Portsmouth Asylum
Newport Daily News - 1851 Transcripts

January Session - At Providence
Wednesday Morning, Jan. 22
    House - A very voluminous report of the Commisioner of the public poor and insane of the State, was read by the Commissioner, Mr. Thomas R. Hazard. The report was very minute in its facts and statistics, and gives a very perfect idea of pauperism in every town in the State, setting forth the age, birth-place, and sex of each pauper, and the length of time during which each one has been dependent on the town for support. It also sets forth the manner of aiding or supporting the poor in each town, the school facilities afforded to pauper children, and what religious privileges are provided by the town
    At a quarter before 6 o'clock, the reading of the report was suspended until Thursday morning.

January Session - At Providence
Thursday Morning, Jan. 23
Senate - The Senate met at 10 o'-clock.
    Mr. Buffum introduced a resolution directing the Judiciary Committee to report what alteration (if any) is necessary in the act respecting guardians. - Read and Passed.
    House - The bill authorizing the city of Providence to appoint Special Police Constables was referred back to the Judiciary Committee.
    The reading of the report of the commissioner on the public poor and insane, was resumed and concluded.
    The concluding portions of the report are highly interesting, as embracing important facts which have come under Mr. Hazard's observation, and suggesting improvements in our care of the poor and insane.
    Five thousand copies of the report were ordered to be printed. A vote of thanks to Thomas R. Hazard, Esq., for his report was passed.

January Session - At Providence
Friday Morning, Jan. 24
    Senate - The report of the Commissioner on the Insane and Pauper poor, was read and accepted.
    Resolution ordering the printing of the same, was read and referred to the Committee on Education, with instructions to report the print of not less than 5000 copies of said report.

Wednesday Morning, Jan. 29
    Senate - Resolution to print report of Thos. R. Hazard Commissioner of insane and Pauper Poor, read and concurred with an amendment.
    Mr. Manchester presented a communication from the Commissioners of the Poor of the town of Portsmouth, and from Borden Chace complaining of the incorrectness of the report of the State Commissioner, which was read and informally laid upon the table.
    The State Commissioner made a statement insisting upon the correctness of his report in relation to the matter referred to, and offering to prove the facts therein stated.

