Re: New world populations

MBAWilliam (
27 Dec 1994 00:31:45 -0500

As I'm still getting used to my new reply system I would loke to apologise
for my obvious blunder...I don't think I would like to have that quote
attributed to myself under the circumstances....

Paul J. Gans [] wrote:

>Second, it is polite to pay attention to context. I was replying to a
claim that the >plague was kept chained up in a cellar so that it could be
released on demand. >I still don't know *what* was kept chained up. It
certainly wasn't a person with >the plague. Was it, perhaps, an infected

As it was my initial quote regarding the plague to which you were
replying, it would be proper to keep that in context also. The colonists
at Plymouth claimed to have kept "The Plague" in some demonic form or
another, chained in a cellar, to be released at will to wreak havoc among
indigenous groups. As native peoples were as unfamiliar with pathologies
as their European guests, one can assume that it was for effect rather
than veracity.

>Third, it does not say much about scientific independence to reply to a
>statement of fact with a wildly emotional statement.

The point, however, I remember making, (and thus the sarcasm rather than
"emotion" as you seem to claim), was that if Europeans *threatened* to
infect their indigenous neighbors, would they not do it if they found a
practical method. I don't believe I ever claimed that the Europeans
actually *chained up the Plague*, and found your response rather

>Last: I don't believe anyone has ever claimed that an epidemic of plague
wiped >but indigineous Americans.

So I am to assume then, that you've read every available article on 16th
and 17th century epidemics in the New World? I can provide you with an
ample bibliography of articles if you think you've missed a few, even one
or two by Snow and others which bring up the possibility that bubonic
plague spread as black rats were transported to the New World in European
cargos. Whether or not bubonic was a significant factor is still up to
debate... However, in very early "pre-European settlement" epidemics, it
was a more likely candidate than childhood diseases such as small- and
chickpox. As epidemic ravages indigenous groups for nearly 300 years, the
likelyhood of a single disease as the culprit is dubious.

MB Williams