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EpidemicsHate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS$
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Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198819660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198819660.001.0001

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Smallpox and Collective Violence

Smallpox and Collective Violence

(p.279) 12 Smallpox and Collective Violence

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Oxford University Press

This chapter discloses seventy-two incidents of smallpox collective violence from gangs of twenty-five to riots involving thousands of people, lasting weeks, and conquering entire districts of major cities, such as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Montreal. For the most part, these ‘mobs’ comprised ‘respectable citizens’ who torched smallpox hospitals, cremated the diseased victims, or ‘riddled’ their bodies with bullets. As with the individual acts of violence explored in the previous chapter on smallpox (Chapter 11), these attacks rose in number only with the epidemic of 1881–2 and turned on class and racial hatred of ‘the Negro’, ‘Bohemian’, ‘Chinaman’, and recent immigrant.

Keywords:   smallpox, class conflict, Milwaukee, Turtle Creek, Chicago, Montreal, racism, anti-native, anti-Chinese, Deep South

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