IV. The Rise of the Institutions 1800 - 1950 B. 1850 - 1880: Make the Deviant Undeviant
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Poor Houses
Early Poor Houses

Since it was unthinkable in 1848 for a woman to address Congress, Dix had Samuel Gridley Howe, a well-known social reformer, present her speech. Her specific appeal – that the United States set aside 5 million acres of land throughout the nation to accommodate persons with disabilities – was passed by both houses of Congress but vetoed by President Pierce. Through her passionate appeals, and with only the best intentions for persons with disabilities, Dix helped to prepare the way for public institutions.


In 1842, a training school for children with disabilities was established in Berlin, and another in Leipzig in 1846. England also established training schools at this time. In 1842, Johann Jakob Guggenbühl (1816-1863), a young doctor, established a school for "cretins" in Switzerland. When Guggenbühl was 20 years old, "he was stirred by the sight of a dwarfed, crippled cretin of stupid appearance mumbling the Lord's prayer at a wayside cross."