“Spaces of Reform: Transatlantic Quakerism, the ‘Insane,’ and Publicizing Humanitarian Advocacy”

Background/Purpose Writing in 1868, the Scottish theologian John Cunningham opened his history of Quakerism with some reflections on his perception of the sect’s defining characteristics. Cunningham wrote, “I knew the Quakers only as a religious sect, which had struggled into existence amid hootings, imprisonments, and martyrdoms; but not as a benevolent Society which had blessed the world.” Then justifying the need for his book, Cunningham rhetorically asked, “who does not wish to know something of those men and women who have led the van in almost every philanthropic enterprise during the last hundred years?”1 Cunningham’s introduction nicely captured Quakerism’s evolution over its first two hundred years of existence. For a century after George Fox founded the sect in the wake of the English Civil War, Quakers were often persecuted on both sides of the Atlantic for their radical religious views. The Quaker belief in the “Inner Light” troubled many adherents of more hierarchical religions. Similarly, Quakers’ refusals to take political oaths alienated them from their fellow countrymen who did publicly pledge their loyalty to the state and its rulers. However, early Quakerism expressed a deep concern for helping the unfortunate. In 1658, George Fox called on London’s merchant class to establish a place where he said, “all the poor, blind, lame cripples should be put into, and nurses set over them, and looked to, cherished, and seen unto that they do not want; and thus they that could work.”2 So how did this reviled religion of the seventeenth century develop into one widely regarded, from the 19th century to today, as vanguard philanthropists? While much of the Quaker

humanitarian ventures in abolitionism, prison reform, insane asylum reform, and care for the indigent stemmed from religious convictions, I argue here that Quaker humanitarian ventures were also self-consciously intended to present a positive image of the religion to an Atlantic community that had initially received it with hostility. Through these positive presentations, Quaker humanitarians worked to gain legitimacy for their institutions and their sect. In illustrating this transformation, I will briefly examine the careers, reforms, and connections between two noted late 18th and early 19th century reformers — Samuel Tuke and Thomas Eddy. Tuke was an Englishman whose grandfather, William, founded the Retreat at York as an experiment in “moral treatment” for the insane. Eddy was an American who sought to apply similar principles and management techniques first to the State Prison of New York, then to the New-York Hospital, and finally to the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. My examination of Tuke and Eddy is part of my larger dissertation project that explores the ways transatlantic Quaker reformers from the late-eighteenth through the mid-nineteenth centuries engaged in abolitionism, prison reform, education reform, and their assistance in the wake of the Irish Potato Famine. I hope to understand how Quakers used of notions of what we now call “disability” in these philanthropic ventures both to reform institutions and to aid their quest for legitimacy.

For today’s presentation, however, I hope to illuminate how three central threads run throughout the work of Tuke and Eddy: • First: The ideas of “moral treatment” that Tuke and Eddy used in their institutions moved transatlantically from France, to England, and then to North America. With each transfer,

those who harnessed these ideas adapted them to their particular needs and context. Using a transatlantic approach offers a number of insights: – it illuminates the presence and dynamism of the Quaker reform network; – it illustrates how Tuke and Eddy reshaped similar institutions in both Europe and the United States; – it reveals how each man adapted these reforms differently based on his own national context. This approach purposefully challenges the exceptionalism of any particular nationstate. In essence, neither Tuke nor Eddy’s reforms reflect just British innovation nor American ingenuity. Instead, I contend that these reforms and their publicity were inherently collaborative products of this transatlantic Quaker network. • Second: Tuke and Eddy’s use of “moral treatment” in their reforms melded contemporary medical and psychological beliefs with distinctive Quaker theology. • Finally: Tuke and Eddy also drew on widely accepted post-Enlightenment ideas and discourses about bodily and cognitive difference, dependency, and normalcy. Before the Enlightenment, religious perspectives often interpreted sensory, intellectual, and physical disabilities as signs of God’s wonder or outward manifestations of spiritual failings. During the Enlightenment, philosophers like Locke and Diderot contemplated blind and deaf people as part of thought experiments to understand the human mind and define what being “fully human” truly meant.3 With the goal of improving society through reason, these thinkers helped forge the notion of “normalcy” against which deviancy and human deficiency could then be judged. Characterizing the Enlightenment, noted disability studies scholar Rosemarie Garland-Thomson labeled this transition as “a movement from a narrative of the marvelous to a narrative of the deviant.”4

