Sumner's defense of Dix's Memorial

Newspaper Article

Transcription of Primary Source

Boston Courier, February 25, 1843


In the Courier of Wednesday, it is suggested with regard to Miss Dix’s memorial to the Legislature respecting the condition of the Insane Paupers in the Commonwealth, that it is extravagant -- and that suspicion is thrown on the whole of the memorial; and it is expressly stated that, “on the whole the public will be quite liberal, if they receive her facts at a discount of about fifty per cent.”

It appears from an examination of the memorial that there are twelve alms-houses, which are particularly described by Miss Dix, as the scenes of painful wretchedness. These are in the towns of Danvers, Newburyport, Saugus, Ipswich, Sudbury, Wayland, Westford, Groton, Fitchburg, Bolton, Shelburne, Newton. In the course of last autumn, in company with Dr. Howe, I visited the alms-houses in four of these towns, viz Sudbury, Wayland, Westford, and Groton. I hope I shall not be deemed presumptuous, if I volunteer my testimony in support of the statement of Miss Dix with regard to these four towns. The attempt that has been made to impeach her statements, seems to render it a duty, for all who are able to throw light upon them, to do it.

I have read over carefully the account of the visit to the four alms-houses last mentioned, and for the sake of humanity, I am sorry to be obliged to add that is accords almost literally with the condition of things at the time of my own visit. It seems superfluous to attempt to describe these scenes anew. But even the vivid picture by Miss Dix does not convey an adequate idea of the condition of the unfortunate sufferers in the alms-house at Wayland.

The correctness with which Miss Dix has described these four alms-houses, which I have seen, leads me to place entire confidence in her description of the other eight.


Curator Notes

Exact Title: 
To the Editor of the Courier
Boston Courier
Probable Date: 
February 25
Charles Sumner
Place of Publication: 
Boston, Massachusetts