Monday Morning, Feb. 10
    Senate - An act regulating the confinement and discipline of the poor was taken up.
    The first section, as recommended by the committee, provides that no pauper over seventeen years of age, shall be subject to corporal punishment or be subject to solitary confinement for a longer term than twenty-four hours.
    Mr. E. H. Hazard moved to strike out the words, "over senventeen years of age." He said the right to conflict corporal punishment was conferred by some of our laws; but in all cases the law presumed that the person had some parent or guardian to redress the wrong that might be inflicted. In the case of the pauper there was nobody to assert his rights. They had no refuge to fly to; nobody to stand by and protect them, if the law did not. He thoght the time had gone by, when flogging should be resorted to, even to make children better. The spirit of the age was against it, as unnatural, barbarious, and ineffective.
    Mr. Porter sustained the motion in an able speech. The kind of punishment which the bill allowed in certain cases, had already been abolished in our navy and in most of our public schools. It was shameful that it should be retained in our management of paupers. It did no good, but only created hate and a spirit of revenge. It was humiliating and wrong, and he believed, wholly unnecessary. It had been shown that those naval commanders, as Stockton and others, who never resorted to it, were most successful in sustaining a perfect discipline; while flogging there had uniformly been found to create necessity for it. He thought we could safely dispense with it in every department of life, and that we certainly should dispense with it in the treatment of those whose first great offence was poverty.
    Mr. Ames defended the bill and opposed the amendment at some length. He thought the keepers of pauper children should be allowed to correct them under the same regulations which applied to parents and children. He had not advanced so far as to believe that corporal punishment was never advisable in the government of children. He thought they needed correction sometimes, if we would not permit them to turn out to be vagabonds and criminals, and he was satisfied that no method of correction was better than that usually adopted by the father for his child. He was not sure that corporal punishment should be applied to children more than twelve or fourteen years of age, but he felt confident that proper discipline could not be maintained in asylums, any more than in families, without occasional resort to it.
    Mr. Cranston spoke briefly against the motion.
    Mr. F. Brown thought we were going too far in prohibiting flogging in all cases. He thought public sentiment would prevent any great abuse of the power to punish.
    Mr. Sheffield said he would not leave the power to punish in the hands of the keeper of an asylum, because the report of the Commissioner had shown that it would sometimes be abused. He believed the overseers of the poor should always be consulted. He believed, also, that we should not authorize the flogging of persons 16 or 17 years of age; for they were capable of reasoning, and should be approached with reason, rather than force. He moved to strike out seventeen years of age, and substitute fourteen.
    Mr. R.G. Hazard said he concurred with the gentleman last speaking that reasonable persons should not be flogged. He would ask that gentleman if he would flog a person incapable of reasoning, say two months old?
    Mr. Sheffield. - I would not.
    Mr. H. - Nor I either, and I take for granted, therefore, that we both believe corporal punishment to be improper in all cases.
    After some further remarks, the motion of Mr. Sheffield prevailed and the bill was so amended as to prohibit corporal punishment for persons over fourteen years of age.
    The question recurred on the motion of Mr. E. H. Hazard to make the bill prohibit corporal punishment in all cases.
    Mr. Hazard sustained the motion in some very able remarks - instancing many cases where kindness had reformed criminals after brutality and punishment had failed to do anything more than drive them from bad to worse.
    Mr. Bosworth opposed the amendment very strongly. The law provided no penalty for violation, and would not be worth a farthing if passed He contended there was not, either, any necessity for legislation on the subject. - He was not in love with this sickly philanthropy - this following after new isms, - and he would not vote to remove the wholesome restraints which were now provided against insubordination or any improper conduct.
    Mr. Davis spoke very eloquently in favor of the amendment. Corporal punishment would undoubtable produce submission; and if immediate submission was all that was wanted there was no excuse for tolerating it. But it reformed nobody, and produced no permanently good result. He hoped we should try the experiment of dispensing with it, for one year at least; if it did not operate well, he would vote to go back again to the old usage. But he apprehended no difficulty. The world, or the State would not be upset, by the abolition of flogging in our poor houses, for a single year.
    After some further remarks by Mr. Bosworth and Mr. Cranston, the house adjourned.
    The bill to regulate the correction and discipline of the poor came up in order.
    The question was upon the adoption of Mr. E.H. Hazard's amendment, abolishing all corporal punishment by keepers and overseers of the poor.
    Mr. Mallery made some remarks against the amendment.
    The ayes and noes were called on the amendment, and it was adopted, as follows:
    Ayes - Messrs. Andrew, Anthony, Babcock, Barnes, Bateman, Blanchard, F. Brown, Chase, Coe, Cottrell, Cranston, Dana, Eldred, Finch, Greene, A. Harris, R. H. Harris, E. H. Hazard, R. G. Hazard, Holden, Hopkins, Kinyon, Lapham, Porter, Rathbone, Sheldon, Smith, Wardwell, Weaver, Wetherell - 30.
    Noes - Messrs. Allen, Ames, Blodget, Bosworth, G. H. Brown, Brownell, Clarke, Collins, Ellis, Fiske, Gorham, Hall, Hawkes, Howard, Hutchins, Mallery, Mathewson, Peckham, Perry, Saunders, Sheffield, P. Spencer, Updike - 23.
    Several other amendments were now offered, but before any action was taken on them.
    Mr. Fenner Brown moved to lay the bill on the table, and the motion prevailed as follows:
    Ayes - Messrs. Ames, Andrew, J. Anthony, Babcock, Barnes, Blanchard, Bosworth, F. Brown, G. H. Brown, Brownell, Clarke, Coe, Collins, Cottrell, Ellis, Fiske, Gorham, Greene, Hall, R. Harris, Hawkes, Hopkins, Howard, Mallery, Mathewson, Peckham, Saunders, Smith, Wetherell - 26.
    Noes - Messrs. Allen, Bateman, Blodget, Chase, Cranston, Dana, Eldred, Finch, A. Harris, E. H. Hazard, R. G. Hazard, Holden, Hutchins, Kinyon, Lapham, Perry, Porter, Rathbone, Sheffield, Sheldon, Spencer, Updike, Wardwell, Weaver - 24.

[1] Newport Daily News, Friday, 24 January 1851
[2] Newport Daily News, Saturday, 25 January 1851
[3] Newport Daily News, Tuesday, 28 January 1851
[4] Newport Daily News, Friday, 31 January 1851

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

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

[Search!] [Survey] [Planning] [Projects] [Outreach] [What's New!]

Copyright © 1999-2002, REWHC. All Rights Reserved
1288 have visited