and then turned to his father and suggested that they ought to just pray over the barrel of meat once and save themselves having to pray every time they stepped down to eat. now that is a typical ben franklin kind of logical peace and logic. but it was great for everything but it was not great for someone who was going to be a preacher obviously. so much as i realize that his son did not have the right stuff for the ministry, he saw no reason to incurred huge expenses sending them to school. he pulled her from school when he was ten years old and he put them to work in his shop making silken candles.
this was hot, physical work and smelly work because they would boil down animal fats in the process. ben franklin, who even at this age at ten years old was a strapping, strong kid, he did a lot of swimming. he hated the work. it was mindless work, he was obviously a prodigy, he needed something more challenging for his mind. he told his father early on that he wanted to leave the apprenticeship and wanted to go to see. apprenticing as a sailor. he wanted to see the world. his father was very upset about that because it was common knowledge among everyone that been a sailor was a dangerous occupation. josiah franklin had already lost a son who is a sailor. his oldest son josiah junior had left home against his wishes and hired onto a ship and have been lost at sea.
probably from a storm maybe by pirates, they never knew. so just iowa's determined that benjamin franklin would not suffer that fate. he took his son around town, he took a day of a work which was quite a thing to do in those days. he took a stun. he took us down around town trying to find an alternate occupation. for a variety of reasons it cannot work out. so they they are back in the shop, benjamin still miserable, josiah still worried that one day he is going to run off to see. well, in the midst of all this james franklin returned from england. james franklin at this point was 20 years old. he had been in england for a number of years apprenticing as a printer. now he was back in boston, he was good at his tray, he had seen what they were doing in england and how exciting that was. he saw how boring things were in boston and he told his father, i need to start my own print shop and turn the talented on its ear. josiah said no way. actually what james needed was the money to do this. josiah
would've had to borrow the money in order to give it to james. he said no way because a couple of things. he thought james ought to sort of cool his chats and service time and get to know the business a little better. but mainly it was because he bought, along with everybody else in boston, there were are ready enough printers in the town and the town cannot support another printer in his venture would fail. but james was determined and he kept pushing. pretty pretty soon josiah found himself with james in one ear begging for the money and benjamin in the other ear begging to do anything but be in the shop and so he kind of capitulated. he told james, james, okay i will get you the money providing you take your brother as your apprentice. what sounded like a good deal but the boys were practically strangers because james franklin had been away learning to be a printer almost all of ben franklin's life. they did not know each other
very well. they were very different as people. but it was the best deal either of them could get. so in late 1718 in 1718 in august, james franklin and benjamin went into business and the little shop what was then called queen street. it was was directly across from the town prison which would loom large in their futures. by the way, maybe all of you know this but if you start at the old state house in up port street about 150 yards and you look at a plaque on the building to the right you'll see the spot where james franklin and benjamin franklin had their printing house. it is commemorated there. i'm usually the house is gone but the plaque marks the spot. almost from the first day that ben franklin started working for his brother his life changed. after two years spent in doing drudgery kind of work, he was in
his element. he found himself himself surrounded by books, pamphlets, and printed materials. he was actually working with words, he was setting type, he was he was doing things that were natural for him. but there is more to it than being surrounded by books. james franklin, his brother was no slouch. as a reader, as a writer, as a thinker, and even more importantly he was a magnet for other young men like himself. young men in boston who were tired of the same old same old. tired of the extreme religious oppression i guess would be the way to say it or certainly restrictions. every day or nearly every day those men would drop by the franklin printing house and james and those guys that would talk about politics, philosophy,
and big issues of the day. benjamin franklin as an apprentice cannot participate but he was soaking it all in. these workers teachers. these were his boston latin and harvard teachers that he did not get when his father took him out of school. if you have read the autobiography you know that franklin talks a lot about conducting his self-education. how he taught himself remedial math and taught himself to be a better writer. writer. how to be a better debater et cetera. he does not say what i think you should've done frankly, is that it was working for james for being in that particular printing house and that exciting environment with books and with men expressing ideas he had never heard before that inspired him to start that amazing journey and start that self-education. he wanted to be like them. so now, very soon after joining james and the printing house ben franklin had his spirit had
nearly been break-in. i think the fact that his father took him looking for another job and was willing to let him out of the shop reflects just how bad benjamin franklin belts. i think it's not too much to say that he was depressed. now he was reborn, now he was in his element so that was all good. but businesswise, not so much. businesswise things were not so good. josiah franklin was right. boston did not need another printer. to make matters worse, about a month after the franklin brothers open their printing shop, a young man named samuel who is not just any young man but the nephew of the most established, successful printer in all of new england, who basically ran a printing dynasty, opened a printing house right across from franklins.
