Protest from Shelbourne in response to Dix's Memorial

Newspaper Article

Transcription of Primary Source

The Franklin Democrat, February 14, 1843

To the Editor of the Democrat:

Sir -- An article published in the Boston Mercantile Journal a few weeks since and copied into the Gazette & Courier this week, extracted from a Memorial to the Legislature by Miss Dix, is a most slanderous reflection upon the Overseers of the poor, and the inhabitants of the town of Shelburn. We have not seen Miss Dix’s Memorial, and therefore do not know her object or motive, or what she expects to accomplish in presenting and publishing it, with the bare-faced falsehoods, false impressions, and false statements, as she has done in the case of the insane pauper in this town.

It must be that she formed her opinion respecting the treatment of Mr. Bull from hearsay, and gave the statement as her imagination had received the impression from her informer.

There are some, and Miss Dix may be one of them, who are always on tip-toe, looking forward for something more marvelous than is to be discovered in real life; and because the things themselves will not come up to this pitch of the imagination, and imagination is brought down to them, and has a world of its own creating.

It seems from one remark she makes, that she had had a description of his treatment, situation, &c; for she says that she had heard of the bad condition of a lunatic pauper in this town, and his case seemed to be pretty well known throughout the County. But if it is so, she is none the less guilty of the falsehoods, as she had visited him and professes to give a true description of his case, from actual observation. Or it may be she did not make her notes at the time of her visit, but at some future time, and filling up the hiatus in her memory by a heavy draught upon the imagination; for we cannot be made to believe that a person, and that person an educated female too, could publish such an outrageous slander upon any community whatever, intentionally.

You are respectfully requested to give the enclosed certificates an insertion in your next paper and oblige

Yours, &c.

Shelburne, Feb. 9th.


We, the undersigned, citizens of the town of Shelburne, and near neighbors of Mr. Lawrence Kemp, have seen with regret an extract from Miss Dix’s memorial published in the Boston Mercantile Journal, and from thence transferred into the Greenfield Gazette & Courier.

The circumstances related in the “extract” concerning the treatment of Mr. Bull, the “lunatic pauper,” his food, clothing, the building in which he is kept, &c., we here-by publicly declare to be false, whether intentionally or otherwise we do not say. In justice to Mr. Kemp we make this statement, and for the sake of those at a distance who may see the paper above mentioned, which have copied the slanderous extract from Miss Dix’s memorial: to those who know Mr. Kemp, and who are acquainted with his respectability of character, humanity and integrity, such a vindication would be unnecessary.

We are further induced to make this declaration: from having been informed that the publisher of the Gazette & Courier alledges some of the inhabitants of Shelburne, vouch for the truth of Miss Dix’s statement. To their falsity we bear witness, and cannot believe any individuals acquainted with Mr. Kemp, will express a contrary opinion till the publisher of the Gazette & Courier shall produce their names, and make them publicly responsible for such a statement.

Signed -- Gad Townsley, Thadeus Merrill, J.B. Bardwell, Samuel L. Bardwell, Cyrus Kemp, E. D. Thompson, Epephus Alvoril, Solomon Smead, J. B. Whitney, Isaac Dole, Joel Nims, Reuben Nims, Moses A. Barnard, George W. Carpenter.

Shelburne, February, 1843.


We, the undersigned, in justice to Mr. Kemp, hereby certify that the article which appeared in the Mercantile Journal, and also in the Gazette & Courier, extracted from Miss Dix’s memorial to the Legislature, contains statements concerning Mr. Bull, the lunatic pauper, the treatment he receives, and the building in which he is lodged, that are absolutely untrue, and that we can attribute this perversion only to misrecollection or intentional misstatement. For charity’s sake we incline to the former belief, but a sense of what is due to the town of Shelburne, the public, and Mr. Kemp, call on us thus seriously to give our testimony, that Mr. Bull is as humanely treated, well sheltered, clothed, fed and cared for, as his circumstances will allow; and in none of the particulars here mentioned does he or has he suffered, since he has been in the charge of Mr. Kemp.

Joseph Merrill, Jr.
James Anderson,
Selectmen and Overseers of the poor for the year 1841-2

Wm. Long, Jr.,
James Bishop,
Apollos Barnard,
Selectmen and Overseers of the poor of the town of Shelburne for the year 1842-3.

Shelburne, Feb. 1843.


We, the undersigned, practicing physicians in the town of Shelburne, do hereby declare that we have personally examined the tenement in which Mr. Justin Bull, lunatic, is kept by Mr. Lawrence Kemp, and that we found the same well warmed, and the insane man himself well clothed. Both careful inquiry, and personal observation, on our part, confirm the statements in the foregoing certificates.

Chas. M. Duncan, M.D.
Stephen J. W. Tabor, M.D.

Shelburne, Feb. 1843

Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
To the Editor of the Democrat
The Franklin Democrat
Probable Date: 
February 14
Citzens of Shelbourne
Place of Publication: 
Greenfield, Massachusetts