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Pox: an American history

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Pub. Date:
2011.
Language:
English
Description
The untold story of how America's Progressive-era war on smallpox sparked one of the great civil liberties battles of the twentieth century. At the turn of the last century, a powerful smallpox epidemic swept the United States from coast to coast. The age-old disease spread swiftly through an increasingly interconnected American landscape: from southern tobacco plantations to the dense immigrant neighborhoods of northern cities to far-flung villages on the edges of the nascent American empire. In Pox , award-winning historian Michael Willrich offers a gripping chronicle of how the nation's continentwide fight against smallpox launched one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century. At the dawn of the activist Progressive era and during a moment of great optimism about modern medicine, the government responded to the deadly epidemic by calling for universal compulsory vaccination. To enforce the law, public health authorities relied on quarantines, pesthouses, and "virus squads"-corps of doctors and club-wielding police. Though these measures eventually contained the disease, they also sparked a wave of popular resistance among Americans who perceived them as a threat to their health and to their rights. At the time, anti-vaccinationists were often dismissed as misguided cranks, but Willrich argues that they belonged to a wider legacy of American dissent that attended the rise of an increasingly powerful government. While a well-organized anti-vaccination movement sprang up during these years, many Americans resisted in subtler ways-by concealing sick family members or forging immunization certificates. Pox introduces us to memorable characters on both sides of the debate, from Henning Jacobson, a Swedish Lutheran minister whose battle against vaccination went all the way to the Supreme Court, to C. P. Wertenbaker, a federal surgeon who saw himself as a medical missionary combating a deadly-and preventable-disease. As Willrich suggests, many of the questions first raised by the Progressive-era antivaccination movement are still with us: How far should the government go to protect us from peril? What happens when the interests of public health collide with religious beliefs and personal conscience? In Pox , Willrich delivers a riveting tale about the clash of modern medicine, civil liberties, and government power at the turn of the last century that resonates powerfully today.
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ISBN:
9781594202865
9781101476222
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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 9f5b866f-11b3-6607-7dd3-804dd0e66467
Grouping Title pox an american history
Grouping Author willrich michael
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-11-19 22:45:26PM
Last Indexed 2019-11-19 23:44:11PM

Solr Details

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author Michael Willrich
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display_description The untold story of how America's Progressive-era war on smallpox sparked one of the great civil liberties battles of the twentieth century.
At the turn of the last century, a powerful smallpox epidemic swept the United States from coast to coast. The age-old disease spread swiftly through an increasingly interconnected American landscape: from southern tobacco plantations to the dense immigrant neighborhoods of northern cities to far-flung villages on the edges of the nascent American empire. In Pox, award-winning historian Michael Willrich offers a gripping chronicle of how the nation's continentwide fight against smallpox launched one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century.
At the dawn of the activist Progressive era and during a moment of great optimism about modern medicine, the government responded to the deadly epidemic by calling for universal compulsory vaccination. To enforce the law, public health authorities relied on quarantines, pesthouses, and "virus squads"-corps of doctors and club-wielding police. Though these measures eventually contained the disease, they also sparked a wave of popular resistance among Americans who perceived them as a threat to their health and to their rights.
At the time, anti-vaccinationists were often dismissed as misguided cranks, but Willrich argues that they belonged to a wider legacy of American dissent that attended the rise of an increasingly powerful government. While a well-organized anti-vaccination movement sprang up during these years, many Americans resisted in subtler ways-by concealing sick family members or forging immunization certificates. Pox introduces us to memorable characters on both sides of the debate, from Henning Jacobson, a Swedish Lutheran minister whose battle against vaccination went all the way to the Supreme Court, to C. P. Wertenbaker, a federal surgeon who saw himself as a medical missionary combating a deadly-and preventable-disease.
As Willrich suggests, many of the questions first raised by the Progressive-era antivaccination movement are still with us: How far should the government go to protect us from peril? What happens when the interests of public health collide with religious beliefs and personal conscience? In Pox, Willrich delivers a riveting tale about the clash of modern medicine, civil liberties, and government power at the turn of the last century that resonates powerfully today.
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primary_isbn 9781594202865
publishDate 2011
record_details
Bib IdFormatFormat CategoryEditionLanguagePublisherPublication DatePhysical Description
ils:CARL0000366968 Book Books English Penguin Press, 2011. 422 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
overdrive:1426992c-0cbb-4a15-a90b-098a86a7ecfc eBook eBook English Penguin Publishing Group 2011
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series Penguin history of American life
series_with_volume Penguin history of American life|
subject_facet Epidemics -- United States -- 19th Century -- History
Epidemics -- United States -- 20th Century -- History
Smallpox -- Epidemiology -- United States
Smallpox -- History -- United States
title_display Pox : an American history
title_full Pox : an American history / Michael Willrich
Pox An American History
title_short Pox :
title_sub an American history
topic_facet Epidemics
Epidemiology
History
Nonfiction
Smallpox