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Article-a-Day #31: How Stuff Works-How Onesimus, a Slave in Colonial Boston, Helped Stop a Smallpox Epidemic

There aren’t a lot of written accounts of African-American people living in the early American colonies between the year 1500 and the Revolutionary War. It’s not that they weren’t there, but the paper trail for people of African descent from this time largely consists of petitions for freedom from slavery, accounts of escape (or attempted escape) from enslavement and records of execution. But accounts of one enslaved man named Onesimus, living in Boston in the early 18th century, tell the story of a person very likely responsible for saving hundreds of lives in the Boston smallpox epidemic of the early 1720s, as well as countless others affected by future outbreaks all over the colonies.