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Historical Essay.

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Cartoon from The Wasp of May 26,promoting the then-common racist myth that diseases were rampant in Chinatown. Much has been chinatown canton prostitutes about anti-Chinese sentiment on the West Coast during the s and s, especially the agitation to restrict Chinese immigration into the United States. Little has been said about anti-Chinese prejudice as reflected in the formulation of public health policy on the West Coast.

Health policy, however, manifests not only the state of the medical sciences, but the expectations and the value system of society-at-large. In the era when health officials looked to sanitary reform as the primary means of preventing epidemic disease, the presence of an alien population living in substandard quarters was both socially and medically threatening. By the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the Chinese were to become medical scapegoats; up and down the Pacific coast and in the Hawaiian Islands local health officials rationalized the failure of their sanitary programs by tracing all epidemic outbreaks to living conditions among the Chinese.

This phenomenon was to last for over thirty-five years.

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Only after Chinese immigration was finally curtailed, following implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act of and amendments ofand only after scientific research began to unlock the mysteries of disease transmission did medical scapegoating begin to abate. The seeds for scapegoating in California first appeared in the s.

Whereas in the s the early Chinese immigrants had been admired for their industry and frugality, by the s the Chinese were considered to be "an inferior race" and a chinatown canton prostitutes people. Commenting in upon the dominant anti-Chinese mood of the late nineteenth century, Reverend Ira M. Condit, pastor chinatown canton prostitutes a Presbyterian Church mission in San Francisco's Chinatown sinceobserved as follows:. In when Reverend Condit was writing about the Chinese, anti-Japanese sentiment had also made its appearance on the West Coast.

However, because the high tide of Japanese immigration was to occur many years after that of the Chinese, a tradition of using the Japanese as medical chinatown canton prostitutes never developed. Advances in medical knowledge about the causation and transmission of epidemic disease had made any arguments along this line intellectually untenable.

Instead, the Japanese were accused of having an excessively high birth rate, an argument never advanced against the Chinese.

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The Japanese arrived in the United States as family units, or male immigrants imported "picture brides"; Chinese immigrants, on the other hand, were largely male laborers who left their wives or families behind in China. This analysis will focus on the Chinese as medical scapegoats, dealing specifically with the situation as it existed in San Francisco from the yearwhen the city's Board of Health was reorganized, towhen public health officials concluded their five-year battle against bubonic plague in the Chinatown area.

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BySan Francisco had chinatown canton prostitutes largest concentration of Chinese in California Chinese patients were shunted off to a smallpox or "pest" hospital or to a special building, originally operated exclusively for the Chinese and later deated as the Lazaretto or Lepers' Quarters. Both of these facilities were located at Twenty-Sixth and Army streets, near the site of the future City and County Hospital opened in Inthe San Francisco Board of Health was reorganized as a distinct political unit with considerable power within the city.

Composed of the mayor and four physicians appointed by the governor of California, the board supervised the administration of the city hospitals, the jail, the correctional school the industrial schooland the quarantine system for the harbor. It also appointed a city health officer also a physician who was to oversee health and sanitary conditions within San Francisco. Thus, the pronouncements of the board and the health officer were often characterized by political or social expedience, rather than by scientific insight.

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Beginning in the s, they were to credit Chinatown with introducing and disseminating every epidemic outbreak to hit San Francisco. In the words of one astute physician writing in "The Chinese were the focus of Caucasian animosities, and they were made responsible for mishaps in general.

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A destructive earthquake would probably be charged to their. The line of attack used by health officers against the Chinese was directly related to the medical theories of the period. According to the miasmatic theory of disease popular in the s, epidemic outbreaks were caused either by the state of the atmosphere or by poor sanitary conditions affecting the local atmosphere.

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Chinatown, with its "foul and disgusting vapors," was regarded as the primary source of atmospheric pollution within the city. Numerous citations were issued by the health authorities for such sanitary offenses as "generating unwholesome odors," improper disposal of garbage, faulty construction of privy vaults and drains, and failure to clean market stalls.

Nevertheless, the epidemic raged on, resulting in some 1, reported cases with deaths among the white population of San Francisco.

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Meares, offered the following explanation:. To the sanitarians of the s, Chinatown was more than a slum. It was "a laboratory of infection," peopled by "lying and treacherous" aliens who had minimal regard for the health of the American people.

The general acceptance of the germ theory in the s did little to dispel the popular belief that epidemic outbreaks were directly attributable to conditions within Chinatown. As before, medical theorization was inseparably linked with social attitudes and prejudices. By criticism of conditions chinatown canton prostitutes Chinatown had become so widespread that the Board of Health, responding to political pressure, issued a resolution formally condemning Chinatown as a "nuisance.

