POOR LAWS (ante), in the United States, are of local enactment. In some cases general laws have been passed by the state, but the town authorities usually adopt regu lations for the care of the poor. The increase in pauperism in the years of business depression following the inflation period has led several states to pass what are known as "tramp-laws," defining more or less definitely the class of paupers generally called tramps, and making it a criminal offense for them to wander through the state without "'visible means of support." The punishment for this offense in Connecticut is a year's imprisonment. Laws of this kind have met with criticism, both on the ground of unconstitutionality, and as harsh and oppressive. They have been generallyadminis tered with moderation and discrimination, and have without doubt been beneficial. In small towns the care of the poor is the duty of the board of selectmen. In some the bar barous custom of farming out the town poor to the lowest bidder still exists. As that
town is required to support a pauper in which he has a legal settlement, and as the laws. as to what constitutes such a settlement differ widely in the various states, legal ques tions are constantly arising. It would be impossible to give here even a summary of the legislation as regards settlement. As a rule, married women follow the settlement. of their husbands; legitimate children that of the father, or, if he have none; of the mother: and illegitimate children, of the mother. Settlement may be acquired in some states by residence for a certain time; others require residence and payment of taxes, or ownership of property to a fixed amount. The longest period of residence required is five years, in Maine, and the shortest 30 days, in Nebraska. Apprenticeship, followed. by residence for one or more years, in most cases gives a settlement.