Portsmouth Asylum
Proposed Laws and Amendments

  Proposed Laws and Amendments 1

I will now respectfully present for your consideration, outlines of such enactments as in the progress of my investigation, it has occurred to me might be beneficial to the great cause of humanity, and redound to the honor and eventually to the interest of our state.

1st. That corporal punishment, and all imprisonment or confinement in dark rooms, or in dungeons, be totally prohibited at Asylums for the poor, in Rhode-Island, by Statute law.

2d. That no pauper shall be closely confined or imprisoned for a longer period than five days, for any one offence, under the authority of a town law, or of the regulations of an Asylum for the poor; and that in all cases of close confinement, it shall be required of the Commissioner or officers of the Asylums or poor houses, to report the same to the Town Council or corresponding municipal authority as often as once in three months – stating the name of the pauper or paupers, together with their offence and the period of their confinement.

3d. That the use of chains in Asylums for the poor, or bonds intended to confine the limbs, be positively prohibited; excepting in instances where they may be absolutely necessary to effect the removal of an insane person to a curative Hospital, or to transfer a pauper, charged with the commission of a crime, to the officers of the state.

4th. That after the passage of this act, all persons who may become insane and chargeable to the public shall be placed at the Butler Hospital, provided they may be received there at a rate not exceeding that which is now charged that institution for the maintenance and treatment of Insane paupers.

5th. That the sum of fifteen dollars per quarter, for a year, be appropriated out of the State Treasury, towards the payment of the maintenance of each insane pauper who may be placed at the Butler Hospital after the passage of this act, and who shall have become after the first day of this present year.*

6th. That the annual sum already appropriated by law for the education of the Deaf and Blind be increased to the sum of $2000 per annum; and that henceforth the provisions of the Act in all its specifications, be extended so as to include such idiotic pupils as may be placed at institutions now established, or that may be established, for the education or improvement of Idiots, as the Commissioner appointed by law to dispense the fund may approve.

Transcription (C) 2002, William Saslow from:
[1] Thomas R. Hazard, Report on The Poor and Insane in Rhode Island; Made to the General Assembly at its January Session, 1851, Providence: Joseph Knowles, State Printer, 1851, pps 106-111.


Portsmouth Asylum Links
  Historical Context
  Act Establishing (1832)
  Inventory Report (1833)
  Rules & Regulations (1838)
  Committee Report (1840)
  Committee Report (1857)
  The Portsmouth Cripple (1848)
  Produce Sold (1849)
  Meat Sold (1849)
  Town Council Excerpts
  1865 Census Excerpts
  1875 Census Excerpts
  1892 Account Book
  Committal Letters (1867)
  Oakum and Idle Hands
  Newport Daily News Clips (1851)
  Site Mapping (10/5/01)
  NPR Interview
  Town Farm Cemetery

Historical Texts:
  Report on Poor & Insane (1851)
  Fales Memoir (1851)
  Peterson's History (1853)

Selected Biographies
  Thomas R. Hazard -1
  Thomas R. Hazard -2
  Seth R. Anthony
  William R. Fales

Fun and Games
A Day at the Portsmouth Asylum

Other Poorhouse Links
The Poorhouse Story

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