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Here are some facts about Dorthea Dix and her reform movements;
1) Dorthea fled home at the age of 12 because of her father’s alcoholism.
2) She was a schoolteacher in Boston for many years, and despite her constantly failing health opened at least three schools during her time there.
3) She eventually traveled to England where she became acquainted with the lunatic reform movement there and decided that the U.S. could benefit from a similar movement.
4) Dorthea began her movement in Massachusetts, investigating the states system of caring for the insane.
5) Dorthea succeeded in getting the states mental hospital expanded.
6) She traveled to many states and succeeded in getting hospitals built and funded in most of them.
7) There is a hospital in North Carolina named after her.
8) That hospital nearly closed in 2010 due to budget problems.
9) Dorthea nearly succeeded in getting the federal government to set aside 10,000,000 acres of land throughout the U.S. for the care of the mentally insane.
10) It passed the house and senate, but was vetoes by Franklin Pierce who didn’t think it was the job of the federal government to care for the mentally ill.
11) Dorthea was also instrumental in forming the Union nurses core during the Civil War.
12) She beat Elizabeth Blackwell for the job.
13) She was apparently a pretty tough woman to work for and was called “Dragon” by the nurses on her staff.
14) She usually fired nurses who she didn’t personally hire.
15) She created a set of standards for nurses to follow that included dressing like you were going to a funeral.
16) She cared for both the Union and the Confederate armies soldiers.
17) This made her a target for Radical Republicans, but eased tension with the south after the war.
18) After the war, she set about trying to rebuild the asylum system in the destroyed south.
19) She spent the last part of her life in a hospital she helped create in New Jersey.
20) She appeared on a postage stamp in 1983 honoring great Americans.
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