“The Position of the Horse in Modern Society,” The Nation, 1872

In 1872, an epidemic of equine influenza swept the United States, infecting horses and stalling horse-drawn public transportation. Such a noticeable disruption in the rhythms of urban mobility underscored the extent to which modern life still depended on animal power. The epidemic also spurred reflection on the place of the horse within modernity’s moral imaginary. Treating the horse in a fashion similar to the urban industrial worker, the author argues for the moral and material incentives for caring for the sanitary and health conditions of horses in their urban workplaces.

What does this essay reveal about changing moral attitudes toward urban workers–human and animal? How does the author challenge the reader to think about the intersection of urban systems, in this case of health and energy?


“The Position of the Horse in Modern Society.” The Nation. (October 31, 1872): 277-278.

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