Tuke and Eddy helped build legitimacy for Quakers throughout the Atlantic world by incorporating this discourse of disability and normalcy into their institutional reforms. Disability history informs my analysis here as I interpret historical descriptions of different bodily and cognitive states as social constructions rather than as objective medical diagnoses.5 Tuke and Eddy’s reform proposals are suffused with this emergent post-Enlightenment medicalized rhetoric of disability. These notions empowered those who harnessed them. Individuals who worked to cure the “insane” had the potential to not only improve society, but also help build positive reputations and potentially lucrative careers. And in their careers, Tuke and Eddy certainly used these ideas to advertise, raise revenue for, and bolster the status of their institutions and their faith.

Pinel as Foundation Before getting into the specifics of Tuke and Eddy’s connection, it is important to explain the work of French psychologist Philippe Pinel (20 April 1745 – 25 October 1826). Pinel gained his experience working with insane patients and developed the methods of “moral management” in his time as the chief physician at the l’Hôpital de Bicêtre from 1793-1795 and at the Hospice de la Salpêtrière from 1795 until his death in 1826. Pinel’s work was not entirely new. For instance, he preserved the existing classification schema of mental disease as being one of four varieties – melancholia, mania, dementia, or idiotism. However, his treatment methods revealed the influence of the Enlightenment in two ways: firstly, they were developed based on close empirical observations; and secondly, they expressed the optimism that people could develop medical treatments that would cure insanity, thereby improving the lives of the afflicted. These approaches, which became known as “moral treatment,” required a kind, yet disciplined space

that would help patients develop self-restraint and internalize social mores.6 Rejecting corporal punishment and other prevailing modes of confinement, Pinel felt that one should treat insane patients with “the vigilance of a kind and affectionate parent.” Similarly, with his own staff, Pinel used “strict discipline” and punished all instances of “ill treatment, and every act of violence” toward the patients. Pinel strove to strike the delicate balance between, as he put it, being “mild, and at the same time inflexibly firm.”7 As a result of these new ideas, Atlantic communities began a piecemeal move toward treating some people identified as “insane” or “idiots” in isolating institutions. As we will see, both Eddy and Tuke embraced this Enlightenment-forged medicalized understanding of insanity and Pinel’s ideas of how to treat those labeled as “insane.” These emergent perspectives helped elevate clinical expertise and gave social capital to the physicians, psychiatrists, and administrators of institutions that cared for the insane and feeble-minded. By adopting these notions of the diseased human mind and its surrounding rhetoric, Eddy and Tuke advanced both their institutions and the public status of their Quaker religion.

Samuel Tuke I’ll begin in England and give a bit of background on the Tuke Family. William Tuke founded the Retreat at York in 1792 as an asylum exclusively for Quaker patients. William Tuke believed that being surrounded by one’s co-religionists would, he said, “alleviate the anxiety of the [patients’] relatives, render the minds of the Patients more easy in their lucid intervals, and consequently tend to facilitate and promote their recovery.”8 Furthermore, the Retreat at York strove to establish a peaceful space, avoid harsh physical punishments, and allay the patients’ fears. This approach differed markedly from the squalid conditions and fear-instilling regimen

