Auction of the entire number of paupers to the lowest bidder, while it partakes of the character of the preced ing system, is less expensive and has the merit that it is " an approximation of the method of supporting them in a poorhouse." In Massachusetts and in other states this method of caring for the poor actually led in many towns and counties to the establishment of houses of industry.
As to the provision by outdoor relief given in the homes of the poor, the committee declares that the evidence from the towns of the commonwealth coincides with the general experience of England in condemning this system, both on the ground of expense and on the ground of its effect upon the character of the poor. Upon the whole the committee reached the five following conclusions : I. That of all modes of providing for the poor, the most wasteful, the most expensive, and most injurious to their morals and destructive to their industrious habits is that of supply in their own families.
II. That the most economical mode is that of almshouses having the character of workhouses or houses of industry, in which work is provided for every degree of ability in the pauper, and thus the able poor made to provide, par tially at least, for their own support, and also the support or, at least, the comfort of the impotent poor.
III. That of all modes of employing the labor of the pauper, agriculture affords the best, the most healthy, and the most certainly profitable ; the poor being thus enabled to raise always at least their own provisions.
IV. That the success of these establishments depends upon their being placed under the superintendence of a board of overseers, constituted of the most substantial and intelligent inhabitants of the vicinity.
V. That of all causes of pauperism, intemperance in the use of spirituous liquors is the most powerful and uni versal.
The committee did not recommend immediate legisla tion, but suggested that the results of its investigation be communicated to the several towns and that steps should be taken looking forward to the eventual placing of the whole subject of poor relief in the commonwealth under the reg ular and annual superintendence of the legislature.
The Yates report was more exhaustive and has far more historical value, since it contains not merely the facts regarding almshouse and outdoor relief in the counties, and to a large extent even in the towns of the state of New York, but also a considerable amount of information regarding the relief systems of other states.
The first part of the report exhibits the number of pan pers in the several cities, towns, and counties in this state; the sums of money expended for their maintenance ; the sums expended for the costs and fees of justices, overseers of the poor, and constables, in the examination and removal of paupers, and in other incidental services ; the number of paupers removed; the ratio of paupers in each county; the ratio of taxation imposed upon each county for the maintenance and relief of the poor ; the amount of taxes raised for that purpose in the several counties for the pre ceding six years ; and extracts of letters from mayors of cities, supervisors and clerks of counties, overseers of the poor of towns, and from other sources entitled' to credit, showing the management, general success and effect of the various local experiments in the state for the support of the poor, either by towns or in poorhouses.
The second part exhibits a digest of the poor laws of most of the states of the Union with extracts from official letters and documents showing the operation and effect of those laws, together with a view of the state of pauperism in Europe, and brief extracts from works of American and European writers, illustrative of the evils of pauperism and suggesting plans for their amelioration and removal. The report distinguishes two classes: the permanent poor, or those who are regularly supported during the whole year at the public expense ; and the occasional, or tem porary poor, or those who receive occasional relief during a part of the year, chiefly in the autumn and winter.
In the first class at the time of the report there were in New York State 6896; in the second class, 15,215. Of the permanent paupers there were 446 idiots and lunatics ; 287 blind ; 928 aged and infirm ; 797 lame or in a confirmed state of ill health and totally incapacitated. There were 2604 children under fourteen years of age, and 1789 pau pers of both sexes, all of whom, though not in the vigor of life, may yet be considered capable of earning their exist ence if proper labor were assigned, and suitable means to induce them to perform it, and whose labor might produce at least $150,000 annually.