that was no mistake. mistake. now it was a certainty that if there were any dribs and drabs of printing that were not already picked up by the other printers it was going to go to samuel not to james franklin and benjamin. that left the brothers almost from the moment they open their shop, within a within a month of opening their shop with a fairly desperate situation. all of a sudden james found that he had to do two things he had never thought he would have to do when he came back from england. the the first was that he found that he had to print fabrics for the rich women in town. that is not what he had come to boston to do. he also found that he had to carve woodcuts or illustration for competitors. james happened. james happened to be really the only person boston who is an artist enough to carve woodcuts for illustrations. it ought to have been a great advantage for james franklin and
benjamin franklin that they were the only ones who have these customize, very well done wood block illustrations in the published work, however because of the way things worked out james found himself having to sell and job out these things to his competitors helping make their work look great at his own expense. so it was a bad situation but it says something about james that he is not so humbled by this situation are bad luck. he advertised the fabric printing capabilities that he and benjamin had and he got in a little big on the competition. he said that he printed fabrics without the offensive smell which commonly is used. so beneath all that bravado things have gotten desperate. the stress of trying to survive in business created more stress between the brothers.
jane says i said earlier there were different types. james was intense, he was moody, and he liked to drink. benjamin was a strong-willed that's his brother, in fact many years later he would admit that he wasn't always the best apprentice. he could be to provoking. because the brothers were in a bad state businesswise and because they got on each other's nerves, we know from the autobiography that james be to bed and this was something that unfortunately was not on common among apprentices a master apprentice relationship, but it is something we know ben franklin resented for the rest of his life. so after a few months of barely scraping by and being on the edge of total failure james had an epiphany. if he cannot get work in town he would have to create his own content. during the time in england he had discovered something called the broadside ballot which was a single sheet of paper, probably
bigger than this. it was printed with verses and those of versus were specifically geared to be very melodramatic at recreation's of some big events in the news. a tragic death, scandal. if we do them today and we do them today in our own ways we would say that they were ripped from the headlines. the good thing about a broadside ballot from a printer publisher is that you could write them fast, you can rush them out and sell them for relatively little money and they could be big money makers, providing as a publisher two things. first you needed an event exciting and enough to dramatize about a second you needed a hack a hack poet willing and able to write versus were little money, as possible in november 1718 james franklin franklin got his big event. it was a freak accident in the islands, but then and now
location nonoaud. what happened was the lighthouse keeper his wife, daughter and several others were coming back from boston. they rent rented a small boat approaching the island and for some reason, it was a nice day the sun was out and it was a little windy, nothing terrible. somehow mysteriously the boat over turned and everyone drowned. what made it even worse is that the families other daughter who had stayed behind on the island was watching the whole thing. it was also ironic. what made it ironic that is people thought these people were going to die there on the outer reach of the boston harbor on a small rock. they had survived all kinds of terrible weather. in in 1717 they had all of their sheep, they had 77 odd sheep swept into the ocean by storm. people. people would not have been
shocked if the storm killed the people. people expected that storm to kill them. but this was a nice day. so that was a sense of irony. when james heard about this he knew he had a subject, now he needed a poet. one he could pay little or better yet, nothing. he found one standing next to him. benjamin franklin and james franklin had an uncle name benjamin who fancied himself a poet. uncle ben had encouraged young then to practice writing first. james knew that his little brother could write something to pass the verse. the question question was cut a 12-year-old boy which was what ben franklin was at this point create a thrilling drama that would pass for the work of an adult. it would have to sell lots of copies and get them out of trouble. no one knew the answer to that but james was desperate and benjamin was free.
