"CHAINED, NAKED, BEATEN WITH RODS, AND LASHED INTO OBEDIENCE!"
DIX, Dorothea Lynde. Memorial. To the Legislature of Massachusetts. [Boston: Munroe & Francis, 1843]. Octavo, modern blue paper wrappers; pp. 32. $750.
Second printing of Dorothea Dix's groundbreaking essay, presented to the Massachusetts Legislature, arguing for more humane treatment of the mentally ill and relating the horrifying details of the abuses inflicted upon them.
In 1843, social reformer "Dorothea Dix petitioned the Massachusetts Legislature to pay for an expansion of the state insane asylum in Worcester, an institution she believed offered a moral, curative treatment and a haven for indigent people with mental disabilities… She appealed to both the reason and the emotions of the legislators, and in her petition, she provided evidence of the horrific conditions under which the people with mental illnesses lived" (Disability History Museum). "In her lifetime, Dorothea Dix brought about significant changes in the care of the mentally ill in North America and Europe. Her work influenced conceptions about those held in prisons and asylums by identifying mental illness as a medical rather than moral issue. Her efforts helped pave the way for improved treatment of the mentally ill as well as the creation of more than 120 new mental health facilities" (ANB). "Dix's name is synonymous with her lifelong crusade to improve the lot of the mentally ill. The present work was the first of her many communications addressed to various state governments; it described, in plain, forceful language, the appalling conditions suffered by Massachusetts's indigent insane and mentally deficient persons, most of whom at that time were incarcerated in jails and almshouses and treated with either brutality or neglect" (Norman 643). Dix briefly left her mental illness advocacy work in order to become superintendent of U.S. Army nurses in 1861, at the beginning of the Civil War. She was as dogged in her advocacy for the soldiers as she had been for the mentally ill. After the war, Dix rededicated herself to the mentally ill, visiting institutions and lobbying legislators for change. "In her lifetime, Dorothea Dix brought about significant changes in the care of the mentally ill in North America and Europe. Her work influenced conceptions about those held in prisons and asylums by identifying mental illness as a medical rather than moral issue. Her efforts helped pave the way for improved treatment of the mentally ill as well as the creation of more than 120 new mental health facilities" (ANB). Dix is now recognized as the first American woman lobbyist of national importance (Mark & Schwaab, 184-87). Dix authorized this printing to provide copies for activists and philanthropists. She also added a note to this printing expressing her belief that the conditions in Massachusetts were reflective of the conditions of asylums nationwide. See Sabin 20336. Contemporary owner signature of George Stodart Blackie, a Scottish-American physician who spent much of his life in Tennessee working in various medical positions, including during the Civil War for the Confederacy.
Mild embrowning to interior, slight soiling to final page of text, minor creasing to modern wrappers. Near-fine condition.