In 1902, the year Canton Asylum opened, the U.S. was transitioning from raw frontier to settled country. Teddy Roosevelt became the first president to ride in an automobile; J.C. Penny’s opened; and air-conditioning brought relief to sweating workers.
Calamity Jane was still alive, and readers enjoyed a new Sherlock Holmes mystery, The Hound of the Baskervilles, as it was serialized in England’s The Strand magazine.
However, women still couldn’t vote; the Wright brothers had yet to make their first sustained flight; and conveniences like tea bags, zippers, and windshield wipers were years away.
Though the Statue of Liberty had been dedicated in 1886 and poet Emma Lazarus had begged the world to send America its “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” America was in reality a land controlled by white people rooted in an Anglo-Saxon culture. That cultural background decided what constituted “normal” behavior. The beliefs and behaviors of other peoples or cultures were “inferior” and needed to be upgraded to the white standard. Indians, many who were in power agreed, were inferior.
Read Lazarus’ entire poem