Dorothea Dix pleads for a state mental hospital
[Insane persons kept in jails or poorhouses]
In nearly every jail in North Carolina, have the insane at different times, and in periods varying in duration, been grievous sufferers. In Halifax County, several years since, a maniac was confined in the jail; shut in the dungeon, and chained there. The jail was set on fire by other prisoners: the keeper, as he told me, heard frantic shrieks and cries of the madman, and “might have saved him as well as not, but his noise was a common thing he was used to it, and thought nothing out of the way was the case.” The alarm of fire was finally spread; the jailer hastened to the prison: it was now too late; every effort, (and no exertions were spared,) to save the agonized creature, was unavailing. He perished in agony, and amidst tortures no pen can describe.
[Insane persons kept at home]
This creature, is a man — insane for more than thirteen years — for a long time suffered to range the country far and wide, addicted to mischief and disposed to violent acts. For assuring public and private safety, his family have adopted the only alternative of confining him upon their own farm, rather than seeing him thrown into the dungeon of the County jail. Of these two evil conditions, I confess, I see no choice. The family though enjoying the means of decent livelihood, when unburthened by extra expenses, have not the means of sending him to a distant Hospital. The rich may partake the benefits such institutions afford: the poor must suffer, agonize, and bear heavily out, by slow-killing tortures, their unblessed life! Are there no pitying hearts, and open hands that can be moved by these miseries?