Page images

tor. In that to Governor Mifflin they state, “ that of the many who receive pardon not one returned a convict;" and they remark, “ that the prison is no longer a scene of debauchery, idleness, and profanity; an epitome of human wretchedness ; a seminary of crimes, destructive to society; but a school of reformation, and a place of public labour.”*

* The leading features of the admirable system of prison disci. pline established in the state jail, will be understood from the fol. lowing account of the regulations, taken from Mease's “ Picture of Philadelphia.”

“ 1. Cleanliness, so intimately connected with morality, is the first thing attended to, previously to any attempts at that internal purification, which it is the object of the discipline to effect. The criminal is washed, his clothes effectually purified and laid aside, and he is clothed in the peculiar habit of the jail, which consists of grey cloth, made by the prisoners, adapted to the season. The attention to this important point is unremitted, during their con. finement. Their faces and hands are daily washed; they are shaved, and change their linen once a-wcek; their hair is kept short; and, during the summer, they bathe in a large tub. Their apariments are swept and washed once or twice a week, as required, throughout the year.

“ 2. Work, suitable to the age and capacity of the convicts, is assigned, and an account is opened with them. They are charged with their board, clothes, the fine imposed by the state, and expence of prosecution, and credited for their work; at the expiration of the time of servitude, half the amount of the sum, if any, left after deducting the charges, is required by law to be paid to them. As the board is low, the labour constant, and the work, ing hours greater than among mechanics, it is easy for the convicts to earn more than the amount of their expences; so that, when they go out, they receive a sum of money sufficient to enable them to pursue a trade, if so disposed, or, at least, that will keep them

The judiciary officers of the United States for this state are :

1. A judge, with a salary of 1600 dollars. 2. An

from want until they find employ, and prevent the necessity of stealing. On several occasions, the balance paid to a convict has amounted to more than one hundred dollars ; in one instance it was one hundred and fifty dollars ; and from ten lo forty dollars are com. monly paid.-When, from the nature of the work at which the convict has been employed, or his weakness, his labour does not amount to more than the charges against him, and his place of residence is at a distance from Philadelphia, he is furnished with money sufficient to bear his expences home. The price of boarding is sixteen cents per day, and the general cost of clothes for a year is nineteen dollars thirty-three cents.

“ 3. The prisoners lie on the foor, on a blanket, and about thirty sleep in one room; they are strictly prohibited from keeping their clothes on at night. The hours for rising and retiring are announced by a bell; and at those times they go out and come in with the greatest regularity. For their own comfort, they have established a set of rules respecting cleanliness, on breach of which a fine is exacted. No one is permitted even to spit on the floor. A large lamp is hung up, out of the reach of the prisoners, in every room, which enables the keeper or watch to see every man; and for this purpose a small aperture is made in every door. The end of the cord by which the lamps are suspended is outside of the rooms; the solitary cells is the punishment for extinguishing these lamps.

" 4. Their diet is wholesome, plain, and invigorating, and their meals are served up with the greatest regularity and order; a bell announces when they are ready, and all collect at the door leading to the passage where they eat, before any one is allowed to enter. They then take their seats without hurry or confusion, and all begin to eat at the same time. While eating, silence is strictly enjoined by the presence of the keepers, who give notice of the time for rising from table. For breakfast, they have about three-fourths

attorney, with fees. 3. A marshal, with fees. 4. A clerk, with fecs. *

Military Force.-In 1812 the militia consisted of

of a pound of good bread, with molasses and water. At dinner, half a pound of bread and beef, a bowl of soup and potatoes. Sometimes herrings in the spring. At supper, corn meal mush (mash ?) and molasses, and sometimes boiled rice.

