August 28's Fact of the Week: 1873 Queue Ordinance

The 1873 Queue Ordinance, or the Pigtail Ordinance, was a law established to force prisoners in San Francisco, California, to have their hair cut within an inch of the scalp to prevent outbreaks of lice and fleas. While the law did not discriminate between races, it critically affected the Han Chinese prisoners in particular, as it meant that they would have their queue, a waist-long, braided pigtail, cut off. Since beginning of the Qing Dynasty, Han men in China had been required to wear the queue, as a sign of submission to the ruling Manchu people, however over time the queue became a symbol of national identity for the Chinese.