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When Americans rioted because they wanted inoculations

Riots over vaccines in the United States: sound familiar? It's actually not what you might think, because the vaccines and riots in question were issues as the United States was struggling to become a country.

The American Revolution broke out during an outbreak of smallpox, and George Washington ordered inoculation for the entire Continental Army. The riots happened because the inoculation was not available to all the people clamoring for it.

The story is told by historian Andrew Wehrman in the book The Contagion of Liberty: The Politics of Smallpox in the American Revolution.

We go back to the original days of "Don't Tread On Me" with the author, for an exploration of public health politics at the dawn of the republic.

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The Jefferson Exchange is Jefferson Public Radio's daily talk show focused on news and interests across our region of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Angela Decker is the senior producer, Charlie Zimmermann is the assistant producer, and Geoffrey Riley hosts the show.