Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Did you know in 1763, Britain used biological warfare against the Native Americans?

Biological Warfare in Calico

"You're probably correct, Private Cowley. Don't concern yourself with the location. We did our jobs. We verified the death of another Shawnee for Baron Jeffrey Amhearst. Thanks to the troops at Fort Pitt, Fran├žois Lutree no longer presents a problem. Pierre should become contaminated once he touches his brother's body. With his death, the Shawnee loyal to France will have to trade with the British. It looks like we've had a glorious day, gentlemen. Everyone except for Cowley return to the station." - General of Turner's Station, pg. 8, Calico 
In the first chapter of Calico we are introduced to a scenario where the British have eliminated the Shawnee trading party through the use of biological warfare. When I was writing this scene I had based this scenario around a real event. You can read about it here: http://www.politicsandthelifesciences.org/Biosecurity_course_folder/readings/fenn.html

The hardest thing to do when a reader is reading about something that happened in the past is to separate the present culture with the culture of the past. 

Do you think it was morally wrong for the British to have given the Native American's smallpox infested blankets? 

Do you think biological warfare is morally wrong today? Why or why not?

What are you wanting from the book club? 
Where are you at in the reading of Calico? 
Who is your favorite character?
What's your favorite line in this chapter?

If you need a copy of Calico you can purchase it here: http://amzn.to/JSNRpm


  1. I did know about small pox blankets and find it reprehensible as I do all forms of biological or chemical warfare. I'm hoping to get incites into the research process behind the book as well as historical context of the story. I've only read the first chapter so I really don't have a favorite character as of yet. I, of course, feel empathy and concern for Calico. Favorite line? Hmmm I don't think one line stands out in the first chapter as favorite. Looking forward to reading further though, which is an important aspect of any first chapter.

  2. I'm so glad you joined in the book discussion, Ed. The research process for this chapter was pretty intense. I didn't know about this incident until a Native American told me about it. After researching I asked myself how would this incident affect Calico. Then I decided perhaps her father was traveling with them. In historical context, the smallpox blankets started a major catastrophy for the native populations. It didn't stay with just the tribes in the Fort Pitt area but spread all the way down to Florida. This is because the natives had an intricate trade route system. So when the traders went from village to village the disease would spread.
    Glad you are enjoying the book so far.

  3. Thanks Allison, I read the second chapter last night. Interesting connection to European Royalty! I'm not sure I have this right, but members of Calico family were "Privateers?"

    1. That's something we will cover later on in the book. Doctor Turner explains the connection later on. :-)

  4. Yes, I did know this. Don't take candy from strangers, and don't accept blankets from people who would have died their first winter on your lands without your help.

    1. Especially when you are war with them, huh? Pontaic's Rebellion was going on at the same time as this.