Michael Harriot Profile picture
Aug 29, 2021 25 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
This is a good point.

When anti-vaxxers cite their freedoms, constitutional rights, and–the whitest thing of all–the Founding Fathers to rail against vaccine mandates, do they know what they're talking about?

What if I told you this happens EXACTLY every 100 years?

A thread.
In 1706, the members of a Boston church gave the pastor Cotton Mather a gift bag with a very special present--an enslaved Black man named Onesimus.

( That's how they collected tithes and offerings, but times were very different back then)

But Mather couldn't STAND Onesimus
Some of it was because Onesimus laughed his ass off when Mather tried to convince him that God was white. Mather said Onesimus was "wicked" because he was too smart. Plus, Onesimus tried to tell Mather something that was unbelievable.

In Africa, they had cured smallpox. Image
Smallpox was a deadly, contagious disease. When it came to the US, they blamed the pandemic on immigrants who came here on ships. Then…

You know what?

There's no way anyone living today would understand this part.

Anyway, Mather didn't believe Onesimus' BS.
But he told his pharmacist friend about it, and they decided to try it. So Mather & his doctor friend inoculated 248 of their friends and family.
When white people heard this, they lost their minds. One Boston newspaper stayed impartial. But the publisher and his little brother secretly printed pamphlets that said the slaves were trying to kill the white people by injecting them with smallpox
It sparked the first anti-vaxxer movement. They even firebombed Mather's house with a note that said "I will inoculate you with this."

Then, in 1721, 5,889 people in Boston – about 1/2 the town– caught smallpox & 1 out of every 7 died.
Only 6 of the 248 people inoculated by Onesimus' recipe died—or one in 40.

Massachusetts quickly became the first state to promote public vaccination.

The next year, another smallpox epidemic hit. Less than 3% even caught it. It worked.
But that publisher's little brother, who was printing those anti-vaxx pamphlets, he was too embarrassed to get his kids vaccinated and his son died.

He regretted it so much that he moved to Philadelphia, opened America's first hospital.
I'm not saying this guy was more intelligent than you, but when you talk about your "freedoms" & what the Founders stood for, you should know that this guy was kinda like a Founding Father. His nickname was "The first American"

But most people just call him Ben Franklin
Ben was all for vaccine mandates, but a lot of people weren't. States banned vaccines, & people rioted in Virginia in 1769. One Virginian wasn't worried because he had already gone to Philadelphia to get vaccinated.
Ben even helped him edit this breakup letter he wrote. Image
It was called the Declaration of Independence

In his 2nd term as president, he began mandating vaccines.

Literally 100 years after someone put a human being in the offering plate, Jefferson wrote a doctor concerning vaccines calling it the greatest discovery in medical history. Image
A few years later, Jefferson's homeboy created the National Vaccine Agency. If you believe in the Founders, you should know the guy who created the Agency was some dude named James Madison, who also wrote this thing called the Constitution of the United States of America.
In 1900, another smallpox epidemic broke out, The city closed all the schools and told everyone to get the vaccine or pay a fine. Another preacher, Hennig Jacobson, protested & refused to pay fines for the so-called vaccine mandate.

Again, this would NEVER happen today.
Newspapers called the so-called vaccine mandate the "greatest crime of the age" and said it was "worse than slavery." To be fair, it's possible that the people in this city didn't really know much about vaccines because it happened in *checks notes*...

So what did the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, say about the "freedoms" and the Founding Fathers' intentions? Image
"It is within the police power of a State to enact a compulsory vaccination law."

Apparently, the highest court in the country doesn't seem to think that spreading a pandemic is a constitutional right.

In 1906, EXACTLY 200 Years after Onesimus arrived, Jacobson got the shot.
This brings us to the modern anti-vax movement.
I'm sure you've heard about this one. In 1998, a British medical journal published a study by Andrew Wakefield concluding that the Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccine caused autism.
After it made headlines around the world, parents around the globe refused the MMR vaccine. The story just kind of went away, which is why many people still believe that vaccines cause autism

But that's not what really happened.
See, that study never actually said that vaccines cause autism. But, just like in 1706 and 1806 and 1906, newspapers didn't really understand science, so they just wrote what they heard Wakefield say. But the other doctors in the study said, "Ummm… that's not what we found."
Then investigators discovered the whole thing was a hoax. A rival vaccine company & lawyers hoping to file a civil suit paid him millions to falsify the research. Some of the kids didn't even have autism! Image
But the biggest news outlets never reported this. VERY FEW reported that THEY had misreported the initial research

Because of the Wakefield hoax, measles children around the world died.

Well...Except for one place...The good ole USA.


When did we discover out lawyers, medical companies and individuals had paid $19 million for Wakefield to create this hoax?

