In this Book

The Best Specimen of a Tyrant
summary
In 1847, young Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand left Vermont to seek his fortune in the West, but in Wisconsin his business ventures failed, and a medical practice among hard-up settlers added little to his pocketbook. During the Civil War he organized and ran one of the army’s biggest hospitals but resigned when dark rumors surfaced about him. Back home, he accepted with mixed feelings the one prestigious position available to him: superintendent of the state’s first hospital for the insane.
            Van Norstrand was a newcomer to the so-called “Hospital Movement,” perhaps the boldest public policy innovation of its time, one whose leaders believed that they could achieve what had long been regarded as impossible, to cure the insane. He was a driven man with scant sympathy for those he considered misfits or malingerers. Even so, early observers were impressed with his energetic, take-charge manner at the hospital. Here at last was a man who stood firm where his predecessors had weakened and foundered. But others began to detect a different side to this tireless ruler and adroit politician. It was said that he assaulted patients and served them tainted food purchased with state money from his own grocery store. Was he exploiting the weak for personal gain or making the best of a thankless situation? Out of this fog of suspicion emerged a moral crusader and—to all appearances—pristine do-gooder named Samuel Hastings, a man whose righteous fury, once aroused, proved equal to Van Norstrand’s own.
            The story of Abraham Van Norstrand’s rise and fall is also the story of the clash between the great expectations and hard choices that have bedeviled public mental hospitals from the beginning. 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. pp. 1-1
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Title Page, Copyright
  2. pp. iii-iv
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction
  2. pp. ix-xi
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Prologue: A Locked Room, a Battered Body
  2. pp. 1-17
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 1. “The Fortune I Desired and Expected”
  2. pp. 19-25
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 2. “I Soon Found My Hands Full”
  2. pp. 27-46
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 3. “My Blood Is Up”
  2. pp. 47-56
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 4. “The Best Specimen of a Tyrant”
  2. pp. 57-64
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 5. “A Severe Punishment of a Deluded and Spiteful People”
  2. pp. 65-75
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 6. “The Whole Camp Still as Death”
  2. pp. 77-87
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 7. “The First Negro Hospital”
  2. pp. 89-99
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 8. “The Wails of the Wounded”
  2. pp. 101-112
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 9. “Friends and Enemies” [Includes Image Plates]
  2. pp. 113-127
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 10. “A Second Class Man”
  2. pp. 129-144
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 11. “The Usual Little Jarrings in the Ward”
  2. pp. 145-162
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 12. “A Critical and Searching Examination”
  2. pp. 163-180
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 13. “Patients that Manifested a Dislike to Dr. Van Norstrand”
  2. pp. 181-206
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 14. “Little Short of Murderous Neglect”
  2. pp. 207-220
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 15. “Rotten Eggs”
  2. pp. 221-231
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 16. “A Solemn Court of Impeachment”
  2. pp. 233-244
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 17. “Abandon Hope”
  2. pp. 245-262
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 18. “A True Gentleman of the Old School”
  2. pp. 263-280
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Epilogue: “Three Percent Hastings”
  2. pp. 281-287
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. 289-290
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 291-316
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Bibliography
  2. pp. 317-326
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 327-331
  3. restricted access Download |
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.