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The Defenders Of The Tewksbury "Slaughter-house" Barbarities

Creator: n/a
Date: April 28, 1883
Publication: The Lowell Weekly Sun
Source: The Pollard Memorial Library


Governor Butlerís most extreme charges, namely body snatching and making shoes out of the skin of dead paupers, were eventually dropped. Nonetheless, Butlerís campaign for state oversight was deeply threatening to the managers of Tewksbury and similar institutions. In response, the superintendents of such institutions attempted to play on public disdain for paupers by saying that conditions at Tewksbury could be found at many other institutions.

In the end, Butlerís investigation improved conditions at Tewksbury. The Marsh family lost control of the almshouse, and the trustees mandated more financial accountability, better health provisions, and more administrative transparency from the new superintendent. Paupersí bodies, moreover, could no longer be disposed of haphazardly.

The investigation had a less positive effect on Governor Butlerís career. He did not retain his governorship in the next election; nor did he gain much traction in the 1884 presidential election as the candidate of the Greenback and Anti-Monopoly parties.

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THE DEFENDERS of the Tewksbury "slaughter-house" barbarities, having failed in the attempt to treat the investigation as a joke, have now taken to saying that "Tewksbury is no worse than similar institutions in other parts of the country." We suppose that this means, that, if infants are starved or poisoned for the value of their dead bodies in other States, the people of Massachusetts have no reason to find fault with the Tewksbury management! Oh, of course not. Neither should the good people of Massachusetts hold as blamable the political party which has allowed the Tewksbury almshouse to be managed as it has been according to the recent exposures. In short the Republican press of this State seem to feel, -- rather, they pretend to feel, -- that the people of Massachusetts ought to condemn the persons making these exposures, because, you know, the knowledge that our State almshouse has been run in this horrible manner will bring discredit upon our reputation as a commonwealth! Sensible people will say, on the contrary, that Massachusetts of the present day may take credit to itself, and will receive credit abroad, for having exposed and put a stop to infamies which were concealed and permitted to exist by the Massachusetts of the past, and that these infamies should be stopped anyway. It is not Massachusetts that was responsible for the Tewksbury abuses, but the Republican "Rings" that ruled the State and stood around to conceal one another's wrong doings.


"POLITICS has much to do with the Tewksbury investigation." Indeed? And did not politics have much to do with allowing those abuses to be perpetrated, and exist for years? That was "ring" politics. The people would have the kind that exposes and abolishes, rather than the kind which creates and conceals such abuses.