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Record number: WCP4838

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Alfred Russel Wallace
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16 September 1883

Sent by Alfred Russel Wallace, Nutwood Cottage, Frith Hill, Godalming to Tebb [none given] on 16 September 1883.

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13 November 2012 by Catchpole, Caroline


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Wallace, Alfred Russel. (1883). [Letter to 1883 anti-vaccination conference]. The Vaccination Inquirer and Health Review, 5(56): 160. [p. 160]

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[[1]]1 [p. 160]

Frith Hill, Godalming, Sept. 16, 1883.

Dear Mr. Tebb,--I am quite unable to accept your invitation to attend the Conference at Berne, but I sympathise entirely with your object, and wish you a speedy success.

Like so many other people, till a few years back I had not a doubt as to the efficacy of vaccination. I accepted it blindly as one of the established facts of science. Having been led to look into the evidence on the subject, I was first startled by the discrepancy of the statistics of small-pox mortality with the vaccination theory, and on further inquiry I was amazed to find that the evidence in favour of vaccination was of the most shadowy kind, while there was good reason to believe that it was itself a cause of disease of the most serious nature.

I have also been struck by the (apparent) want of honesty in the defenders of vaccination, in repeating over and over again statements which are not true, and in actually falsifying the records of small-pox mortality by entering all doubtful cases as "unvaccinated."

I have no doubt whatever that any unprejudiced person who will investigate the evidence on both sides for himself will arrive at the same conclusion as I have done, that to enforce on unwilling parents a surgical operation which they honestly believe to be injurious and as to the efficacy of which there is so great a diversity of opinion even among medical men, is a gross infraction of personal liberty entirely unjustified by any proved beneficial results.--Believe me yours very faithfully,

Alfred R. Wallace.

Note Appearing in the Original Work

1. I refer to the often-repeated statements, that re-vaccinated hospital nurses never have small-pox, that among re-vaccinated soldiers and sailors deaths from small-pox are unknown, and that the two classes, vaccinated and unvaccinated, do not differ in any respect than as regards vaccination, all of which statements have been repeatedly shown to be untrue.--A. R. W.


1. Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A letter of support sent to the Berne International Anti-Vaccination Congress held on 28 September 1883 "and following days." Printed on page 160 of the November 1883 issue of The Vaccination Inquirer and Health Review.


This transcript originates from Charles H. Smith’s The Alfred Russel Wallace Page website (http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/index1.htm): See http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S368.htm

Please note that work on this transcript is not yet complete. Users are advised to study electronic image(s) of this document, if available.