Pauline Maier Early American History Seminar “We all agree to exclude...those of unsound mind”: Disability, Doctors, and the Law in the Early Republic 6 February 2018.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 7:30PM Laurel Daen, MHS-NEH Fellow Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

Between 1790 and 1840, Americans deemed to be cognitively disabled lost the right to vote, marry, immigrate, obtain residency, and live independently. This paper charts these legal developments in Massachusetts as well as how disabled people used the courts to negotiate these constraints. Despite some successes, contesting incapacity became increasingly difficult towards the mid-nineteenth century when physicians became regular and trusted expert witnesses in court.

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