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Madness in the City of Magnificent Intentions$
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Martin Summers

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190852641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190852641.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2019

“Humanity Requires All the Relief Which Can Be Afforded”

“Humanity Requires All the Relief Which Can Be Afforded”

The Birth of the Federal Asylum

(p.13) 1 “Humanity Requires All the Relief Which Can Be Afforded”
Madness in the City of Magnificent Intentions

Martin Summers

Oxford University Press

This chapter covers the prehistory of Saint Elizabeths, including efforts to manage the insane in the District of Columbia in the first half of the nineteenth century and the establishment of the hospital in 1855. It examines how local officials, the federal government, and District residents addressed the problem of mental illness through public policy and private care. The chapter also reveals the role that ideas of racial difference played in decisions about where to locate Saint Elizabeths’ and its original design. Maintaining strict separation of the races became a central objective of the hospital’s first superintendent, Charles H. Nichols, as he laid out the hospital. This objective was in keeping with the moral treatment model of nineteenth-century asylum psychiatry.

Keywords:   Charles H. Nichols, Dorothea Dix, asylum architecture, lunacy laws, moral treatment, segregation

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