American Experience

The War on Rats

Clip: Season 34 Episode 4 | 1m 41s

In 1900, the first case of bubonic plague to ever be confirmed in North America was diagnosed in San Francisco. Scientists did not understand how the disease was transmitted but had long theorized that rats played a role.

Aired: 05/24/22

Rating: NR

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The Chinese Six Companies


The Chinese Six Companies

On May 28, 1900, San Francisco policemen formed a perimeter around Chinatown as officials diagnosed bubonic plague in the neighborhood and wanted to quarantine the nearly 20,000 residents. As tensions flared, an influential group of merchants known as the Chinese Six Companies sprang into action.