Benjamin Waterhouse (March 4, 1754, Newport, Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations – October 2, 1846, Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a physician, co-founder and professor of Harvard Medical School. He is most well known for being the first doctor to test the smallpox vaccine in the United States, which he carried out on his own family.
Waterhouse first wrote to then-President John Adams, his former roommate, hoping to spread the word about cowpox vaccinations preventing smallpox. When he found President Adams unresponsive, he wrote a letter to Vice President Thomas Jefferson entitled "A prospect of exterminating the smallpox."
Jefferson replied with a letter dated Christmas Day, 1800, and soon offered his support. Once Jefferson became President the following year, Waterhouse introduced Edward Jenner's method of cowpox vaccination in the United States. He attempted to maintain a monopoly over the cowpox vaccine, for both financial reasons and to protect the vaccine from incompetent or fraudulent physicians. Waterhouse made the first vaccinations in the United States on four of his children. He commissioned a controlled experiment at the Boston Board of Health in which 19 vaccinated and 2 unvaccinated boys were exposed to the smallpox virus. The vaccinated boys demonstrated immunity and the 2 unvaccinated boys succumbed to the disease.
According to wikipedia