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ITS NATURAL AND EXTRAORDINARY CAUSES; ITS CONNECTION WITH
THE FAMINE IN IRELAND, AND SCARCITY IN OTHER COUNTRIES.
The Irish famine of 1846–7 will stand upon the master. But he had neither the out upon the page of history as one of the strength to sustain this, nor the courage most striking events of modern times. It to direct the energies of his dependents. will be recorded, not merely as a calamity There were noble exceptions; yet such which has swept away a vast multitude of was the general condition, and such the human beings, but equally as a providen- two classes of mind. When the news of tial crisis in the history of this nation, this their deplorable and melancholy conwhich revealed more fully than ever be- dition had gone forth, the sympathies of fore, the accumulated evils of centuries of the whole human family in every quarter misgovernment. For it was not created of the globe were excited to a degree unsimply by the sudden destruction of a large paralleled in the history of the world. portion of the nation's subsistence; it was No famine in the history of mankind can that almost hopeless and depressed social be compared to it, unless it be the seven condition of the people, that at once par- years' famine of Egypt. To this it bears alyzed the national energy, when this en a striking analogy, in the magnitude of ergy was to be directed into new channels the calamity, in the corresponding social as the only alternative against general star-condition of those who, in Egypt, were vation. There was then no self-reliance ; most exposed to suffering, and in the rehence no moral courage. There was hope, lations of the sufferers to the soil of the but it was hope which trembled over a country. wide-spread, increasing panic, and rested The first year in Egypt consumed their only on the arm of the national treasury. lands, their gold and silver. During the There was submission, but it was that of second, the unhappy Egyptians sold not despair. There was unexampled patience only their lands, but themselves, as the and endurance, but these gave no creative price of food. The lands of the priests energy to the people; they produced no excepted, Joseph purchased for the enlightened forecast. The subjects of that crown the whole lands of lower Egypt. famine were those, and those chiefly, whose After the custom of the East, he allotted minds had been used to the severest laws it into estates, supplied the seed for its of servitude, and therefore dependence tillage, and demanded one-fifth of the upon and direction by higher orders of intel-crop as rent, to be paid into the royal ligence had become the unchangeable con treasury. It was held by what is now dition of their being. This was their birth- called the Ryot tenure in Asia. It was right-not the gift of Heaven, but entailed by this process that the whole people of upon them by their masters through suc the Delta were brought into a state of cessive generations. And when by this legal slavery. We find here a kindred signal providence, the possessions of every i land tenure, a social condition not dissimiclass became insecure, and the laws of lar, and, if not in the duration, in their intribute and servitude inoperative, there tensity, a correspondence in the two calamwas to be found no method by which the ities. soil could, at once, be made chargeable In the last November issue of this Jourwith its tenants. They had no power to nal, we discussed the permanently existing fulfil legal obligation, while the burden of causes of foreign immigration. They were, a higher and moral one, by reason of this the constantly depressed condition of the inability, now rested with fearful force poorer classes in Europe, the easy land
tenure of America, and the extent and fer or in the most distant isles of the sea, tility of this land : two classes of influ- from thence, with almost the velocity of ence—the one foreign, the other domestic. electric fire, the currents of sympathy and The power
of the first was in heaven-born charity were seen flowing the history of the poor laws of England, forth and meeting in a mighty swelling and in the unequal burden and injustice of tide over that land of suffering and death : her local taxes; that of the second in the
he a silent but irresistible argument, above all extent and richness of the great central logic, for the power and diffusiveness of valley of America—the Mississippi, and Christian love. It is an argument that in the legal protection and encouragement proclaims the greatest truth of that lovegiven to settlers upon all the public do a common brotherhood among all nations main of the country. In the December of men, having the same paternity and number we gave a succinct history of the hoping the same heaven as a final home. Irish famine, as the leading extraordinary The accidents of life and the forms of cause of increase in immigration. Wede- misery, in a great commercial city like New tailed the action of Parliament, enumerat- York, are numerous and diversified. In ing and explaining its score of Acts bear- no city probably in the world is there a. ing on Ireland, from the incipient mea demand for more munificent public charisures of the Executive government at the ties. For here the nations of the world close of 1815 to the passage of the noted meet; it is the great entrance-door into Poor Law, in the summer of 1847. We the western hemisphere for all classes and gave, also, an outline of the voluntary conditions of men, whether in quest of charitable measures of Europe and Amer- fortune, of