Subjects for Insane Asylums


History of Amador County, California, with illustrations and biographical sketches of its prominent men and pioneers


          Whiskey and the excitement of mining, with its gains and losses, hopes and disappointments, sent a fearful number to the Insane Asylum, the average from Amador county, according to the reports, being one a month. As to whiskey as a cause of insanity, the opinion of E. T. Wilkins, Commissioner in Lunacy for the State of California, as found in his report to Gov. H. H. Haight[1], December 2, 1871, may be to the point:


            With regard to intemperance * * * It seems to be the bane of all countries and claims its victims in every civilized nation and under every form of government. It is the common enemy of mankind, the destroyer of domestic happiness, the copartner of every crime from petit larceny to murder. It is the father of poverty, the creator of debauchery and the principal working tool of the devil. No man is bold enough to defend it and yet it is tolerated by all classes of society. It finds its way alike to the house of the rich and the home of the poor. It is the boon companion at the festive board of the aristocrat and the poorly provided table of the cottager. It has caused more heart-aches, produced more tears, engendered more sorrows, starved more babies and led to more insanity than any other agent in existence – if not more than all other causes combined. We are strongly inclined to the opinion that directly or remotely it is more potent in producing these results than all other causes. It is the sin of civilization that it has found out ways of extracting alcohol from natural substances, so that it is offered in tempting forms and accessible abundance to the weak and incautious who would not instinctively seek it, as well as those who whose appetites demand it. If, then civilization is responsible for the introduction of this destructive element among mankind, it is certainly its duty and it should be compelled, to provide for its victims.  How to arrest its progress, if, indeed, it be possible we must leave to the wiser heads of the Legislature and the statesman; and he who can solve the problem will be the wisest of men than has ever yet appeared among them.

[1] Henry Huntly Haight b May 20, 1825 d Sep 2, 1878; son of Fletcher Haight 1799-1866 & Elizabeth MacLachlan 1801-1827

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