FYI May 13, 2020

On This Day

1780 – The Cumberland Compact is signed by leaders of the settlers in the Cumberland River area of what would become the U.S. state of Tennessee, providing for democratic government and a formal system of justice.[2]
The Cumberland Compact was both based on the earlier Articles of the Watauga Association composed at present day Elizabethton, Tennessee and is a foundation document of the Tennessee State Constitution. Signed on May 13, 1780, by early settlers led to the Cumberland River area by James Robertson and John Donelson, where they settled Fort Nashborough, which would later become Nashville, Tennessee.

The only surviving copy the Cumberland Compact was discovered in 1846 inside a trunk that once belonged to Samuel Barton. The copy in Tennessee State Archives is slightly damaged. Other than this the document is intact and legible.

The Cumberland Compact was composed and signed by 256 colonists. One colonist, James Patrick of Virginia, was illiterate and marked his name with an “X”. This constitution called for a governing council of 12 judges who would be elected by the vote of free men 21 years of age or older. Unique to the times, the Compact included a clause that these judges could be removed from office by the people. Government salaries were to be paid in goods. Governors are paid 1,000 deer skins, secretaries are paid 450 otter skins, county clerks are paid 500 raccoon skins, and the constables are paid one mink skin for every warrant served. All males sixteen or older were subject to militia duty.

The compact did establish a contract and relationship between the settlers of the Cumberland region and limited the punishment that could be meted out by the judicial system. Serious capital crimes were to be settled by transporting the offending party to a location under the direct jurisdiction of the State of North Carolina for a proper trial. The compact remained in effect until Tennessee became a state.

Frontier law was brutal and effective. In 1788, at the first court session in Nashville Andrew Jackson was granted permission to practice law. He was immediately handed the job of prosecuting attorney. In 1793, Judge John McNairy sentenced Nashville’s first horse thief, John McKain, Jr., to be fastened to a wooden stock one hour for 39 lashes, his ears cut off and cheeks branded with the letter “H” and “T”. The first female convicted of stealing soap and thread was stripped to the waist and publicly whipped nine lashes. By 1800, the first divorce was granted between May and Nathaniel Parker. Henry Baker became the first capital punishment case in Davidson County with the first death sentence of “hanged by the neck until he is dead” for stealing a horse. These records survive in a heavy leather bound book in the care of the circuit court clerk.



Born On This Day

1887 – Lorna Hodgkinson, Australian educator and educational psychologist (d. 1951)

Lorna Myrtle Hodgkinson (13 May 1887 – 24 March 1951) was an Australian educator and educational psychologist who worked with intellectually disabled children. She was the first woman to receive a Doctor of Education degree from Harvard University. She called out the poor system in Australia and her reputation was ruined by the minister responsible.

Early life
Hodgkinson was born on 13 May 1887 in South Yarra, a suburb of Melbourne, to Ada Josephine (née Edmiston) and Albert James Hodgkinson, a sugar planter.[1] The family later moved to Lennox Head, New South Wales,[2] and after her father’s death, Lorna and her mother moved again to Perth. After studying at the Perth Girls’ School, she began working as a student teacher in 1903.[1]

Hodgkinson became an assistant at the Perth Infants’ School in 1907 and started a class for children with intellectual disabilities. She left Perth in 1912 to move to Sydney, where she taught at various public schools until 1915. In 1917 she began working at May Villa in Parramatta, teaching intellectually disabled girls who were wards of the state. She was granted paid leave in 1920 to study at Harvard University; she received a Master of Education degree in 1921 and her Doctorate of Education in 1922.[1][3] With her doctoral thesis, “A State Program for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Atypical Children in Public School Systems”,[1] she became the first woman to receive the degree of Doctor of Education from Harvard.[4]

When Hodgkinson returned from Harvard to Sydney in 1922, she took up a position created for her by the NSW Department of Education: Superintendent of the Education of Mental Defectives.[4] In 1923 she testified before the Royal Commission on Lunacy Law and Administration that the system for caring for intellectually disabled children was mismanaged; her comments sparked protests from the public and a ministerial inquiry was ordered by minister Albert Bruntnell. Hodgkinson was accused of falsifying her educational record in order to gain admission to Harvard, and after the inquiry found against her on all accounts, she was suspended for “disgraceful and improper conduct in making false statements and pretences”. She was demoted to normal public teaching in 1924, but she refused to take up her new position and was dismissed. The dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education later wrote a statement to confirm her abilities and achievements.[1]

After being publicly humiliated, Hodgkinson left the public education system and founded the Sunshine Institute, a residential school for intellectually disabled children, in the Sydney suburb of Gore Hill. She worked there for the rest of her career, building the school up from six to sixty pupils.[1][2] She gave lectures on “mental hygiene” on the radio, wrote for The Sydney Morning Herald, and addressed the Women’s Reform League and the Australian Racial Hygiene Congress.[1]

Hodgkinson died of cancer at Gore Hill on 24 March 1951. The Sunshine Institute was later renamed the Lorna Hodgkinson Sunshine Home,[1] and is still in operation as Sunshine.[5]


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