Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/50

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Turning now to our own country we find the care of the insane in the American colonies prior to the Revolution to differ in no way from the treatment during the same period in Europe. In the Old Colony Laws of Plymouth (1660) provision was made that persons who commit suicide "shall be denied the privilege of being buried in the common burying place of Christians, but shall be buried in some common highway, where the selectmen of the town where such persons did inhabit, shall appoint, and a cartload of stones laid upon the grave, as a brand of infamy, and as a warning to others to aware of the like damnable practice." In jails, almshouses and the outhouses of private dwellings, the insane were kept, often in chains and in filth, and deprived of light and proper warmth. No attempt was made toward special provision for them until 1745, when an asylum was erected in New York City, on the spot where the City Hall now stands, for the reception of the 'indigent poor, the sick, the orphan, the maniac and the refractory.' But the first institution in America for the remedial treatment of the insane was founded in 1751 in connection with the Pennsylvania Hospital. Being opened 1752, "it was," says Kirkbride, "for a long period of years far in advance of all other receptacles for the insane in the United States, and, having the advantage of physicians like Bond, Shippen, Push, Wister, Physick and others of equal ability, its wards were constantly filled, and its advantages eagerly sought by patients from the most distant parts of the Union."

It is noteworthy that, besides Dr. Thomas Bond, of Philadelphia, and Benjamin Franklin, the Society of Friends was active in the inception of this hospital, a society later to be influential in the establishment of the York Retreat in England and the Friends Asylum at Frankfort, Pa. (1813), showing in these early times a more enlightened philanthropy than any other religious body and giving the impetus to a movement which in the early years of the nineteenth century was to effect a revolution in the treatment of the insane.

The first governmental institution in America was erected by the province of Virginia at Williamsburgh in 1773; but it was not until the era of peace and quietude following the wars of the Revolution and of 1812, and after the successful inauguration of the state governments that public sentiment became thoroughly aroused to the necessity of better care for these unfortunates, and state institutions sprang into existence. During the thirty years following the war of J.812 twenty-three public and private asylums were opened in the United States.

The treatment at this time was largely influenced by the writing of Dr. Benjamin Rush, a man of great intelligence and benevolence whose 'Observations on Diseases of the Mind' (1812) contained much of