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date: 19 June 2021

Chemical and Biological Weapons Policy 

Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Foreign Relations
Author(s):
Thomas I. FaithThomas I. Faith

The first documented incidence of biological warfare in what would become the United States occurred when the British military disseminated smallpox blankets to Native Americans in the area of Fort Pitt during Pontiac’s War, but the incident had no direct effect on later US policy. The first fragmentary US policies associated with chemical and biological weapons emerged during the Civil War. Confederate physician Luke P. Blackburn is alleged to have shipped clothing worn by yellow fever patients to northern US cities. While yellow fever cannot be transmitted in this manner, the plot is one of only a few rare attempts at biological warfare in the era before the first microscopic observations of a virus. Various attempts to poison water sources with the bodies of dead animals, or by other methods, to render the water undrinkable by advancing armies, were also rumored at different times during the war.... ...

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