Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Dix, Dorothea Lynde

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DIX, Dorothea Lynde, philanthropist, b. in Worcester, Mass., about 1794; d. in Trenton, N. J., 19 July, 1887. After the death, in 1821, of her father, a merchant in Boston, she established a school for girls in that city. Hearing of the neglected condition of the convicts in the state prison, she visited them, and became interested in the welfare of the unfortunate classes, for whose elevation she labored until 1834, when, her health becoming impaired, she gave up her school and visited Europe, having inherited from a relative sufficient property to render her independent. She returned to Boston in 1837 and devoted herself to investigating the condition of paupers, lunatics, and prisoners, encouraged by her friend and pastor, Rev. Dr. Channing, of whose children she had been governess. In this work she has visited every state of the Union east of the Rocky mountains, endeavoring to persuade legislatures to take measures for the relief of the poor and wretched. She was especially influential in procuring legislative action for the establishment of state lunatic asylums in New York, Pennsylvania. North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, and other states. In April, 1854, in consequence of her unwearied exertions and petitions that she presented to congress in 1848 and 1850, a bill passed both houses appropriating 10,000,000 acres to the several states for the relief of the indigent insane; but the bill was vetoed by President Pierce, on the ground that the general government had no constitutional power to make such appropriations. During the civil war she was superintendent of hospital nurses, having the entire control of their appointment and assignment to duty. After its close she resumed her labors for the insane. Miss Dix published anonymously “The Garland of Flora” (Boston, 1829), and “Conversations about Common Things,” “Alice and Ruth,” “Evening Hours,” and other books for children; also, “Prisons and Prison Discipline” (Boston, 1845); and a variety of tracts for prisoners. She is also the author of many memorials to legislative bodies on the subject of lunatic asylums and reports on philanthropic subjects.