The Spirit of Pestilence

Press and Propaganda

The Daily British Colonist followed the smallpox epidemic of 1864 in intermittent articles from March 1862 to February 1863. At the beginning of the epidemic, it called for the government to send Natives, who were particularly affected by the disease, out of Victoria. By June, it was criticizing the "cruel apathy and stolid indifference" of the government and the missionaries for failing to stop the epidemic and help the Natives.1

Why did the Colonist change its tune so quickly? The following pages show some of the forces that helped to shape the Colonist's portrayal of the epidemic.

[British Colonist] Discover how the attitudes expressed in the Colonist changed over the course of the smallpox epidemic.
[Amor de Cosmos] The views expressed in the newspaper articles are not necessarily shared by all of Victorian society. Learn more about Amor De Cosmos, the editor of the British Colonist and likely author of most of the smallpox articles.
[Graves] Historical trends can help to express the ideas expressed in the British Colonist. Read the pages on other reactions, and especially the Colonists and Contradictions page to find more about colonists' views of race and where they came from.