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Dec December

In Their Own Words

December 05, 1772

Letter on Early Care for Mentally Ill

This letter from Savannah merchant James Habersham to the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations shows reference to what may have been the first provision for care of the mentally ill and retarded in Georgia history:

“… I have the Honor of receiving your Lordship’s letter of the 29th July last, enclosing a Draught of a Clause proposed to be inserted in the Commissioners for Governors of His Majesty’s Plantations in America, respecting to the Care and Custody of Ideots and Lunaticks, agreable to the Usage and Practice in England, which I referred to the Chief Justice and Attorney General, to enquire into the Laws and Usage of this Colony to see, whether there is anything, that will furnish any Objection against the Clause proposed, and report the same to me - Accordingly they have made their Report, a Copy of which is herewith enclosed, and I am humbly of Opinion with them, that it would be highly expedient to insert the Clause in the Commission for the governor of this Province… .”

Source: Collections of the Georgia Historical Society, Vol. VI, The Letters of the Hon. James Habersham, 1756-1775 (Savannah: Georgia Historical Society, 1904), p. 218.