Chained, naked, beaten with rods , and lashed into obedience! A Crusade Is Launched. Her efforts over the next forty years led fifteen states to establish hospitals for the mentally ill and resulted in the founding of another seventeen asylums by local authorities or private benefactors.
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She extended her efforts to include penal reform as well, publishing in her Remarks on Prisons and Prison Discipline in the United States. She died in Trenton, New Jersey , on 17 July Unitarian Influence.
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Dix was born 4 April in Hampden, Maine. She lived at times with the family of the most famous spokesman of the Unitarian faith, minister William Ellery Channing. Although Dix received little formal education, she recognized that teaching offered the readiest outlet for advancing her ideals. Her stern methods antagonized her pupils, however, and her plans to make her mark in education crumbled.
Asylum Lobbyist. In the s Dix shifted her ideas from the schoolroom to a different institutional context, the insane asylum.
Dix became famous as a lobbyist traveling from state to state advocating the establishment of new mental hospitals. In her early campaigns she attracted attention and developed credibility by preparing reports on the condition of the insane in each state. As her reputation spread she was able to rely on individual appeals to state legislators and cooperation with other supporters of asylum construction, including boosters of town development and physicians specializing in the treatment of mental illnesses.
By her efforts had been instrumental in the founding of new mental hospitals in New Jersey , Pennsylvania , Kentucky , Illinois , Tennessee , North Carolina , Alabama , and Mississippi in the seven years since her first crusade in her home state of Massachusetts had ended in the expansion of the Worcester State Asylum. Land Politics. She professed to complete disgust with party politics, and among other goals her proposal would insulate public asylums from the political complications of relying entirely on legislative appropriations.
She became especially friendly with President Millard Fillmore and through him exercised key decision-making authority in the establishment of the Government Hospital for the Insane later Saint Elizabeths Hospital. Contrary to her nonpartisan stance, the bill eventually advanced into the national spotlight because of its Whig origins. The tactic illustrated the ways in which the Democratic and Whig parties defined themselves through opposition to each other. Civil War.
During the sectional conflict Dix illustrated the situation of conservative Whigs whose party had dissolved. She supported her friend Fillmore on the Know Nothing ticket in and her friend John Bell on the Constitutional Union ticket in When the war came, her political savvy and humanitarian reputation earned her an appointment as Superintendent of Women Nurses for the Union army, a position of greater authority in the federal government than any woman had ever held.
She hoped that she would be able to replicate the success of Florence Nightingale five years earlier in not merely providing aid to sick and wounded soldiers but also in providing a political symbol that helped to unify a divided nation. The shattering of her reputation revealed the ways in which American values changed during the war, underlining particularly the determination of women to manifest the organizational discipline fostered by the war rather than applauding the self-reliance that Dix sought to exemplify.
When she returned to the politics of insane asylums after the war she found that similar growth of bureaucratic management had undermined much of her influence. She died in after living for years in guest suites of mental hospitals that she had helped to found. Thomas J. Dorothea Lynde Dix was an American reformer whose pioneer efforts to improve treatment of mental patients stimulated broad reforms in hospitals, jails, and asylums in the United States and abroad.
When Joseph failed at farming, he became an itinerant preacher and wrote, printed, and sold tracts, which his wife and daughter laboriously sewed together. Dorothea remembered her childhood in that bleak, poverty-stricken household as a time of loneliness and despair.
At the age of 12 she ran away from home and made her way to Boston, where she persuaded her grandmother to take her in. Two years later Dorothea went to Worcester to live with a great aunt and opened a school, which she maintained for 3 years. She returned to Boston in to attend public school and to study with private tutors.
In Dix opened an academy for wealthy young ladies in her grandmother's house. She also conducted a free school for poor children. As a teacher, she was a strict disciplinarian, a rigorous moralist, and a passionate explorer of many fields of knowledge, including the natural sciences. Her contagious joy in teaching made her schools highly successful.
Dorothea Dix Hospital | NCpedia
During convalescent periods from attacks of chronic lung disease, she wrote children's books. In ill health forced Dix to abandon teaching; she went abroad for 2 years.
When she returned to America, she was in better health but irresolute about her future. Four years of indecision ended when she volunteered to teach a Sunday school class for young women in the East Cambridge, Mass. She discovered that the quarters for the insane had no heat, even in the coldest weather. When the jailer explained that insane people did not feel the cold, and ignored her pleas for heat, she boldly took the case to court and won. For 2 years Dix traveled throughout Massachusetts, visiting jails, workhouses, almshouses, and hospitals, taking notes on the deplorable conditions she observed.
In Dr. Despite bitter opposition, the reform bill passed by a large majority. Dix went on to other northeastern states and then throughout the country, state by state, visiting jails, almshouses, and hospitals, studying their needs, and eliciting help from philanthropists, charitable organizations, and state legislatures for building and renovating facilities and for improving treatment.
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In Dix took her fight to Congress in an attempt to win appropriation of 12,, acres of land, which would provide tax revenue for asylums. The bill finally passed both houses only to be vetoed by President Franklin Pierce. The discouraged reformer then traveled through England, Ireland, and Scotland, inspecting mental hospitals. English and Irish institutions were not bad, but Scottish facilities were appalling, and Miss Dix set about to improve them, taking her case finally to the lord advocate of Scotland.
Perhaps Dix's most significant European accomplishment was in Rome, where she discovered that "6, priests, monks, 3, nuns, and a spiritual sovereignty, joined with the temporal powers, had not assured for the miserable insane a decent, much less an intelligent care. He ordered construction of a new hospital and a thorough revision of the rules for the care of mental patients.
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In Dix volunteered her services for wartime duty in the Civil War. Appointed "superintendent of women nurses," she set up emergency training programs, established temporary hospitals, distributed supplies, and processed and deployed nurses. Despite wartime hardships she never relaxed her standards of efficient service, proper procedure, and immaculate hospital conditions. Her inspections of army hospitals did not make her popular with authorities, and her stringent ideas of duty and discipline were not shared by the relatively untrained nurses and jealous officials, who resented her autocratic manner.
Although she was often discouraged by petty political opposition and the ever present problems of inadequate facilities, supplies, and staff, she carried out her duties until the end of the war. Dix resumed her reform efforts until age forced her to retire. Until her death in she made her home in the Trenton, N. The most commonly cited biographies of Dorothea Dix are early ones. Francis Tiffany, The Life of Dorothea Lynde Dix , is a standard work which contains copious quotations from letters and reports.
More recent is Helen E. Marshall, Dorothea Dix: Forgotten Samaritan Her father was a farmer but became an itinerant Methodist preacher when he failed at farming. Dorothea Dix spent her early years in poverty, moving frequently and living a life she saw as bleak and lonely. At age twelve she moved to live with her grandparents in Boston. This was the first of several dramatic turns she was to experience in life. Dix enjoyed and excelled at learning, and set up her first school at age fourteen. While she displayed a joy in teaching, she was also strict — she did not shy away from humiliating disobedient children.
Dix operated her first school for three years in her aunt's home in Worcester. She closed the school to return to Boston and her own studies. In Dix opened another school in her grandmother's Boston home. After a year she added a free charity school for poor children. Even while her schools were successful, ill health plagued Dix. Typically, Dix overworked herself and was forced to temporarily abandon teaching.