To the Honorable Legislature of the State of California:


GENTLEMEN:  In the month of May last, the Sacramento Society for Medical Improvement, moved solely by a sense of duty to the public, and a desire to subserve the ends of science and of humanity, addressed to the Honorable Board of Supervisors of this County the following communication, hoping thereby to accomplish the object aimed at, as set forth in the body of the article:


SACRAMENTO, May 5th, 1869.


To the Honorable the Board of Supervisors of Sacramento County:


GENTLEMEN:  We, the undersigned, members of the Sacramento Medical Society, have learned that your honorable body propose soon to locate and have constructed a suitable building for the accommodation and treatment of the indigent sick of the county, and being induced to presume that, in virtue of our professional familiarity with subjects pertaining to the movement contemplated, we may safely venture without seeming impertinent or officious, to make to you some suggestions in reference thereto, we beg leave respectfully to submit our views on the subject, for such consideration as you may be inclined to give them. We are aware that you have recently purchased a piece of land some two or three miles from the city, with the view of establishing thereon a Poor-house and Hospital, where the sick may be treated and the infirm supported; the idea of being entertained that the work of the considerable number may be so profitably employed that the institution made in a short time become, in a large measure, self-supporting.  The motive in this design is commendable; but we are satisfied that, in practice, and the plan would be erroneous and impracticable, for the reason that a large majority of those admitted are fit subjects for a hospital only, where they may be treated and then discharged as soon as able to work, to return to their respective avocations.  The few, comparatively, who are fitter subjects for an almshouse, who would remain for any considerable length of time, and from whom only work could be expected, are generally afflicted with impared vision, or are so infirm, from age or paralysis, as to be incapacitated for labor.  As much as can be reasonably expected from the entire number of inmates is sufficient assistance to the employees to keep the premises in a cleanly condition and cultivated vegetable garden large enough to supply from its products the want of the house.  This is the unanimous and decided opinion of the three members of our society who have had charge of the present hospital from its founding, in January, eighteen hundred and fifty-six, with the exception of the few months, to the present time-- their opinion and being based upon their actual observations and experience.  We are constrained, therefore, to believe that the plan contemplated, for the reasons stated, is not feasible.  Besides, a hospital situated on any one of the county roads would not accommodate the country, generally, so well as one in the city, where the roads all centre.  And, as a matter of economy, we are satisfied that a city location is decidedly preferable, the difference in the item of transportation in wagons or carriages, in favor of the shorter distance, being alone sufficient to lessen materially the aggregate expense.  But we propose to base our objections to the plan and site contemplated by you, and our preference for another, upon higher grounds--the welfare of the unfortunates whose circumstances may compel them to except the benefits of a public charity.  To fill or accomplish this object, we suggest that a hospital, suited to the present and future wants of the county, be located within the city limits, on some one of the several elevated points near its eastern border, any one of which would be sufficiently accessible, and at the same time so situated as to admit of thorough drainage--a thing of the highest importance to the health and success of such an establishment.  We maintain that the institution should be of easy access to the sick and injured, to lessen, as far as practicable, the pain and other injurious effects attending removal; and as the majority of the cases admitted arise in the city, particularly those resulting from violence or accident, the argument in favor of the site proposed, is rendered the stronger.  But the location should be accessible to the public likewise, many of whom desire, from time to time, from one motive or another, to visit the place or the sick there confined; and still more important is it that it should be so to the regular medical attendant, who must be more or less in the city, as well as to other practitioners, whose gratuitous services may often be required in cases of unusual interest and importance, demanding consultation and assistance.  The location selected by your honorable body, although not suitable, in our opinion, for a hospital, may be available years hence for a poor-house, or for other similar purpose; or it may be disposed of, at your discretion, and the proceeds employed in the purchase of another site.


This paper was received, read and placed on file, but no heed given to its suggestions.  Been aware that steps are being taken to carry out the original design of the Board of Supervisors, alluded to in the communication just quoted, and deeming its consummation a thing to be deplored, we are constrained to appeal to you, as the immediate representatives of the people, to procure such legislative action as may be necessary to compass the purpose sought by us, without avail, in another quarter.  Before proceeding further, we will state that, in addition to the reasons already advanced against a country, and in favor of the city location, there are others of a cogent nature suggested to our minds.  One is, that a large number of indigent sick who now, and may hereafter, for themselves and their families, obtained treatment and medicines gratuitously, as out-door patients, at the Dispensary connected with a hospital, would be deprived of the benefits of that arrangement if a hospital were distance; and that circumstance would necessitate the establishment of a City Dispensary, and the employment of a qualified apothecary, at considerable cost, or impose a very large additional burden on the Howard Association, whose fund even now is taxed quite sufficiently.  Another reason is, that the County Physician could not, as now, attended the sick at the City and County Prisons, and furnish them medicines, as part of his duty, were he at a distance in the country; nor could he, for the same reason, performed promptly, if it all, the numerous post-mortem examinations required by the Coroner, thus rendering it incumbent upon the public authorities to provide for such duties or exigencies at still further extra expense.


Other reasons might be offered in support of our position, but we will not lengthen this paper by stating them.  We would respectfully suggest, in conclusion, that while providing by legislation a fund to build and furnish a suitable hospital to meet the present or future wants of the city and county-- both rapidly increasing in population and importance--you, at the same time, appoint a Commission of Physicians and other citizens, to select a site for the building within the city limits, and provide for the condemnation and appraisement of the ground for public uses, thereby sweeping away all difficulty to title or an exorbitant price for the property required.  We would also suggest that the same Commission be authorized, after advertising for plans and speculations, to adopt, at your discretion, such plan as they may deem this suited to our needs, embracing all the modern and most approved features in the design and architecture of general hospitals, the entire cost not to exceed a prescribed to limit.




Thomas M. Logan, M.D.

Jos.  F. Montgomery, M.D.

G. J. Phelan, M.D.

G. L. Simmons, M.D.

Edward R. Taylor, M.D.

Joseph M. Frey, M.D.

Ira Oatman, M.D.

F. W. Hatch, M.D.

Gerard Geo. Tyrrell, M.D.

S. P. Thomas, M.D.

W. R. Cluness, M.D.

H. L. Nichols, M.D.

W. H.Wythe, M.D.

S. W. Blackwood, M.D.

A.  Trafton, M.D.

C. S. Haswell, M.D.




We, the undersigned, citizens and taxpayers of the City and County of Sacramento, agreeing in the views expressed in the foregoing papers, cordially unite in the petition for such legislative and other action, as may be necessary to carry them out practically.


Robt.  C. Clark

John W. Reeves

O. Scudder

Jerome Madden

John McClintock

B. F. Connolly

W. D. Michener

William H. Harron

Johnie Harlor

J.P. Lowell

A. C. Sweetser

B. K. Alsip

And many others.


Source: Appendix to Journals of Senate and Assembly, of the Eighteeth Session of the Legislature of the State of California, Volume III, Sacramento, 1870.


Submitted by: Nancy Pratt Melton.