The Georgia Infirmary was the first hospital for African Americans built in the United States. Chartered on December 24, 1832 “for the relief and protection of aged and afflicted Africans,” it was established by the Georgia General Assembly and funded by a $10,000 grant from the estate of Thomas F. Williams, a local merchant and minister. Today the institution is known as the Adult Day Center-Georgia Infirmary and is part of St. Joseph’s/Candler healthcare network.
Mistreatment and poor living and working conditions often left slaves in prematurely bad health, and many were cast out by their owners when they were no longer able to work. Williams’ grant, as well as proposals for the state of Georgia to take on the care of old and unwell slaves while recouping the cost from slave holders, contributed to the impetus for the creation of the hospital. The Infirmary was built 10 miles south of Savannah, Georgia, on a 50-acre parcel of land donated by Richard F. Williams, the brother and executor of Thomas F. Williams’ estate. Richard F. Williams was elected as the first president of the hospital’s board of trustees. Upon the infirmary’s opening, the state government provided $20 per patient a year.
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