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their recovery, and that house was by no means fitted for such purposes; did charitably consult together, and confer with their friends and acquaintances, on the best means of relieving the distressed, under those circumstances; and an Infirmary, or Hospital, in the manner of several lately established in Great Britain, being proposed, was so generally approved, that there was reason to expect a considerable subscription from the inhabitants of this city, towards the support of such a Hospital; but the expense of erecting a building sufficiently large and commodious for the purpose, it was thought would be too heavy, unless the subscription could be made general through the province, and some assistance could be obtained from the assembly; the following petition was therefore drawn, and presented to the house on the 23d of January, 1750-51.
To the honourable House of Representatives of the Province of Pennsylvania,
The petition of sundry inhabitants of the said Province,
"That with the numbers of people the number of lunaticks, or persons distempered in mind, and deprived of their rational faculties, hath greatly increased in this province.
"That some of them going at large, are a terrour to their neighbours, who are daily apprehensive of the violences they may commit; and others are continually wasting their substance, to the great injury of themselves and families, ill disposed persons wickedly taking advantage of their unhappy condition, and drawing them into unreasonable bargains, &c.
"That few or none of them are so sensible of their condition as to submit voluntarily to the treatment their respective cases require, and therefore continue in the same deplorable state during their lives; whereas it has been found, by the experience of many years, that above two thirds of the mad people received into Bethlehem Hospital, and there treated properly, have been perfectly cured.
"Your petitioners beg leave further to represent, that though the good laws of this province have made many compassionate and charitable provisions for the relief of the poor, yet something farther seems wanting in favour of such whose poverty is made more miserable by the additional weight of a grievous disease, from which they might easily be relieved, if they were not situated at too great a distance from regular advice and assistance, whereby many languish out their lives, tortured perhaps with the stone, devoured by the cancer, deprived of sight by cataracts, or gradually decaying by loathsome distempers; who, if the expense in the present manner of nursing and attending them separately when they come to town, were not so discouraging, might again, by the judicious assistance of physick and surgery, be enabled to taste the blessings of health, and be made in a few weeks useful members of the community, able to provide for themselves and families.
"The kind care our assemblies have heretofore taken for the relief of sick and distempered strangers, by providing a place for their reception and accommodation, leaves us no room to doubt their showing an equal tender concern for the inhabitants. And we hope they
will be of opinion with us, that a small provincial Hos pital, erected and put under proper regulations, in the care of persons to be appointed by this house, or other. wise, as they shall think meet, with power to receive and apply the charitable benefactions of good people towards enlarging and supporting the same, and some other provisions in a law for the purposes abovementioned, will be a good work, acceptable to God, and to all the good p ople they represent.
"We therefore humbly recommend the premises to their serious consideration."
On the second reading of the petition, January 29, the house gave leave to the petitioners to bring in a bill, which was read the first time on the first of February. For some time it was doubtful whether the bill would not miscarry, many of the members not readily conceiv ing the necessity or usefulness of the design; and apprehending moreover, that the expense of paying phy sicians and surgeons, would eat up the whole of any fund that could be reasonably expected to be raised; but three of the profession, viz. doctors Lloyd Zachary, Thomas Bond, and Phineas Bond, generously offering to attend the Hospital gratis for three years, and the other objections being by degrees got over, the bill, on the seventh of the same month, passed the house, Nemine Contradicente, and in May following it received the governour's assent, and was enacted into a law as follows:
An Act to encourage the establishing of a Hospital for the relief of the sick poor of this province, and for the reception and cure of lunaticks.
WHEREAS the saving and restoring useful and
laborious members to a community, is a work of pub. lick service, and the relief of the sick poor is not only an act of humanity, but a religious duty; and whereas there are frequently, in many parts of this province, poor distempered persons, who languish long in pain and misery under various disorders of body and mind, and being scattered abroad in different and very distant habitations, cannot have the benefit of regular advice, attendance, lodging, diet and medicines, but at a great expense, and therefore often suffer for want thereof; which inconveniency might be happily removed, by collecting the patients into one common provincial Hospital, properly disposed and appointed, where they may be comfortably subsisted, and their health taken care of at a small charge, and by the blessing of God on the endeavours of skilful physicians and surgeons, their diseases may be cured and removed: And whereas it is represented to this assembly, that there is a charitable disposition in divers inhabitants of this province to contribute largely towards so good a work, if such contributors might be incorporated with proper powers and privileges for carrying on and completing the same, and some part of the publick money given and appropriated to the providing a suitable building for the purposes aforesaid:
"Therefore, for the encouragement of so useful, pious, and charitable a design, we pray that it may be enacted, And be it enacted by the honourable James Hamilton, esquire, lieutenant governour under the honourable Thomas Penn, and Richard Penn, esquires, true and absolute proprietaries of the province of Pennsylvania, and counties of New Castle, Kent and Sussex, upon Delaware, by and with the advice and consent of
the representatives of the freemen of the said province in general assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful to and for all persons, each of whom shall have contributed or subscribed the sum of ten pounds or more, towards founding a Hospital, for the reception and relief of lunaticks, and other distempered and sick poor within this province, or as many of them as shall think fit to assemble and meet on the first day of the month called July next; and for all persons who shall thereafter contribute the like sum of ten pounds or more (together with the said first subscribers) or so many of them as shall think fit to assemble and meet on the second day of the first week, in the month called May, yearly for ever, at some convenient place in the city of Philadelphia, then and there to elect by ballot, twelve fit and suitable persons of their own number to be managers of the said contribution and Hospital, and one other person to be treasurer of the same, until the next election; and farther, to make such laws, rules, and orders, as shall appear to them the said contributors met, or the major part of them, to be good, useful, and necessary, for the well governing, ordering and regulating the said Hospital, and for the regulation of the future elections of managers, treasurer, and other necessary officers and ministers thereof, and for limiting and appointing their number, trust, and authority, and generally for the well ordering all other things concerning the government, estate, goods, lands, revenues, as also all the business and affairs of the said Hospital: all which laws, rules and orders, so to be made as aforesaid, shall be from time to time inviolably observed by all concerned, according to the tenour and effect of them, provided they be not repugnant to the laws of England