Boylston, Zabdiel

Boylston, Zabdiel,

1679–1766, American physician, b. Brookline, Mass. He was privately educated in medicine and settled in Boston. In an epidemic of smallpox in 1721 he was persuaded by Cotton Mather to inoculate, thus introducing the practice to the United States. Beginning with his son and two slaves, he inoculated over 240 persons, all but six of whom survived. Public sentiment, however, was against the experiment, and the lives of both Boylston and Mather were threatened. In 1724, Boylston visited England, and his Historical Account of the Small-Pox Inoculated in New England was published there in 1726.
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Boylston, Zabdiel

(1679–1766) physician; born in Brookline, Mass. He received medical instruction from his father, but never obtained a medical degree. He was the first colonial doctor to inoculate people against smallpox (1721). He inoculated over 200 people in Boston; only six of those persons died. He and Cotton Mather (who had encouraged the use of inoculation) were both persecuted by angry crowds for their actions. Boylston published his results in London (1726) and then returned to Boston.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.