1874: “Decorous and admissible language fails me, in alluding to that which might have seemed incredible thirty years ago—the commanding of vaccination on a second child of a family, when vaccination has killed the first; and then sending the father to prison for refusal.”
“Historic 1885 Public Protest
As widespread skepticism of the vaccination increased, enforcement increased, with no legal recourse available to opt out of the immunization regardless of the situation or physician recommendation. Reports are abound across the world of vaccination resistors being fined and jailed or forcefully vaccinated, with parents often opting to receive these punishment in order to spare their children from vaccination. Assaults on officers enforcing vaccination occurred, and riots periodically broke out. This quote 1874 quote from Emeritus Professor F. W. Newman encapsulates the mood of the time: “Decorous and admissible language fails me, in alluding to that which might have seemed incredible thirty years ago—the commanding of vaccination on a second child of a family, when vaccination has killed the first; and then sending the father to prison for refusal.” Many reports of the horrific enforcement of these mandates and the resistance against them within the United States can be found in Chapters 8 and 9 of Dissolving Illusions. However, the most notable story and the focus of this piece occurred within England.”
“The manufacturing town of Leicester was subject to the England’s 1840 law requiring immunization, and the 1859 law requiring every child to be vaccinated within 3 months of birth. As refusal to vaccinate was punishable by fines or imprisonment or both, many vaccine refusers agreed to vaccinate. In spite of their high vaccination rates, a 1871-1872 smallpox epidemic occurred, with 3000 cases happening, of which 358 died, leading to growing skepticism of vaccination, and increasing enforcement of the vaccination mandates. In 1869, 2 criminal prosecutions occurred against vaccine refusers, while 1100 occurred in 1881 (a total of 6000 occurred during this period of prosecutions, with 64 imprisonments and 193 seizures of property being enacted against those too poor to pay the fines).
In 1884, 5000 court summons had been issued against the unvaccinated, a case load that completely overloaded the court system. Letters in local newspaper at this time revealed widespread disdain for the irrationality of the procedure and the medical profession’s steadfast defense of a dangerous practice that had clearly failed over the last 80 years.
Tensions reached a boiling point and on March 23, 1885, a large protest estimated at 80,000 to 100,000 people erupted. It was composed of citizens of all professions from across England and receive support from citizens across Europe who could not attend it. The procession was two miles long, with displays showing the popular sentiments against vaccination present throughout the crowd. The demonstration was successful, and the local government acceded to and acknowledged their demands for liberty. Many of the description of this protest (and the jubilant mood there) are extremely similar to reports I have read of the Trucker’s protest.”