“ The blacks eat at a separate table. There is also a table set apart for those who have committed offences for the first time, but not of sufficient enormity to merit the solitary cells; such as indolence, slighting work, impudence, &c.; and to such no meat is given. Every one finds his allowance ready on his trencher. The drink is molasses and water, which has been found to be highly useful, as a refreshing draught, and as a medicine. Spirituous liquors or beer never enter the walls of the prison. The cooks and bakers, who are convicts, are allowed thirty cents per day by the inspec. tors. The decency of deportment, and the expression of content, exhibited by the convicts at their meals, renders a view of them, while eating, highly interesting. No provisions are permitted to be sent to the convicts from without.

“ 5. The regularity of their lives almost secures them against disease. A physician, however, is appointed to attend the prison ; a room is appropriated for the reception of the sick or hurt, and nurses to attend them. The effect of the new system has been seen in no particular more evidently than in the diminution of disease among the convicts.

“6. Religious instruction was one of the original remedies prescribed for the great moral disease, which the present penal system is calculated to cure. Divine service is generally performed every Sunday, in a large room appropriated solely for the purpose. Some clergyman or pious layman, volunteers his services, and dis. courses are delivered, suited to the situation and capacities of the audience. The prisoners in the cells are denied this indulgence ; good books are likewise distributed among them.

* Register of the United States for 1816, p. 14.

99,414, of which 2005 were artillery and cavalry. The governor is commander-in-chief. No standing army can be kept up in time of peace, without the consent of the legislature; and the military are in strict subordination to the civil power. In time of peace no soldier can be quartered in any house without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, except when required by law.

“ 7. Corporal punishments are strictly prohibited, whatever offence may have been committed. The keepers carry no weapons, not even a stick. The solitary cells and low diet have on all occasions been found amply sufficient to bring down the most determined spirit, to tame the most hardened villain that ever entered them. Of the truth of this there are striking cases on record. Some veterans in vice, with whom it was, necessary to be severe, have declared their preference of death by the gallows to a further continuance in that place of torment. In the cells, the construction of which renders conversation among those confined in them difficult, the miserable man is left to the greatest of all possible punishments, his own reflections. His food, which consists of only half a pound of bread per day, is given him in the morning; in the course of a few days or weeks, the very nature of the being is changed ; and there is no instance of any one having given occasion for the infliction of this punishment a second time. Such is the impression which the reports of its effects have left among the convicts, that the very dread of it is sufficient to prevent the frequent commission of those crimes for which it is the known pu. nishment, as swearing, impudence, rudeness, quarrelling, indo. lence repeated, or wilful injury to the tools, or to articles of manu


" There are fourteen inspectors, three of whom are elected by the select and common councils in joint meeting, in May and November; two by the commissioners of the Northern Liberties, and two by the commissioners of Southwark, at the same time.”



The military expenditure of the state, on account of the late war, was, in 1812, 32,700 dollars; 1813, 92,720 dollars ; 1814, 470,000 dollars.

Finances. The mode of assessment is as follows: “ Every third year, at the general election in Oc. tober, the people choose assessors, who, after having ascertained the value in ready money of all taxable property, return the names of two respectable citizens, freeholders of the district, to the county commis, sioners, by whom one is appointed collector. This officer informs the citizens of the rate of assessment, and day of appeal before the commissioners, after which the money is collected and paid into the hands of the city or county treasurer, appointed every three years by the county commissioners, whose compensa. tion is about one and a quarter per cent. on all monies received. The following are taxable articles ; lands, houses, mills, manufactories, ground rents, negro and mulatto slaves, cattle above four years old, offices of profit, trades and occupations, * tavern licences, free adults who follow no occupation. No tax can exceed one per cent. of the value of the property; and that for a single freeman, or particular occupation, is limited to the annual sum of ten dollars. +

* Ministers of the gospel and schoolmasters are excepted.

+ The provincial revenue was derived from the interest of their paper currency, let out by the loan office on land security, amounting to 5000 pounds a year; and, 2dly, From an excise on wine and rum, sold in public houses; the former at thirty shillings a pipe, the latter fourpence a gallon, amounting to about 3000 pounds currency.

« PreviousContinue »