The families assisted as outdoor poor are stated by the commissioners to be composed chiefly of Irish immigrants, as are also the vagrants sent to the Bridewell and peniten tiary. " In fact, we are literally overrun with this descrip tion of paupers." The following sentiments from the pen of S. Allen, Esq., at that time mayor of New York, are enlightening as to the prevailing views on the causes of pauperism. The reader should not fail to notice the easy transition from one cause to another when a practical remedy is to be suggested.
" Idleness and a total inattention to frugality are among the principal sources of pauperism. There is a natural propensity in men to inaction, and therefore it is that so many of those who are compelled to depend upon their own exertions for subsistence become paupers. Every man, however, has a principle within himself which, if not destroyed by mental or vicious causes, urges him to the full exertion of his faculties for the prevention of this catas trophe. A definition of this principle may be given in two sentences, to wit, the desire for fame and independence, and the conscious feeling of shame and fear of want. . . .
" These evils may, in a measure, be remedied and a gradual decrease of pauperism (produced by the inordi nate use of spirituous liquors) effected. The article ought to be rendered more inaccessible to consumers by an in crease in its price. . . . In addition to this no able-bodied person ought to be permitted to receive the public bounty by the way of alms, and in all cases where it is practicable the building of poorhouses ought to be discouraged." The Society for the Suppression of Pauperism, in its annual reports for the years from 1818 to 1824, as might be expected, strikes somewhat deeper ground, and lays down a programme of reform and educational improvement such as was scarcely to be surpassed later by the associa tions for improving the condition of the poor and the charity organization societies.
The causes of pauperism are .enumerated as follows : — I. Ignorance.
III. Intemperance and drinking.
IV. The want of economy.
V. Imprudent and hasty marriages.
VIII. Houses of ill fame.Viii. Houses of ill fame.
IX. Gambling-houses; and X. The numerous charitable institutions of the city.
Some of the remedies suggested are : to divide the city into small districts, each district to have two or three visitors to visit the indigent, etc.; to establish savings banks, bene fit societies, life insurances, etc.; to refuse support to paupers who have not gained a settlement ; to procure an entire prohibition of street begging ; to aid in giving em ployment to those who cannot procure it, by establishing houses of employment, or by supplying materials for domestic labor ; to open places of public worship in the outer wards ; to promote Sunday-schools ; to devise a plan by which all spontaneous charities may flow into one chan nel ; to procure the abolition of the great number of shops in which spirituous liquors are sold by license.
" The managers recommend the practice of abstaining from giving money to beggars who usually appropriate what they get to increase the profits and the business of the dram In its very first report, that for the year 1818, there is an even more positive enunciation of the modern idea.
" Let the moral sense be awakened and the moral influ ence be established in the minds of the improvident, the unfortunate, and the depraved. Let them be approached with kindness and an ingenuous concern for their welfare ; inspire them with self-respect and encourage their industry and economy ; in short, enlighten their minds and teach them to take care of themselves. Those are the methods of doing them real and permanent good and relieving the community from the pecuniary exactions, the multiplied exactions and threatening dangers of which they are the authors." 2 Fourth Annual Report, 1821.
2 First Annual Report of the Society for the Prevention of Pauperism in the city of New York, 1818.
The managers of this society do not hesitate to arraign unwise philanthropy even more explicitly than by includ ing the charitable institutions among the causes of pauper ism. They ascribe the evil of its increase " to the same cause, in this city as in England, viz., to the provision made for the relief and maintenance of the poor. Pauper ism has increased among us in a ratio as great as was ever witnessed in this country. The alternative proposed may appear extravagant, but it is believed that genuine human ity and benevolence to the poor themselves would dictate the abolition of our pauper system. . . . In this city it is extremely rare to find an industrious and virtuous person wanting the necessaries or comforts of life." Both in Massachusetts and in New York good results followed the agitation of which the Quincy and the Yates reports are respectively the most conspicuous symptoms. Greater discrimination came to be practised and a rela tively larger part of the public relief was provided in county or local institutions which were more under the public scrutiny. The abundance of free land in Western territories and the opportunities for employment for all able-bodied persons continued to relieve any real pressure of population, and accordingly there was little temptation to public officials to make easy the way to a life of de pendence upon the public bounty.