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San Francisco Bulletin, March 19, 1890. Woah: murder charges for a septicemia death? (I assume that’s what’s going on here). This blue gum thing was huge from the 90s through the ‘Teens. Earliest reference I’ve found to it was in an 1888 medical journal. White people either write it off as a black superstition or, if they believe, invoke the authority of black folk knowledge. Awful lot of medical men are among the believers too.


  1. Ok, murder is probably stretching things a bit, but the manner of death could arguably be homicide (specifically manslaughter). The events that lead to the farmer’s death trace directly back to the bite, making the bite the proximate cause of death, with the resulting infection being the mode of death.

    • Manslaughter at the limit. If I were his defense lawyer, I’d hustle to exclude any testimony about gum color as irrelevant and prejudicial.

  2. If one were a blue gum negro , one would of course be aware of it and generally believe that one’s bite would be fatal.

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