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The Contagious CityThe Politics of Public Health in Early Philadelphia$
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Simon Finger

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780801448935

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801448935.001.0001

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“A Matter of Police”

“A Matter of Police”

Fever and Betrayal in the Federal Union

(p.135) 9 “A Matter of Police”
The Contagious City

Simon Finger

Cornell University Press

This chapter illustrates how the public health crises of the 1790s can illustrate the ambiguous nationhood of the early United States and the tension among the states as they attempted to situate themselves within both a national and a global context. Faced with the continuing borderless health threats, the Pennsylvanians—Philadelphians especially—were forced to think about the nature of their relationship with the world beyond the banks of the Delaware River. Philadelphia was after all the center of the quarantine debate that arose from the 1796 Smith Bill. That, in turn, reflected the ways in which interstate conflict over coordinating policy across jurisdictional lines also illuminates the ongoing argument over the place of consent and coercion in achieving consensus among individuals.

Keywords:   public health crises, Smith Bill, quarantine policy, quarantine debates, coordinating policy, interstate conflict, public health threats

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