Proposals chinatown canton prostitutes quarter the Chinese outside of the city limits of San Francisco were advanced at this time, primarily under the sponsorship of the Anti-Chinese Council of the Workingmen's party. Similar proposals had been set forth since the s and would recur again in the s and at the time of the bubonic plague crisis in the early s. This central location brought the Chinese into daily contact with the Caucasian population of the city and was a constant source of irritation to many San Franciscans.

To one city health officer, Chinatown was "the moral purgatory" through which all who pass come out nauseated and disgusted, and perchance defiled by Mongolian filth or disease. Sanitarians and politicians were especially concerned about the large of so-called "courtesans" who operated in the Chinatown area. These prostitutes were believed to chinatown canton prostitutes infected with a particularly virulent form of syphilis that was almost impossible to cure. Testifying before the congressional committee investigating conditions in Chinatown inDr. Toland founder of the Toland Medical College, subsequently the University of California Medical School reported that nine-tenths chinatown canton prostitutes the venereal disease in San Francisco could be traced back chinatown canton prostitutes to Chinese prostitutes.

Since it was believed that most of the Chinese houses of prostitution were patronized primarily by whites, Chinese prostitution was seen as "the source of the most terrible pollution of the blood of the younger and rising generations. Toland stated unequivocally that he had never heard or read of any country in the world where there were so many syphilitic young men as in San Francisco. An equal source of consternation to the medical community—and to the general public—was the presence of lepers in the Chinatown area.

Apparently, by a of lepers of particularly "loathsome appearance" had drifted to San Francisco from throughout the state. While some sought treatment at the Twenty Sixth Street Lazaretto, the majority were pd to be hidden in the "subterranean dens" of Chinatown.

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During the s and early s, little was known about the etiology of leprosy. It was pd to be hereditary, contagious, incurable, more common in the male than female, and likely to disappear with hygienic improvement. As early asthe Chinese were accused of introducing "the dread scourge" of Mongolian leprosy to the West Coast.

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Inan amendment to the general police law of California made it unlawful for persons afflicted with leprosy to live in ordinary intercourse with the population of the state and provided that such persons "be compelled to inhabit lazarettos or lepers' quarters.

Of the lepers admitted to the Lazaretto from July,to April,were classified as "Mongolians" and 83 of the total were ultimately shipped back to China. Except for cases of leprosy, deportation on medical grounds was not a common procedure during the nineteenth century.

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Rather, immigration officials attempted to prevent the entry into this country of persons suspected of carrying contagious disease. Regulations for reporting infectious disease on incoming vessels had existed since the s. Byshipmasters entering San Francisco harbor were required to report to the quarantine official of San Francisco all cases of Asiatic cholera, smallpox, yellow fever, typhus, and "ship fever. Generally, quarantine of incoming passengers was laxly enforced during the s.

However, with the acceptance of the germ theory in the s, efforts were intensified to prevent the importation of foreign germs into this country. A regulation of the San Francisco Board of Health, dated June,specified that all vessels arriving from Asiatic ports must be detained for inspection, fumigation, and disinfection.

Until the s, quarantine of incoming vessels was generally a state function. The National Quarantine Act of had empowered the surgeon general of the United States Marine Hospital Service to enforce port quarantine only if he did not interfere with the laws and procedures of the states involved. With the implementation of this law came a series of jurisdictional disputes chinatown canton prostitutes the quarantine officer of San Francisco and officers of the Marine Hospital Service.

These disputes, which lasted into the early years of the twentieth century, often hampered the effective administration of quarantine procedures. Inbubonic plague was reported in Canton and Hong Kong, and within a short spell of time, the disease spread throughout the Port cities of the Far East. Under the board's ruling of December 16,all Chinatown canton prostitutes and Japanese passengers, together with their baggage chinatown canton prostitutes portable effects, were to be remanded to the city's quarantine station. In the 's, bacteriologists began to isolate the micro organisms responsible for some of the most feared diseases known to man.

Important dates of discovery include: typhoid fever, ; tuberculosis, ; cholera, ; diphtheria, ; tetanus, ; and bubonic plague, Congress, House, Chinese Immigration, Misc. Revell Co. Arthur B. Gelwicks,p. Logan, M. Thomas W. Chinn, ed. Marion Read and Mary E. San Francisco,p.

Gunther Barth, Bitter Strength. Meares, M. Orme, M. Barry,p. Hereafter cited as San Francisco Ordinances.

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Rosebud T. Document Next Document. : Chinatown Chinese s s s s s Public Health. What Links Here. Donate via PayPal one time or monthly or become a Patreon patron. TraunerCalifornia History MagazineCartoon from The Wasp of May 26,promoting the then-common racist myth that diseases were rampant in Chinatown.

Condit, pastor of a Presbyterian Church mission in San Francisco's Chinatown sinceobserved as follows: There seems to be a combination of reasons chinatown canton prostitutes breed and keep alive this animosity against our Mongolian brothers. Race antagonism has undoubtedly something to do with it, but the fact that they do not assimilate with us has more.

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