Photograph of newspaper advertisement from the 1780's for the sale of slaves at Ashley Ferry outside of Charleston, South Carolina.
"To be sold, on board the ship Bance Island ..... about 250 fine healthy negroes, just arrived from the Windward & Rice Coast."
The ad goes on to say that the utmost care has been taken to keep the slaves from being infected with small pox, and "all other communication with people from CharlesTown prevented." A smallpox epidemic in Charleston in 1760 was one of the worst in the colonial period. In a population of about 8000, there were an estimated 6000 cases and over 730 deaths, or 9% of the population. It was not until 1796 that Edward Jenner demonstrated that cowpox vaccination could protect people against smallpox more safely than live smallpox vaccination. (9)