COMMENT: Sacket’s Harbor, in New York state on Lake Ontario near the outlet of the Saint Lawrence River, was throughout the War of 1812 the principal United States naval base and shipyard, and a place of vital strategic importance. On May 29, 1813, the British led by Lieutenant General Sir George Prevost (1767-1816), the overall British commander in Canada during the War of 1812, made a second unsuccessful attempt to capture it from their naval base at Kingston, Ontario.
Brigadier General Jacob Brown (1775-1828), then Major General of the New York State militia, is one of the greatest unsung heroes of the American army. He led the major American offensives in 1814, and was head of the US Army from 1815 until his death in 1828. Alas, he has been largely forgotten.
The Subscriber having been appointed by the President of the U. States, Agent for Vaccination, hereby gives notice, that GENUINE VACCINE MATTER, will be furnished to any Physician or other citizen of the United States, who may apply to him for it. The application must be made by post, and the requisite fee (FIVE DOLLARS) on the current bank paper of any of the middle states, forwarded with it. When required, such directions, &c. how to use it will be furnished with the matter, as will enable any discreet person who can read and write to secure his own family from the small pox, with the greatest certainty, and without any trouble or danger.
All letters on this subject, to or from the undersigned, and not exceeding half an ounce in weight, are carried by the United States mail free of postage, in conformity to a late act of Congress, entitled “An act to encourage Vaccination.
JAMES SMITH, U.S. Agent for Vaccination, Baltimore.
COMMENT: In 1796, Dr. Edward Jenner developed the first successful vaccination against the dreaded disease of smallpox. On Feb. 13, 1813, Congress passed a statute appointing an official Agent for Vaccination to provide genuine vaccination material (there had been a lot of fakes going around). It was the first Federal law on consumer protection and the regulation of drugs. Dr. James Smith (1771-1841) was a Baltimore physician who had campaigned for the law and became the first (and last) U.S. Agent for Vaccination. In 1821, Dr. Smith inadvertently mailed contaminated material to Tarboro, North Carolina, causing an epidemic of smallpox there that affected 60 people and killed 10. As a result, Congress repealed the law in 1822, and passed the question of smallpox vaccination back to the States.