Header img
Beyond Penn's Treaty

The Life of Thomas Eddy; Comprising an Extensive Correspondence

Page out of 347

their pristine course, but he, after two years service,
ceased to act in the cause.

Soon after the state prison was built in the city of

, Mr. Eddy began to think that if he had
not committed an error in his plan, it certainly was
susceptible of improvement. He found, from careful
observation, that several confined in a cell corrupted
each other, for each one told to his companions his
career of vice, and all joined by sympathetic villany
to keep each other in countenance. This, to the eye
of the shrewd philanthropist was not long conceal-
ed ; and like a man of moral intrepidity, he avowed
his error and condemned it. There can be no doubt
but this single-cell plan now in use, was conceived
and made known to the public by Mr. Eddy, before
it was thought of either in this country, or in Europe,
by any other person. In March, 1802, he visited Al-
, solely for the purpose of prevailing upon the
Legislature to pass a bill for erecting a prison in the
city and county of New-York, and by degrees to ex-
tend the plan to other districts in the state, which
prison was to contain solitary cells. These prisons
were to be used for all those who had committed
minor crimes, and no one was to be sent to the state
prison for a less term than three years. Into the
solitary cells in these, the prisoner was to be confined
according to his crime. So situated, he would have
time to reflect upon his past conduct, and to begin
the work of reformation. A bill was passed for this
purpose, but by making it optional with the city
and county, instead of being imperative, the plan
was not carried into effect, notwithstanding every
exertion of Mr. Eddy and his friends, in urging it
upon the corporation. One committee after another
took it into consideration, and seemed highly pleased
with the plan, being convinced that it would be a
means of preventing crime, yet they did not comply
with the requisition. Mr. Eddy was not to be dis-
couraged by the failure. He mentioned his plan in