used at public asylums like Bethlem Hospital (which was popularly known as “Bedlam”). Using a scientific methodology, William Tuke and the Retreat’s staff developed these treatment methods through empirical observation, extensive study of contemporary medical literature, and by following their religious precepts.9 Interestingly, Tuke and the Retreat’s staff created this regimen independently of Pinel, as the latter did not publish his major treatise on “moral treatment” until 1801.10 In 1813, when Samuel Tuke, William Tuke’s grandson, published his comprehensive overview of the Retreat at York, he rewrote the history of its origins by stressing how it drew on Pinel’s methods of “moral treatment.” In this book, Tuke lauded the man he called “the intelligent Dr. Pinel” and invoked him to contend, “much may be done towards the cure and alleviation of insanity, by judicious modes of management, and moral treatment.”11 Tuke seemed aware that Pinel’s name carried with it a currency that would validate the Retreat’s methods and assure outsiders of its modern and progressive techniques. This emphasis on the Retreat’s medical foundations lent it credibility and enhanced the Tuke family’s status by associating them with contemporary, and Continental European, medical expertise and practice. To these ends, Tuke included extensive quantitative data of the Retreat’s effectiveness in his report. He also included glowing testimonials from other physicians who visited the asylum. These endorsements melded the authority of the medical community with the humanitarian associations of Quakerism. For instance, in 1798, Tuke invited Dr. Delarive of Geneva, Switzerland, to the Retreat. Delarive had previously evaluated other public and private hospitals throughout Europe, establishing his professional bona fides. After his visit, Delarive wrote glowingly of the Retreat, noting, “The respectable society of Quakers have at length endeavoured to remedy these evils [of public asylums]” by providing those “who should have the

unhappiness to lose their reason, without possessing a fortune adequate to have recourse to expensive establishments […] all the comforts of life, compatible with their situation.”12 In the Report, Tuke also fused Enlightenment empiricism with Quakerism’s particular religious tenets. For instance, Tuke described instances of moral treatment’s use at the Retreat in ways that echoed the Quaker practice of “laboring with” fellow Friends. This practice originated with George Fox and William Penn and involved earnest, heartfelt pleading intended to help an individual realize the errors of his or her thoughts or actions. Tuke’s anecdote about the case of the violent “Herculean”-sized patient illustrates this fusion. After one of this patient’s particularly violent outbursts, Tuke described the Superintendent’s response, writing: “[He] conducted him to his apartment, and told him the circumstance on which his treatment would depend; that it was his anxious wish to make every inhabitant in the house, as comfortable as possible; and that he sincerely hoped the patient's conduct would render it unnecessary for him to have recourse to coercion. The maniac was sensible of the kindness of his treatment […] after sitting some time quietly beside him, the violent excitement subsided, and he would listen with attention to the persuasions and arguments of the friendly visiter [sic]. After such conversations, the patient was generally better for some days or a week; and in about four months he was discharged perfectly recovered.”13 Tuke used this anecdote to reveal the powerful effects of moral treatment with language that subtly highlighted the Retreat’s distinctive fusion of Quaker beliefs and contemporary science. Glowing reviews of the Retreat enhanced its positive reputation and further disseminated the idea of insanity as a marginal human condition that could, with contemporary scientific techniques, be cured and improve society as a whole.

Thomas Eddy Moving across the Atlantic to North America, I want to give some brief background on Thomas Eddy, whose connection with Tuke in the 1810s proves very important. Born in Philadelphia, Eddy was a Quaker merchant who became a major philanthropist in New York, beginning his career in social reform by working to rewrite New York’s penal laws in the 1790s. Through this activity, Eddy helped create a penitentiary system that employed labor and solitary confinement in lieu of public punishments and executions. Eddy served as the first director of the State Prison of New York from 1799 to 1801 and published an account of his reforms at the end of his term. This publication stressed the caring and humane nature of the institution, but did not adopt any of the specific terminology associated with Pinel or “moral treatment.” The use of these concepts would emerge in Eddy’s later writings only after he came into contact with Samuel Tuke. In his 1801 text, Eddy, (like Tuke), stressed that the fusion of Enlightenment ideals and Quakerism directly influenced his reforms at the New York State Prison. Eddy credited major Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu and Beccaria as crucial to his reforms. These men, as he put it, brought “to light the enormous abuses and dreadful miseries produced by cruel laws and corrupt administration.” Eddy also credited William Penn’s 1680s reform of the criminal code and elimination of capital punishment in Pennsylvania as central to his governance of the prison. This Quaker influence appeared in Eddy’s decision to only hire staff and prison administrators who were, in his words, “Actuated by principles of benevolence, and a love of justice and humanity.”14 Furthermore, Eddy established practices of lay-led services in the prison, paralleling the Quaker meeting for worship, yet he still recognized the need to have

clergy lead services as well, which would appeal to other Christians in the multi-denominational context of the prison.