Exactly four hundred years after a Boston Church gave away the worst gift bag ever. briandeer.com/mmr/st-dec-200…
So no, the Founders would not have turned over in their graves. But, to be fair, you gotta admit...

The anti-vaxxer movement and white people dying science because of their "freedoms" is a time-honored American tradition.
One last bit of proof:

During the Revolutionary War, smallpox ravaged British and American troops. So George Washington came up with an idea on how he could gain an advantage.

Yep, a VACCINE MANDATE literally helped a ragtag group of soldiers create this thing called America Image

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Michael Harriot

Michael Harriot Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @michaelharriot

Nov 10
Little known fact:

Although much has been written about America's PAST treatment of Black veterans, few people are aware that tens of thousands of Black people who served in the US Armed Forces are technically and legally excluded from Veterans Day.

A thread (and a story)
First of all, the mistreatment of Black veterans dates back to the beginning of America. Many enslaved people who fought in the American Revolution were promised their freedom.

America reneged.

Don't trust my version of history. Ask a little organization called the US Army. Image
The same thing happened during the War for White Supremacy. In fact, when white Union soldiers discovered that a Black reconnaissance scout was being paid, they demanded the Army stop paying negroes

That vet became the first woman of ANY RACE to lead a military expedition.
Read 23 tweets
Oct 30
Everyone knows the story of Nearest Green's whiskey recipe. But the Jack Daniel family's wealth ain't got SHIT on the family that made money off the scam they pulled on Stephen Slade

A thread
In 1839, Stephen Slade fell asleep in the barn.

Stephen, an "exceptionally intelligent" man, was enslaved by Abisha Slade, a farmer who inherited his land Abisha didn't know shit about farming. He was a politician who talked a good game, tho.
Even though Stephen was only 18, he was already a master blacksmith. The American form of ironworking is actually an ancient African art that was brought to America using violence or the threat of violence and Stephen learned the craft from childhood

Read 16 tweets
Sep 20
One of the most frequent questions I’ve received about Black AF History is:

“Is there something you left out?”

The first draft of the book, had a game based on my belief that every Black American is connected to one guy:

Let’s play “Six Degrees of TRM Howard”

A thread:
The story begins with a secret meeting.

On August 12, 1846, 12 men representing every state that still enslaved human beings assembled at a house on the corner of Green and Seventh Street in St. Louis, Mo. They each put their hand over their hearts and recited a pledge: Image
These were the Knights of Liberty. Organized by Moses Dickson, they traveled throughout the South training Black men for a national slave revolt

They funded the Underground Railroad and their plan was almost complete when a group the Civil War began

Read 21 tweets
Sep 5
160 years ago today, the state of Georgia refused to seat 33 Black elected officials from the state legislature, sparking a series of events that led to one of Black Twitter's most celebrated memes.

A thread.
A lot of people believe the Civil War wasn't about slavery. Those people are either liars or dumb.

Every single declaration of secession mentions slavery. The Confederate president and VP said: We're doing this for white supremacy

Well, they put it more plainly
Regardless of WHAT you believe the Civil War was about–slavery, states rights, taxes or the right to wear a handlebar mustache, one thing is not up for debate:

The traitor states concluded that they didn't want to be part of America if they couldn't have their way.
Read 26 tweets
Aug 29
He's right.

If you believe a lone racist gunman killed 3 people in Jacksonville, it's probably because you only learned a whitewashed version of history. But there is a reason why a white supremacist chose this specific location:

A thread
The shooting happened in the New Town section of Jacksonville, Fla.

Wait... Why is the black section called "New Town?"

You've probably heard about the Great Chicago Fire & the San Francisco Fire. Well, the 3rd largest urban fire in American history was in Jacksonville, Fla Image
On May 3, 1901, a fire at a factory burned 146 blocks, destroying 2,368 buildings. It left 10,000 people homeless.

The fire department decided to save the white homes and let the Black neighborhoods burn to the ground, including two historically Black colleges. Image
Read 24 tweets
Aug 19
Last year, Spike Lee interviewed me for his upcoming doc on @Kaepernick7.

He was so nice & even gave me a tour of the studios. I'm a Spike Lee stan. So when he said he loved my writing and wanted to meet me, I was too flustered to tell him that we'd met before.

A thread.
In college, I was on the board of the Black Student Union.

I don't want to make it sound like I was so militant because the school was only about 4% Black, so BSU was basically our weekly get-together.

The only other time we saw each other was at the Free Movie.
Auburn had a weekly movie for students. As long as you had a student ID, you could get in. For years, BSU complained to the University Program Council about the lack of Black films.

Of course, the UPC said: "We just choose the most popular movies that fit our budget."
Read 22 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!