bennett wrote the ballot based on newspaper accounts and hearsay in the town. the brother said it in type, printed it, james loaded ben's arms full of these things, pushed him out the door, and sent him to the street corners to sell this broadside ballot. it was a huge hit. it was a phenomenon. a phenomenon. decades later, when franklin brought his autobiography, he talked about how this is very typical of ben franklin. in one sentence he said both that it was a wretched stuff and it sold wonderfully. i think that is very ben franklin -like. he did not want to give himself too much credit. even toward the end of his life when he had done so many other things he still took enormous pride in the first ballot he was written when he was 12 years old. so the rank and brothers now had a big windfall in terms of profit. james had finally found what he hoped would be a good way of making money. he he had to wait for the next big event. in early 1719, boston received
word that blackbeard, the infamous pirate whose real name was edward peach was killed off the coast of what would become north carolina. peach was one of the most famous pirates in history. part of it was what he did and the other part was how he looked. blackbeard had it beer that set right below his eyes and hung to his waist and would party down the middle and tie with red ribbon. part of the ideas that he looked crazy so he must be crazy. indeed he was a fearsome. boston had a reason beyond that to be afraid of peach, the reason that boston was so afraid of peach in addition to that was that blackbeard, also known as peach had promised to burn boston to the ground because the town had tried, convicted, and hanged a
fellow pirates. so when bostonians heard that blackbeard was dead it was very big news. when i heard about the circumstances of his death, james franklin realized he had the stuff or another broadside ballot. what it happened was that to navy had trapped blackbeard in a cold. but blackbeard had a bigger ship and more firepower so after getting drunk he went to the bow of the ship and started cursing out his would-be captors. he did that apparently for several hours drinking curse, drinking cursed. then when he cannot bake them him into attacking them he opened fire and with his superior firepower it was not long before he pounded them into submission. one one ship was nearly destroyed the other was
disabled. he thought he had one, he approached the lead ship, he boarded it thinking he would have little or no resistance because he killed all of the sailors on board. instead, he was surprised by an ambush, sneak attack by the crew which had been hiding below deck. an enormous hand-to-hand close range battle broke out. the captain whose name was maynard, shot black beard but it didn't kill him. so one of maynard's sailors stabbed blackbeard in the and blackbeard and what can only be described as it the perfect light from johnny depp pirate movie, said well done lad. with that, the sailor was flattered with the complement, did not show because he proceeded to decapitate blackbeard with one swing of his sword.
so that quote his head lay flat on his shoulder. the sailors then threw his body into the ocean, put his head on the ship and sale back triumphantly. when franklin heard this he thought this is exactly what he needed so he put franklin to work right in another ballot call peach the pirate. it was very successful. you would think nowadays that would have more successful than the white house drownings but it was like less successful. it was just maybe a little too much but it did make money. what. what james franklin walked away from that thinking was that he cracked the code and he found his niche. at least if nothing else his days of printing fabrics for the rich women in town and jobbing out his illustration carvings were finally over. but alas, that was not to be either. although the although the ballots were broadly popular and financially successful, they
were looked down upon by a better stony is who considered them disreputable, inappropriate. ben franklin and james franklin father, josiah was one of the biggest critics of them. josiah was not a wealthy man, he man, he had a very humble trade but largely because of his involvement in the church and because of his own native intelligence and ability, he had managed to climb socially so that he included some of the most powerful men in boston among his circle of friends. samuel seewald was a regular visitor and he was arguably one of the most, maybe the most esteemed person in all of massachusetts. so josiah franklin was not happy about the drowning ballad.
but decapitating a pirate and writing about that was something else. he called benjamin to his home, he told him basically if you continue doing this you will be ruined, your life will be worthless. he did not tell him to stop but the gist of it was that he should stop doing this. since james franklin owed his father all the money that he had not been able to pay back in terms of the money he needed to start the business, he was obligated to honor his father's wishes. so that ended the only real money making scheme that james and benjamin franklin have been able to devise a more than two years in business. by the beginning of 1721, the year i center on in my book, after a brief stint with one of the newspapers james and benjamin once again found themselves exactly where they had started in 1718. no further along toward security or even knowing whether they could survive another six months. but they have learned two
important things, that when the situation changed which it was about to do would make the difference in terms of their successes. james had discovered that if he could create the right kind of content, he could succeeds. and benjamin realize he could write better than most adults at age 12. what james wanted to do was start his own newspaper inspired by the really innovative publications he had encountered in london. he held off because as i mentioned earlier the town had to newspapers. because the conventional wisdom was the only thing boston needed less than another printer was another newspaper. but in april, 1721 smallpox came to boston. usually it came every 12 years, in this case it had not come after 12 years. it was getting close to 20 years, 18 years. it would create the worst smallpox epidemic the town had ever seen.
two months after smallpox came to boston, a dr. would conduct his first inoculation experiment using his own six-year-old son is one of his first three patients. that act as the sun for inoculation would cause a controversy unlike anything boston has ever seen. james, being an astute businessman realize that he could exploit that controversy. he could capitalize on the controversy to start the newspaper he always wanted to start. the paper he would launch in august 1721 would be the first one in america published without government approval. in fact, it would become the first paper in america, really the really the first document printed in america of any kind that would argue for the right of the press to criticize the government.
