American Experience

The Third Degree

Clip: Season 35 Episode 1 | 4m 16s

Some etymologists trace the phrase 'The Third Degree' back to Freemasonry, but by the early 20th century, the term had become firmly associated with something entirely different: harsh police interrogation, or more accurately, torture.

Aired: 01/03/23

Rating: NR

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The Chinese Six Companies


The Chinese Six Companies

On May 28, 1900, San Francisco policemen formed a perimeter around Chinatown as officials diagnosed bubonic plague in the neighborhood and wanted to quarantine the nearly 20,000 residents. As tensions flared, an influential group of merchants known as the Chinese Six Companies sprang into action.