pleasure, or health. A full hisica, and of the methods by which these tory of the charities of New York, would contributions were applied, following those extend our article to undue limits. They who became the almoners of the charity, rank among the most beneficent and well not only of these but of all nations, in their endowed charitable institutions in America. errand of mercy, through the suffering The following are some of the most imand sterile regions of that hapless country. portant. In this, we had evidence of a foreign THE NEW YORK HOSPITAL was chartered cause of immigration, strong enough to by the Earl of Dunmore in 1771. For bring that entire people to our shores. In twenty years it was allowed $4000 annuour present writing, we consider chiefly ally by the provincial legislature. It rethe home evidence of that pressure. It is ceived patients in 1791. In 1806 the State to be found in the increasing and urgent granted an annuity of $12,500 out of duties demands upon our almshouse and the vol- and sales at auction. Its officers are untary charities of our city. Both the spirit twenty-six governors, four physicians and and the manner in which these have been six surgeons, with one physician and two met, as well as the unequalled and sublime surgeons resident. The poor are received example of charity to a famishing nation, gratis, and all others at a price agreed on is the highest, the most signal evidence by the visiting committee. which could be given in the history of THE BLOOMINGDALE Asylum is the inhuman affairs, of the diffusive and heavenly sane department of the Hospital. It was nature of that system of truth which opened in 1808, the first in the United enjoins in the most touching manner the States, and has fifty acres of land, and cost love of our neighbor as the love of self. $180,000. Its government is under a It was not that thousands were falling by standing committee of the board of govpestilence and disease from ordinary crnors, who visit weekly and direct all its causes, but that they were dying from the affairs. want of that common bounty, which, like THE NEW YORK DISPENSARY was estabthe light and atmosphere of heaven, a lished in 1790, to relieve sick and indigent Common Parent had caused to abound by persons unable to procure medical aid. It spontaneous growth and through the chan- has cleven attending physicians and an nels of trade over the whole habitable office open daily, and under the charge of globe. Wherever the news had spread an apothecary, for the reception of apamong the nations of Europe, in America, | plicants. Twenty-two thousand patients
were attended in 1841–2 in the city proper, read and write. It has a school and library which is divided into three districts. Be attached. sides this there are the northern and east PROTESTANT HALF ORPHAN Asylum, esern dispensaries, which together attended tablished in 1835; its object is to receive in the same year upwards of 27,000 pa such children as are left destitute by the tients. Of these 65 per cent. were foreigners. death of one parent and by the inability of These institutions receive a small amount the other to support them. They are of legislative aid, and are supported chiefly trained to habits of order and cleanliness, by subscription and donations.
and receive the rudiments of a good comTHE SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF OF POOR mon education. The trustees become the WIDOWS WITH SMALL CHILDREN, organized legal guardians of the children, and have in 1798, for nearly a half century has power to bind them out at discretion. More been sustained chiefly by the contributions than 1000 have been instructed. of benevolent females. The female thrown Besides these, there are many societies upon her own resources, with helpless chil whose organization and labors we cannot dren to support by her daily labor, is the specify. THE LADIES' DEPOSITORY ; LADIES' object of aid. The city is divided into twenty SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING INDUSTRY AMONG six districts and a managerappointed to each. THE POOR; HOWARD SEWING SOCIETY FOR This manager inserts in a book the name, PROMOTING INDUSTRY ; NEW YORK Clothresidence and circumstances of every per
ING SOCIETY ; SOCIETY OF MECHANICS AND son relieved, and the age of her children. TRADESMEN OF New York; FIRE DEPARTNo one is assisted until inquiry is made MENT FUNDS; NEW ENGLAND SOCIETY ; Sr. and the character known. Immorality NICHOLAS SOCIETY ; ST. GEORGE's Soand street begging, when once the party CIETY ; St. ANDREW's SOCIETY ; Sr. David's has been cautioned, exclude from the fa SOCIETY ; FRENCH BENEVOLENT SOCIETY ; vors of the Society. In 1841, 404 widows GERMAN BENEVOLENT SOCIETY; SOCIETY and more than 1000 children were aided. FOR RELIEF OF WORTHY AND INDIGENT
ASSOCIATION FOR THE RELIEF OF RESPEC COLORED PERSONS ; INDEPENDENT ORDER TABLE INDIGENT FEMALES, was founded in OF ODD FELLOWS, of which there are 70 1814, and is directed by a board of twenty lodges in New York city, and 12,000 contwo managers. Any respectable indigent tributing members. The principle of aid female over 60 years of age, who by her in these lodges, unlike that of most other friends pays $50 into the treasury, is entitled charitable institutions, limits all charity to to the bounty of the society, and a home members of the institution. Their sick in the Asylum during the evening of her and poor are visited, and in time of days. The home was erected at a cost of need each member can honorably claim $20,000, and has nearly or about 60 in aid from funds which he has contributed mates.
