5 Institutional Care Trattner 4

Trend toward Indoor Relief
1800 to Civil War
The Mood of the Nation
Time of movement and growth
Industrialization in northeast (largely
Explosion of wealth in south (cotton)
Westward migration, population expansion
and addition of new states
Canals and railways fostered commerce
Voting extended to all free adult white
Age of common man –Jacksonian
democracy began in 1828
Social issues & reformers – concern for
deaf and blind, mentally ill
Immigration, prohibition and antiCatholicism
German and Irish immigrants
Catholics grew from 300,000 to 3 million
from 1830-1860
Irish destitute and threat to standard of
living – would work for any wage
Concerns about blacks, especially free
blacks in the south -- colonization
Trattner’s View of Mood
Growing view that poor responsible for
their own condition
Land/resources plentiful – personal
weakness cause of poverty
All poor viewed with contempt, even
Poor, Catholic immigrants added to
Moral Crusade Seen as Solution
to Social Problems
Catholics seen as uncivilized with the evil
habit of drink
Other problems thought to be caused by
moral defects – crime, insanity, gambling,
prostitution, vagrancy
Recessions, discrimination, lack of social
institutions not seen as leading to social
Limiting availability of strong drink will
solve social problems
1833 there were 6,000 American
Temperance Society chapters
Tax heavily, restrict sales, or prohibit sales
were major goals
Opposed by immigrant groups and many
middle class and working class Americans
Anti-pauperism Strategies
Self-sufficiency possible if one worked hard and
was moral
Thus poverty was linked to idleness and/or
immorality or laws removed incentive to work
Best way to deter poverty was through getting
rid of outdoor relief
Poorhouses would be efficient and provide a
way to change the poor
Concern about Outdoor Aid
Belief that poor laws removed incentive to
Belief that public assistance should be
eliminated in favor of private charity only
Deemed impossible, but for cost savings
and efficiency, move to institutional care
Yates Report
New York State survey research on poor
relief 1824 recommendations
No public help for able bodied 18-50
Institutional help for old, young, and
County become administrative unit
Became predominant way to help poor
Under county administration, usually
housed a conglomerate of unfortunates
Old, young, sick, well, sane, insane,
retarded, alcoholic, delinquent, criminal
For most (except old) these were short
term refuges during crisis and economic
Almshouse in Maryland
Almshouse in Lancaster, PA
Emergence of Specialized Care
Reformers deplored mixing of populations
Reformatories for juvenile delinquents
State orphanages for dependent children
Institutions for mentally ill, mentally
retarded, deaf and blind emerged
Quest for Federal Help
1818 Revolutionary War
Pension Act
Some disaster aid
Public land given for
asylums for “deaf and
Dorothea Dix sought
Federal land for states to
build “insane asylums”
1854 Congress passed,
and Pierce vetoed
“I cannot find any
authority in the
Constitution for making
the Federal Government
the great almoner of
public charity throughout
the United States.”
With few exceptions
(native Americans, freed
slaves) federal
government stayed out of
social welfare for many
Private aid
Help the poor by improving their character
Poor needed religion, morality, sobriety
and industry
1843 New York Association for Improving
the Conditions of the Poor
Middle class male volunteers, probably
feared/hated the poor and wanted to
transform them to middle class values
Change in Attitude
Encountered wretched living conditions in
Found slum life to be an obstacle to
Realized poor wages and unemployment
were real problems
Found jobs and gave aid
Built “model tenements”
Tried to clean slums and establish public
health measures
Finally argued that moral improvement
depended on improving economic
Wanted well planned relief
Precursor to Charity Organization Societies
Social Control?
Did reformers “help” the poor as a way to
control them and protect middle class,
capitalist interests?
Did philanthropists act to show off their
exalted position in society?
Or did they help for spiritual reasons, out
of civic duty, cultural nationalism or true
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