Dorothea Dix

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It wasn't a good idea to be insane in New Jersey 150 years ago. The state had no mental hospitals. People who went mad were just locked up in poor houses and jails, or farmed out to who ever would care for them cheapest. But in 1844 the Yankee reformer Dorothea Dix came to New Jersey to agitate for the construction of a modern state asylum. To prove her point, she traveled around the state to document …

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…debate. Some lawmakers thought an asylum would be too expensive; it would be cheaper, they said to transport Dorothea Dix across the state line. One assemblyman said the proposed asylum was too extravagant an an Egyptian Coliseum. But in the end, Dix won, and the New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum was built in Ewing Township. It still stands there, a monument to what one courageous woman could do. It happened in New Jersey. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ **Bibliography**