Tuke-Eddy Connection Tuke and Eddy, entered into correspondence with each other in 1811 and began a transatlantic exchange that extended throughout the decade. In this dialogue, the two exchanged hospital management techniques, fund raising strategies, and methods of institutional selfpresentation. Tuke’s notions of moral treatment and the power of “laboring” with insane patients greatly influenced Eddy, who adopted much of this terminology in his later writings. Eddy used these ideas and the success of the Retreat and shifted his focus away from the prison and toward another institution with which he had been involved since the early 1790s – the New-York Hospital. Eddy claimed that Tuke’s English techniques would work equally well in the United States, although, in keeping with his previous report, he presented them as more broadly Protestant in nature and less specifically Quaker to preserve the appeal to a heterogeneous religious audience. For example, in an 1815 report to the Governors of the New-York Hospital, Eddy adopted the language of Pinel and Tuke and explained that one could not treat, as he put it, “mania [as] a physical or bodily disease, and adopting for its removal merely physical remedies.” Instead, Eddy implored hospital administrators to embrace the methods of “moral management,” claiming, “Even with the more violent and vociferous maniacs, it will be found best to approach them with mild and soft persuasion.”15 Yet, in this recommendation, Eddy acknowledged that he “frequently mixed [his] own observation with [Tuke’s]” because Tuke’s “manner of expression”

was not perfectly “adapted to [the United States’] circumstances and situation.”16 In this example we can see how Eddy borrowed from and condensed Tuke’s essential philosophical tenets and governing principles from the Retreat at York and re-presented them as his own translated version tailored to a North American context. These reports served as a launching point for Eddy’s next major humanitarian venture in the state –the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum, which was completed and opened in 1821.

Conclusion So now to move to a few concluding thoughts. I believe that the Tuke-Eddy connection of the early nineteenth century points to a number of important dynamics and trends about these transatlantic Quaker reformers. Certainly, Eddy and Tuke’s parallel reform recommendations indicate the presence of a shared Quaker sensibility that spanned the Atlantic through Meetings and the dissemination of religious writings. But moreover, both authors’ writings also indicate the presence of rhetorical strategies that self-consciously harnessed Quaker identity melded with modern medical ideas as a way to give further legitimacy to their proposed reforms. Furthermore, Tuke and Eddy’s connection emerged from a transatlantic Quaker network established in the late 17th century and reflected its flexibility to embrace, (amongst a host of other concerns), a newfound focus on asylum and prison reform. As Tuke’s Retreat gained prominence and received adulation on both sides of the Atlantic, it became emblematic of Quaker humanitarianism and reinforced the sect’s positive reputation. Furthermore, Eddy, in discovering Tuke’s Retreat and corresponding with him, gained a vocabulary and set of philosophical justifications of “moral treatment” that neatly cohered with his Quaker beliefs and also had the cachet of contemporary psychology and medical authority. With this adaptation,

Eddy worked to improve the conditions in and public reputations of the State Prison, the NewYork Hospital, and later, the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum. Further transatlantic links emerge contemporaneously and in the rest of the nineteenth century, such as that between William Tuke and Thomas Scattergood, a Philadelphia Quaker who visited the Retreat at York in the 1799 and used it as inspiration to propose establishing an Asylum outside Philadelphia. Administrators at this institution, which became known as Friends’ Hospital, corresponded with the Superintendent of the Retreat at York in the 1810s as they worked to employ moral treatment in a way that would both cure insanity and lead to financial stability.17 The omnipresence of these transatlantic religious and reform connections suggest their durability. Yet, they also suggest how important Enlightenment notions were in connecting these Quaker reformers. Tuke and Eddy are just two in this wider network who embraced these emerging ideas about disability, insanity, and how to cure cognitive disorders, which they used to gain legitimacy for their institutions, their reform initiatives, and themselves. Thank you.

