Monday, December 9, 2013

Dorothea Dix Fountain, a Boston Monument

Dorothea Lyne Dix Fountain 
Sculptor   Warren Freederfield      1984 redo replica of 1888 Granite sculpture

Dorothea Lynde Dix (April 4, 1802 – July 17, 1887) was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. During the Civil War, she served as Superintendent of Army Nurses, her even handed care of both Union and Confederate Soldiers alike.

 But her health broke down, and from 1824 to 1830 she was chiefly occupied with the writing of books of devotion and stories for children. Her Conversations on Common Things (1824) had reached its sixtieth edition by 1869. In 1831 she established in Boston a model school for girls, and conducted this successfully until 1836, when her health again failed. In hopes of a cure, in 1836 she traveled to England, where she had the good fortune to meet the Rathbone family.

 The Rathbones were Quakers and prominent social reformers. Dix met men and women who believed that government should play a direct, active role in social welfare. She was also exposed to the British lunacy reform movement, whose methods involved detailed investigations of madhouses and asylums, the results of which were published in reports to theHouse of Commons.

Dix circa 1850-55
 She was instrumental in the founding of the first public mental hospital in Pennsylvania the Harrisburg State Hospital in 1853.
 The outcome of her lobbying was a bill to expand the state's mental hospital in Worcester, Ma.

The culmination of her work was the Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane, legislation to set aside 12,225,000 acres of Federal land (10,000,000 acres  for the benefit of the insane and the remainder for the "blind, deaf, and dumb"), with proceeds from its sale distributed to the states to build and maintain asylums. Dix's land bill passed both houses of Congress, but in 1854 President Franklin Pierce vetoed it.

Dorothea Dix gave this what appears to be a water fountain for citizens, instead a horse watering stop in the middle of the city of Boston, to the George Thorndikes Angel’s animal humane society for dumb animals.

"Boston Bronze and Stone Speak To Us" intends to add this granite historical Boston Monument into our next edition.

"Boston Bronze and Stone Speak To Us" can be purchased on, Best Sellers Cafe Book Store, Old North Church Gift Shop, Barnes& Noble Book Stores.