"Yellow Fever Fight" - History -
Daily Star
15 July 1898

Yellow Fever Fight.
Staten Island Once in a State of Rebellion Over the Disease.
The first "packet" running between New York and Staten Island began its
voyages semiweekly in 1755, and the ferrymen summoned the passengers by the
blast of a horn.  For a number of years afterward communication between the
city and Staten Island was generally intermittent, and the attempt made
officially 40 years ago to utilize a portion of Staten Island, now the most
tranquil, law abiding, bucolic, sylvan and placid subdivision of the city of
New York, for quarantine purposes created a disturbance so remarkable in
character, so clearly at variance with the pacific nature of the inhabitants
and so dangerous to the state that he record of it seems almost to be
exaggerated.  The old provincial council years before the breaking out to
the Revolutionary war established a quarantine, especially for vessels
coming from the West Indies, many of them Dutch possessions at that time, on
Bedloe¹s island.  After the close of the Revolutionary war the quarantine
establishment was removed to Governors island, but that was objected to on
the ground of the proximity to New York. Nevertheless it continued in use
until the state purchased 30 acres of land within the township of Castleton
for quarantine purposes.

In the summer of 1856 there was an outbreak of yellow fever, and the
inhabitants of Castleton organized into a mob and armed with sticks, stones,
guns, and torches, attacked the quarantine building, which they set on fire
and destroyed, despite the resistance of the local authorities and calls for
soldiers from other states.  The state authorities began to erect new
quarantine buildings, but these in turn were burned by another mob of
violent Staten Islanders, all efforts to placate whom failed utterly.
Recruits even were sent to aid the Staten Islanders from New Jersey.  The
hostility to the establishment of a quarantine increased in strength.  The
Castleton board of health declared it a nuisance, and on the night of
September 1, 1856, the place was attacked by a mob, the sick were carried
from the hospitals and laid upon mattresses in the fields, the officers and
physicians were driven off, and all the buildings, save the woman¹s hospital
were destroyed by fire. The next night the remaining hospital was burned down.

The governor declared the island in rebellion and sent troops against the
Staten Islanders, but without effect. John A. KING, a resident of Long
Island, was at that time governor.  He proclaimed Staten Island under
martial law, but the inhabitants remained obdurate.  They refused to
recognize KING and after destroying 32 buildings declared they would never
lay down their arms until the Œyellow jack¹ was removed.  Ultimately
Richmond county was compelled to pay for all the losses occasioned but the
state receded from its position and abandoned its claim to the right of
quarantine on State Island, a floating hospital being established instead by
a commission appointed by the legislature for that purpose. Horatio SEYMOUR
was at the head of it. ­ New York Sun.

Transcriber:Mimi Stevens