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The Pox of LibertyHow the Constitution Left Americans Rich, Free, and Prone to Infection$
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Werner Troesken

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226922171

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226922195.001.0001

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From the Ideology of the Township to the Gospel of Germs

From the Ideology of the Township to the Gospel of Germs

(p.14) Two From the Ideology of the Township to the Gospel of Germs
The Pox of Liberty

Werner Troesken

University of Chicago Press

This chapter describes how the evolution of three ideologies simultaneously influenced economic development and the provision of public health in American history. The first of these was the ideology of the township. This ideology fostered a public health system that was highly localized and predicated on individual consent and private action. The history of smallpox vaccination suggests this township approach worked well so long as communities were small, ethnically homogeneous, and tightly knit. But as America industrialized and urbanized, the ideology of the township began to break down. The demise of the ideology of the township was hastened by the ideology of commerce and the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, which created a new language of individual liberty. The rise of the germ theory of disease also undermined the ideology of the township because the public health initiatives it suggestedrendered state actionfar more effective than measures based solely on individual behavior.

Keywords:   Tocqueville, Ideology of the Township, Ideology of Commerce, 14th Amendment, Due Process Clause, Equal Protection Clause, Germ Theory of Disease

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