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Alfred Russel Wallace : Alfred Wallace : A. R. Wallace :
Russel Wallace : Alfred Russell Wallace (sic)

Letter to the 1911 Annual Meeting of the
National Anti-Vaccination League (S687: 1911)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter read at the meeting, then printed on page 42 of the 1 May 1911 issue of The Vaccination Inquirer. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S687.htm

Broadstone, Wimborne,
March 26th, 1911.

     Dear Miss Loat,--In reply to your request for a message for the Annual Meeting of the National Anti-Vaccination League, I will venture to make a few suggestions, although, having no time for a detailed study of the present position of our cause, they can only be considered as those of an interested outsider.

     I have long felt that the many urgent political problems now being discussed, especially those relating to general social reforms, render it necessary to set forth our demands in Parliament, as well as in the country at large, in a much more vigorous way than has hitherto been done.

     All that is now done is by way of questions to the various Government Departments. This seems to me to be almost a waste of time unless followed up by some definite action. The answers are always drawn up by the medical advisers of the Government, and almost invariably convey a false impression to the hearers or readers. What is required is much more discussion, in which the overwhelming weight of our general facts and arguments can be again and again set forth. The time seems to me to have come when we should move an "Annual Resolution" for the total abolition of the whole body of the vaccination laws, to include, or to be followed by, a short Act making it illegal for any public department, or other employers of labour, to make any form of vaccination or inoculation, as a preventive of smallpox or any other disease, a condition of such employment.

     In order to utilise fully the opportunities afforded by such a motion, at least two or three of our supporters in Parliament should devote themselves to a detailed study of the subject, so as to be able to discuss and elucidate it with the same energetic and thorough mastery as was exhibited by Cobden, Plimsoll, and Sir Wilfrid Lawson in the case of the reforms they urgently and successfully advocated.

     Instead of dealing wholly or mainly with individual cases, which can always be mis-stated, denied, or explained away by the medical authorities, the great masses of statistical evidence officially published should be mainly dwelt upon. The Army and the Navy, and the case of almost unvaccinated Leicester, should be again and again brought forward, not by mere statement of figures, but by comparison with other communities unlike them in respect to vaccination; and the clear and logical conclusions to be drawn from such comparisons should be clearly and strongly set forth, and again and again rubbed in, so as to reach even the limited comprehension of the average prejudiced and doctor-ridden M.P.

     The comparative smallpox mortality of men and women, in every civilised country, should be dwelt upon. The former are always more largely re-vaccinated than the women, owing to their service in the Army and Navy and in other Government offices; and, I believe, they always have a higher smallpox mortality than women. But, if vaccination has any protective power whatever, they ought to have an enormously lower mortality; and this difference should be increased by the fact that in every home the women are the nurses of the sick, the handlers of their infected clothing, and so constantly brought into contact with the disease, that they ought to show a very much higher mortality, even were they equally "protected" as the men. This case alone affords a demonstration, on the largest possible scale, not only of the uselessness of vaccination, but that it is really a cause instead of a preventive of smallpox.

     Another aspect of our case, which I should like to see more often brought before Parliament, is the horrible crime of blood-poisoning a healthy infant, with results that no one knows or can possibly know. It is as much a crime when enforced by legislators as by individuals; it is wholly opposed to science as it is to common sense; and some of its results are almost certainly seen in the great increase during the last half-century of leprosy in countries where that disease prevails, and the still more rapid increase of that most terrible of all diseases--cancer--in every civilised country, just at the period when the effect of a century of blood-poisoning has caused an ever-greater number of persons past middle-life (when cancer is most frequent) to become infected by its death-dealing and agonising germs. There is no other cause alleged for the increase of cancer so probable or so efficient as this, and our legislators should be told at every possible opportunity, that, by permitting the vaccination laws to continue on the statute books, they are responsible for the deterioration of the race, for untold agony, physical and mental, and for countless legalised though officially-concealed murders. We are far too mealy-mouthed about this matter. Plain speaking is needed to battle with the prejudices of officialdom and the vested interests of the medical profession. "Lymph" is a false term. It is diseased and disease-bearing matter, and should be called pus, and its wilful insertion into the skin of any human being should be called blood-poisoning and denounced as a crime of the first magnitude. Thus only can we bring home to the average legislator his responsibility for the terrible consequences of his ignorance and his submission to a prejudiced and interested profession.--Yours very truly,

(Signed) Alfred R. Wallace.

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