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"As it is with individuals, so it is with communities; and society, moved by pity for some special form of suffering, hastens to build up establishments which sometimes increase the very evil which it wishes to lessen.

"...There are several such already in this country; and unless we take heed there will be many more. Our people have rather a passion for public institutions, and when their attention is attracted to any suffering class, they make haste to organize one for its benefit.

"...But instead of first carefully inquiring whether an institution is absolutely necessary, that is, whether there is no more natural and effectual manner of relieving the class; and afterwards, taking care that no vicious principle be incorporated into the establishment; they hastily build a great showy building, and father within its walls a crowd of persons of like conditioned infirmity; and organize as community where everything goes by clock-work and steam.

"If there be a vicious principle in the organization, as of closely associating persons who ought to live apart, it is forgotten in admiration or contrivances for making steam do what once was done by the good house-wife, with her cook and maid; and of the big bright coppers, that garnish walls, and the white floors."


Samuel Gridley Howe
Samuel Gridley Howe

Audio: From Samuel Gridley Howe Keynote Address