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The Year 1882 in History

The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed by Congress in 1880, took effect in 1882 and remained in force for 10 years. Prejudice against the Chinese would continue for several decades, and immigrants from China would be referred to as 'the yellow peril.'

A congressional committee reported that adulteration of food had caused many deaths, and constituted a fraud upon the people. However, little was accomplished until the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Advertising for patent medicines and drugs was unregulated and was characterized by preposterous, unfounded claims. The situation did not completely fade away; for example, in the 1950s the patent medicine Hadacol was promoted by traveling shows, celebrity appearances, and far-fetched testimonials.

William H. Vanderbilt's comment, "The public be damned,' made to a reporter for the Chicago Daily News October 2, added fuel to the fire of widespread antagonism against the "robber barons' of industry. The Standard Oil Trust was incorporated by John D. Rockefeller and his associates and brought 95% of the American petroleum industry under a single management.

On September 4, 1882, electricity was used for the first time to illuminate large sections of New York City. Power was generated by the Edison Illuminating Company, financed by J.P. Morgan. However, conditions would remain primitive for years to come. In 1882, just 2% of the homes in New York were connected to a water main, and nearly all private houses had privies in the backyard. In Madison Square Garden, Jumbo, the elephant, appeared under the ownership of impresario P.T. Barnum, who had purchased the pachyderm, "the largest elephant in or out of captivity,' from the Royal Zoological Gardens for $10,000, setting off a furor in England. The elephant was a star attraction in America until he met his untimely demise when hit by a freight train in Ontario in 1885. Jumbo's name entered the English language as an adjective for unusually large size.

Jesse James, the notorious outlaw who was then living under the name of Thomas Howard, was shot and killed by a friend who sought to claim a large cash reward for James "dead or alive."