Dorothea Lynde Dix Research Paper

860 Words 4 Pages
The year is 1841. A 39-year-old woman is teaching Sunday school in a womens’ jail in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. As she teaches, she is consistently appalled by the treatment of mentally ill inmates.This experience starts a crusade that lasts the next 46 years until the day of her death. This woman is Dorothea Lynde Dix. Born to a poor family in 1802, she was possibly neglected and saw her early life as bleak and lonely. Dix moved to live with her grandparents at the young age of twelve, which was the first of several dramatic turns in her life. She set up her first school at age fourteen, and was a very strict but joyful teacher. She closed the school after three years to focus on her own studies. She later opened two new schools, one which was free to poor children. Even as her schools were successful, Dix had been frequently and chronically ill, which was what lead to her physician recommending her to go to Europe to recover. Upon her return, the conditions of the East Cambridge jail angered her. She took the jailer to court to improve the conditions …show more content…
She gave numerous memorials to the legislature of Massachusetts, her most famous being titled ‘I Tell What I Have Seen.’ (Dix) Dix wrote an act that she presented to the US Congress in 1854. The Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane originally asked that 10,000,000 acres of land be released and used for places of treatment for mentally ill people. (United States) It passed both houses of Congress, but was vetoed by President Franklin Pierce, who stated that it was the state's responsibility to provide for these people. (Peirce) Dix also returned to Europe, which led to her going on a tour of the jails, almshouses, and hospitals. She found that the conditions there were not unlike the US. Dix caused many reforms, in Scotland and surrounding countries. She alerted the Pope on these issues, who then required that new hospitals for better treatment be built and established.

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