John Cunningham, The Quakers from Their Origin Till the Present Time: An International History (Edinburgh: John Menzies & Company, 1868), v-vi. 2 George Fox, "A Warning to all the Merchants in London, and such as buy and sell," in Gospel truth demonstrated in a collection of doctrinal books given forth by that faithful minister of Jesus Christ, George Fox: containing principles essential to Christianity and salvation held among the people called Quakers., vol. 4 (Philadelphia: 2 Marcus George T.C. Fox, Gould, "A Warning 1831), to 162. all the Merchants in London, and such as buy and sell," in Gospel truth demonstrated 3 inZina a collection Weygand, of The doctrinal Blindbooks in French given Society forth by from that the faithful Middle minister Ages to ofthe Jesus Century Christ, of George Louis Braille Fox: containing (Stanford, Calif.: principles essential to Christianity and salvation held among the people called Quakers., vol. 4 (Philadelphia: Marcus T.C. Gould, 1831), 162. 3 Zina Weygand, The Blind in French Society from the Middle Ages to the Century of Louis Braille (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2009); Ernest Freeberg, The Education of Laura Bridgman: The First Deaf and Blind Person to Learn Language (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001). 4 Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Freakery  : Cultural Spectacles of the Extraordinary Body (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 3. 5 Catherine J. Kudlick, “Disability History: Why We Need Another ‘Other’,” The American Historical Review 108, no. 3 (June 1, 2003): 763–793; Simi Linton, Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity (New York: New York University Press, 1998); Lennard J. Davis, Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (New York: Verso, 1995); Paul Longmore and Lauri Umanski, “Introduction: Disability History: From the Margins to the Mainstream,” in Paul K Longmore and Lauri Umansky, eds., The New Disability History: American Perspectives (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 1–29. 6 Gerald N. Grob, The Mad Among Us: A History of the Care of America’s Mentally Ill (New York: Free Press, 1994), 25–29. 7 Philippe Pinel, A Treatise on Insanity, trans. D.D. Davis (Sheffield: W. Todd for Cadell and Davies, 1806), 53–54.


State of an institution near York, called The Retreat of persons afflicted with disorders of the mind. (York: [s.n.], 1796), 4. 9 Louis Charland, “Benevolent Theory: Moral Treatment at the York Retreat,” History of Psychiatry 18, no. 1 (March 1, 2007): 64–66. 10 Ibid., 64. 11 Samuel Tuke, Description of the Retreat: An Institution Near York for Insane Persons of the Society of Friends (York: W. Alexander, 1813), 132. 12 Ibid., 231–233. 13 Ibid., 147. 14 Thomas Eddy, An Account of the State Prison or Penitentiary House, in the City of New-York (Printed by Isaac Collins and son, 1801), 6–7; 22. 15 Thomas Eddy, “Hints for Introducing an Improved Mode of Treating the Insane in the Asylum” (Governors of the New-York Hospital, 1815), 7, 8. 16 Ibid., 4, 5. 17 Caleb Cresson, “Caleb Cresson Letter to George Jepson, et. al.,” May 24, 1817, Collection No. 1184, Families of Philadelphia Papers, Box 16, Caleb Cresson (1775-1821) Correspondence & Manuscripts, Haverford Special Collections Quaker Collection; George Jepson, “George Jepson Letter to Caleb Cresson,” July 25, 1817, Collection No. 1184, Families of Philadelphia Papers, Box 16, Caleb Cresson (1775-1821) Correspondence & Manuscripts, Haverford Special Collections Quaker Collection.

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