that is mind you, 70 years before the first amendment. the new england current, that newspaper would change the course of american journalism and start james franklin's little little brother on the way to fortune and fame. benjamin, who by this point was already very good, very accomplished printer would learn also how to be a successful and innovative publisher. also savvy businessman, both of which his brother was. he would receive his first, and in some ways most important lesson in the enormous potential of scientific experimentation. thanks to the inoculation experiments. he would also learn how to challenge authority and how not to challenge authority, again from his brother. in the pages of his brother's revolutionary newspaper he would read, and eventually express his own contributions, ideas own contributions, ideas about political freedom that were entirely new to america in which
50 years in the future would make him an essential figure for the fight of american independence. thank you. [applause]. now i guess if anybody has questions or would like to talk about any other aspect of the book i would be happy to do it. i think the gentleman from book to be would like us to just wait until the mic comes around. raise your hand if you do have a question and we will bring the microphone over. does anyone have a question? >> this was actually a fairly sizable cut it had to be deep enough to draw blood and it had -- the size or the amount of smallpox that was actually inserted in the wound was said
to be about the volume of the p. it was not an enormous cut. remember this was before any one understood germ therapy. so just cutting the skin left you open to infection. that was actually one of the biggest threats of inoculation, not so much that the inoculation would not work or smallpox would kill you, it, it was a secondary infection that sometimes came from cutting the skin with a dirty knife or a dirty implement of some kind. >> when the person you are inoculating is the one taking the risk is. >> yes. the person being inoculated was the one who took the risk. the person that the smallpox came from obviously was unfortunately very sick. what would happen is, in some cases well for example, the reason we know this work toward the reason they believed it
would work is because there is a slave that worked in the mather family and he told his master bath but back in africa that whenever smallpox came in the village everyone would get the scars. to his credit, unlike a lot of white men in the society at that time asked him to explain. what what happened is the slave explained the procedure that turned out to be inoculation. then mather subsequently read about in a scholarly journal and between those two things he was convinced it would work. >> i think it is a remarkably well researched book and well-written. i enjoyed reading it now for a couple of days.
just talk about writing it and where did you find all of this information. how long were you thinking about it, how did this spark your interest? >> it is very interesting. i started with the calendar page. back in the 19 '90s i got a back of the day desk calendar and one of the pages talked about the first use of inoculation against smallpox. and mentor doctor boylston, and that cotton mather had given boyle the idea that it was very controversial. that literally was all i knew. i knew boylston was a street in boston, i knew cotton mather was the bad guy of film. i had never heard of this. at this point i thought i wanted to write a screenplay. in fact i did a little research and i did write a screenplay based on the story. it was very zoned in on the medical part of the story. as i started doing more research and you start to get deeper into the story i realize that in
addition to being an additional medical history story, it was also about political history, journalistic history, and it it was very much about what made benjamin franklin, benjamin franklin. i will give you all of the papal details but years the past and i didn't do anything with the screenplay and another friend of mine suggested when i told him about the idea, he said you need to write that is a book. it's too big of an idea to put in a 100 page screenplay. so i decided somewhat impetuously to start researching in earnest enough to do an entire book. that took seven years to research, write, rewrite, shorten by half and publish. >> trance.
>> i did a lot of things about medical history up until that point. and political history as well. i had all of this information and like a lot of writers i wanted to dump it all in and say everything all at once. what ended up happening is i trimmed away, there's a bit of back story but i trimmed away everything but the information leading to 1721 and what came out of it, the implications. >> any other questions. >> i did not know about the rod side ballad -- broadside ballad. he did it because ben was very good with words. did he ever suspect or they
didn't know who do good was or is some point not been able to identify this person that maybe it it may have been his brother. >> he should have. we we know that, it seems so obvious. if you read silence it do good backwards with the knowledge of the hindsight if you will, you can see different places where ben franklin peeks out from silence do good. but he didn't. he did not know. i think it was because there was such a strong, it was so different for an apprentice to do anything without permission from his master it was a breach of that protocol. i think james never thought benjamin would do it. he put benjamin's work on something because he was the master ben was the apprentice. i did not think he would thought ben would do it himself. when he found out, he was very angry and ben franklin talks about that or
at least alludes to that in the autobiography. i agree, it is one of those things that seems obvious in hindsight but at the time it's a combination of not believing that ben would do that and it was partly, even james underestimated ben. i think sometimes those closest to us do not always see us for who we are. james did not want to see how brilliant his brother was. anybody else? >> would you talk about alicia cook's. >> i refer to him as a founding grandfather. he's a figure that most people do not know about. he was the man who started the boston caucus. the original boston caucus. the first the first political machine in america. in boston in 1719 - 172121 is when it came to full power. elisha cook was a wealthy person, he grew up wealthy but
