Fear of Outsiders is an American Tradition

Thank you to the History News Network for featuring my recently published book, Driven by Fear: Epidemics and Isolation in San Francisco's House of Pestilence, in my latest article, "Fear of Outsiders is an American Tradition."

On the morning of September 19, 1878, Charles C. O’Donnell, a physician with dubious credentials and the leader of the rabidly racist Anti-coolie League, seized a Chinatown dweller grotesquely afflicted with highly visible leprous sores. Forcing the man to mount an open delivery wagon, this practitioner turned politician proceeded to parade the disgraced individual through the streets of San Francisco. Stopping at several key downtown intersections before reaching Market Street and reaching the swanky Palace Hotel, O’Donnell harangued a growing and terrified crowd, emphasizing the great danger of contagion posed by his repulsive “moon-eyed leper ” At the same time, pamphlets were distributed featuring the drawing of a Chinese face ravaged by the disease and proclaiming the existence of “a thousand lepers in Chinatown.” - Continue Reading Here