Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
July 8, 1851 Cover with Black Paid 3 Marking
to Mr. Henry Luther in Providence
from Samuel Mumford in Newport

(Scroll Down for Background History and Text of Letter)

The above cover is marked "PAID 3" and contains a Newport, Rhode Island July 8 CDS. The 3 cent rate for pre-paid domestic mail traveling less than 3000 miles was set by the Postal Act of March 3, 1851, effective on June 30. Under this Act, mail that was not pre-paid was charged a 5 cent rate. The cover also contains the script, "Please Forward." Can you just imagine, with all of our currently required zip code and address information of today; addressing a letter to a boarding house, "Near the First Baptist Church?"
This letter is from a Mr. Mumford, evidently a friend of Mr. Luther's and possibly the family doctor. The letter details the actions of the Jamestown Council in regards to Mrs. Luther, who is to be committed to the Butler Hospital for the Insane in Providence, Rhode Island. Although, not specifically stated; one can assume that Mr. Luther is no longer physically able to care for Mrs. Luther as evidenced by the mention of his affliction in the letter and the fact that his address is a Boarding House in Providence.

The Butler Hospital for the Insane was the first hospital in Rhode Island that was established exclusively for mentally ill patients.  The hospital was a direct result of Dorothea Dix's and  Thomas R. Hazard's, (See: Thomas R. Hazard Stampless Letter and Bio) efforts on behalf of the poor and insane. In 1844, Dorothea Dix began writing articles in the Providence Journal, describing the sub-standard and neglectful care that people with mental illness received in the state of Rhode Island. She then persuaded Cyrus Butler, a wealthy Providence industrialist to donate $30,000 towards the construction of the new hospital. Nicholas Brown II (Brown and Ives) also provided a grant.
Brown Family Letters for further information

In 1846, Dr. Luther Bell traveled to Great Britain to gather ideas to aid in the planning for the new hospital. The hospital was established in 1847 on a site overlooking the Seekonk River. Butler Hospital is thought to be America's first hospital devoted entirely to the treatment of the mentally ill. It set the standards for humane treatment of the insane in a clean and safe environment and acknowledged their legal rights. The report of Thomas Hazard on the status of the poor and insane was promulgated by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1851 and offered a guide on the humane treatment of mental patients. This report was the blueprint for treatment at Butler.

Today Butler Hospital is one of seven teaching hospitals and is affiliated with the Brown Medical School. The school conducts research in the areas of  body dysmorphic disorder, depression, smoking cessation, and obsessive-compulsive behavior

Samuel S. Mumford was born in 1813. He was a member of the Washington Encampment of Free Masons and is listed in the 1850 census for Newport, Rhode Island.

The complete text of the letter follows below:

Newport July 7th 1851

      My Dear Friend
                                   I received your letter today by your son, and I was very sorry to hear of your affliction but hope you will recover and be the better for it. As regards Mrs. Luther, the council have decided to send her to the Butler Asylum next Thursday afternoon if she can be brought in by Mr. Palmer.
I told Mr. Seatle you would not mind paying the expense of a carriage to bring her in town, and she may perhaps stay with Mrs. Burdick one night before coming up to rest here. Bathsheba and Mrs. Clarke are on Jamestown waiting. I think there is now a better prospect in store for you, a little relief from care and trouble, which you are most certainly entitled to from the most noble manner which you have stood up, under trials which many would have sunk under and given up in despair. Still, perhaps you have hours of sunshine and relief. Mrs. Luther will be better off at the asylum and you can write her often, and that will be some satisfaction to you. I met the council this afternoon and Mr. Seatle was there, and told me of the above arrangement, which will help make you feel better. Please write me soon.         Yours very Respectfully,
                                                                                     Saml S. Mumford

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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