Lincoln's Small-Pox

Scientists believe it was a very serious strain of the disease with a 30 percent chance of death. Lincoln had it when he gave the Gettysburg Address:

To reach that conclusion, the researchers contrasted the clinical features of Lincoln's illness as cited in a host of sources with the manifestations of smallpox, of the milder form of smallpox that occurs in immunized people and of the most common diseases with symptoms that mimic smallpox.

"The serious form of smallpox, known as variola major, was the only disease that closely fit Lincoln's clinical features: high fever, weakness, severe pain in the head and back, prostration, skin eruption -- plus the severity and approximately 21-day duration of Lincoln's illness," said Dr. Armond S. Goldman, an emeritus professor in the Department of Pediatrics at UTMB and lead author of the study.

"Smallpox was rampant in the United States at that time," Goldman noted. "In addition, although immunization against smallpox was practiced in the mid-19th century, there is no historical evidence that Lincoln was immunized against smallpox before his illness." Moreover, Goldman said, "The milder form of smallpox, known as variola minor, first appeared in the United States at the turn of the 20th century and was unknown in the United States during the mid-19th century when Lincoln became ill."

"Lincoln's physicians attempted to reassure him that his disease was a mild form of smallpox," Goldman noted, "but that may have been to prevent the public from fearing that Lincoln was dying."

Jut when you thought he couldn't be more impressive a figure ...