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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 20, 2010


JAMA. 2010;304(15):1729. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1410

The constant reader of the daily newspaper, if he reflects on the difference between our national attitude respecting the cholera menace in 1892 and that almost universally exhibited at the present day in regard to a similar situation, will be tempted to conclude that the American nation has progressed toward a greater self-control. The attempted “quarantine” at Fire Island eighteen years ago cannot have been forgotten by many of our readers. Recollections of the barbarities there practiced in the name of sanitary protection may even yet cause a feeling of shame in the citizen jealous of his country's reputation for sanity and soberness of judgment. To be sure, the panic of 1892 was quickly over, so that the New York papers could soon speak reprovingly of “the savagery that has lately disgraced our shores,” but while it lasted it was acute and to all appearances amazingly general. As a matter of fact, cholera did get into New York in spite of the brutal quarantine measures that were employed. Perhaps more would have got in with a less barbaric quarantine, but it could probably have been suppressed quite as readily as the smaller quantity.

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