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 Some years ago, the Legislature of Massachusetts, at the suggestion of several benevolent gentlemen whose attention had been turned to the subject, appointed a commission to inquire into the condition of the idiots of the Commonwealth, to ascertain their numbers, and whether anything could be done in their behalf. The commissioners were Dr. Samuel G. Howe, so well and honorably known for his long and arduous labors in behalf of the blind, Judge Byington, and Dr. Gilman Kimball. The burden of the labor fell upon the chairman, who entered upon it with the enthusiasm, perseverance, and practical adaptation of means to ends which have made him so efficient in his varied schemes of benevolence. On the 26th of the second month, 1848, a full report of the results of this labor was made to the Governor, accompanied by statistical tables and minute details. One hundred towns had been visited by the chairman or his reliable agent, in which five hundred and seventy-five persons in a state of idiocy were discovered. These were examined carefully in respect to their physical as well as mental condition, no inquiry being omitted which was calculated to throw light upon the remote or immediate causes of this mournful imperfection in the creation of God. The proximate causes Dr. Howe mentions are to be found in the state of the bodily organization, deranged and disproportioned by some violation of natural law on the part of the parents or remoter ancestors of the sufferers. Out of 420 cases of idiocy, he had obtained information respecting the condition of the
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