his father had always resented when england canceled the first charter which had given them so much power, they could pick their own governor and make their own laws, england had a hands-off approach. with that one away and was replaced by the new charter which gave them a royal governor imposed by england and took away the autonomy. elisha cook senior, the father without rage. i think he was estranged from england elisha cook junior, although he was told he was a subject of a crown crown did not feel like he was subject and did not talk like a subject of the crown. he he really spent the rest of his life when his father got older and retired and died, elisha cook junior took up that cause and dedicated rest of his
life for making things miserable. he was number one to the crown for many years in the organization he created gave future decades to the other caucuses and a lot of mechanisms by which things were started. you may or may not know from the book, this point that sam adams, who we call a firebrand of the american revolution has a direct tie to elisha cook. elisha cook had deputies in the 30s and forties. one of of these was samuel adam sr.. otherwise -- sam adams senior and elisha cook meet at sam adams house. sam i adams would hear his father and elisha cook
discussing political philosophy and that's really where sam adams got his politics, from elisha cook junior. >> he comes across as a remarkable parliamentarian. certainly sam certainly sam adams was a remarkable parliamentarian to. >> elisha cook although was racier than mentioned he went out of his way to affect the look of a common man he built up his political power by buying drinks. he owned pubs and would build political power by getting people eligible to vote but he was kind of a populace before populism. to do this, even though he was wealthy, he was harvard educated young man, even though he had that upbringing he kind of made
himself a man of the people. in terms of how he dressed. sam adams did the same thing. >> talking about opening up and he started up -- it puts me in mind of samuel adams defended a publisher and acquitted him and it became the basis of the first amendment, freedom of the press and i guess i could research it, i don't know what the the paper was that sam adams defended. what of it been the current? >> know the current was defunct by the late 1720s. boston ultimately got the best of james frankland he got kicked out of town and moved to newport and started a printing house.
but there are connections. i talk when sanders trial, there was a connection to these guys and i'm going to forget names now. i don't remember the lawyer now, but he had a connection to ben franklin. >> was at sam adams? >> know that would've been much later, the whole vendor trial happened before that. but the current definitely created a precedence, when danker was tried there was already a mood in america for a press that could criticize the government even though it's not legal. i think what happened with the current and what happened with james frankland, benjamin franklin would continue to talk about a free press in his
newspaper and i think that did happen with everything that followed. >> okay, thank you very much. [applause]. >> thank you stephen. thank you for coming out. thank you book tv for being here tonight. we will have a signing at the table. if you could line up and books will be for sale at the counter in the next room. thank you. [inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible] >> c-span, created by america's cable television companies and brought to you as a public public service by your cable or satellite provider.
>> at a university in the western world, not just the united states, if you believe that god created heaven and earth, that god is the source of the shall not murder, not just reason, you are considered a dummy. and that foolishness, and that truly is a foolish, the deepest the deepest people i have ever met are overwhelmingly at a god centered understanding of the world. but that is now taken as a given, that if you believe something like that you're intellectually suspect. so that is what is happened. >> when you hear someone say i am spiritual but not religious. [laughter] how do you know to ask me these questions. i have done hours of radio just on that subject. it is, without respect to people who say, it is meaningless. it means, i contemplate in us
vista cato manor, that is the code word. it does not mean anything, i'm spiritual but not religious. if you have no religion what you have? spirituality, what does spirituality mean, that you mean, that you believe that flowers are beautiful, that animals are loving, what does it mean? it does not mean anything. i know to the individual making it means something but without religion, without a code, religion gives you a code. religion gives you a set of beliefs. i do not care if you reject them but at least you have to grapple with them. remember israel which is the founding group of the old testament means struggle with god. and i take that seriously as a believer. i do struggle with god. when i see all of the suffering in this world, the unjust suffering, when just thinking for a moment, forgetting the obvious of your
neighbor had pancreatic cancer at 32, but a whole country called north korea which is a human concentration camp, the way people live there, and the hundred million of world war ii, you know, these things bother me. i understand is struggling with god as a believe your but i want the atheists to believe that you have to struggle with god too. it is not enough. i was invited to the great credit, the the american atheist, the biggest atheist group and the u.s., they invited me to their annual convention which was to their credit. to debate their hand on god's existence. i want when i looked at looked at the audience were completely, by the way decent to me, i can't complain at all. they're just fine. but i sent would you raise your hand if you have ever seen a child born or listen to mozart
symphony or sena van gogh painting or sena sunset and said you know, it's hard to believe that just happened on its own. maybe there is a god. not one hand went up. and then i looked looked at them and i said you know, if i were to ask any religious audience have you ever seen a deformed baby and doubted god raise your hand, everyone would've raised their hands. we believers struggle more than atheists do and you think you're the questioning ones, were the questioning ones. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> jonathan metropolis is a professor of european history and he is the author of this book