The ASPCA was founded in New York City by the philanthropist Henry Bergh after he saw peasants beating horses during a trip to Russia. Rinderpest, referenced in the following Nation editorial note of May 24, 1866 (during the brief spell in which the magazine came out twice a week!), was an infectious virus blamed for accelerating the fall of the Roman Empire; it was prevalent among European cows in the 18th century, and survived well into the 20th. In 2011, the United Nations officially declared rinderprest only the second disease ever eradicated from the earth, the first being smallpox in 1979.

A correspondent who is a warm friend of the newly-established society for the prevention of cruelty to animals, and rejoices in the relief which that body has secured for calves in butchers’ carts, writes to us making a strong appeal on behalf of green turtles and terrapins. He describes the sufferings of the turtles, when left exposed to the sun on the sidewalks, as very great; but the utilitarianism of the age is curiously illustrated by his urging, as the strongest argument against this treatment of turtles, the superiority of steaks cuts from turtles fresh from the salt water over steaks cut from those which die by inches in the city. There was, when the Rinderpest was at its height in England, a similar odd mixture of pity for the beasts and sorrow for the loss of the meat visible in most of the lamentations over the plague.

March 10, 1866

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