to raise, without the humiliation of private ASSISTANCE SOCIETY FOR THE RELIEF charity. Such are the regulations, that AND RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION OF THE Sick every member, whatever his circumstances, Poor, organized in 1813. It is under the in sickness or death, must receive a fixed direction of as many managers as there and definite amount. The duty of this asare wards in the city, each ward being as sociation does not terminate with life ; it is signed to a manager. During the year extended to the remains of the departed 1841 it relieved more than 1000 families, brother; it requires members to attend, if and its auxiliary, the Dorcas Society, dis- need be, the last solemn offices of the dead, tributed 1450 garments. It expends nearly whether the departed may have deceased $4000 per annum.
amid the kindred of home or among stranOrphan ASYLUM OF NEW YORK, founded gers. No person can become a member, in 1806. It is pleasantly located five except between the ages of 21 and 50 years. miles from the centre of the city, and is The initiation fee is $5 to $30, and the
payunder the direction of eleven trustees. Or- ment annually thereafter $4 to $10. On phans, natives or foreigners of all nations, the decease of every member, $30 are allowed are received at the age of ten or under, as a funeral benefit; and for the wife of a and indentured at thirteen. None are per- member, $15. For the year ending June mitted to leave without knowing how to | 30th, 1842, the amount of aid extended in VOL. I. NO. IV. NEW SERIES.
31 lodges, then existing in New York, was true. There has, of late years, been an $18,241 25; in 1847, in 70 lodges, about actual deterioration of character and a pro$40,000. This is certainly a noble sys- gressive increase of pauperism and vagrancy tem of charity ; it is, in fact, irrespective of above the ratio and increase of the popuits orders and insignia, a most valuable lation. This is shown by official statistics, form of health insurance, and aid to the fami- and the augmented expense of their public lies of living members, and a most grateful support. It is not occasional or accidencharity to that of those departed. There tal, but results from the want of a wellare several institutions in the vicinity of organized system. A large amount of our New York, equal in importance to many charity is, in reality, a shield from personal we have enumerated. THE INSTITUTION pain-an expedient to escape importunity, FOR THE DEAF AND DUMB, incorporated in or the result of impulse in view of misfor1718, 3} miles from the City Hall, has tune. The chief end of intelligent charity, accommodations for a large number of the physical and moral improvement of its pupils. It is well endowed, and has an objects, is defeated, and mendicity, with its able board of instruction and management. , usual attendants, idleness, imposture and
The New York INSTITUTION FOR THE crime, are encouraged.” The defects of Blind; THE SAIlor's Snug HARBOR, the system were summarily stated to befounded in 1801; THE SAIlor's RETREAT, 1st. An entire want of discrimination in and several benevolent institutions un- giving alms. der the direction of the Roman Catholic 2d. The societies acted independently Church, may also be added to the list. of each other, and there was especially no
We come now to a class more entirely reciprocity of intelligence between them; public in their aim and objects. The first hence, artful mendicants often obtained is the New York Association for the Im- aid from several societies at the same time. provement of the Condition of the Poor. 3d. There was no provision for personal Prior to its organization, in 1843, a com- intercourse with the recipients of alms at mittee was appointed to investigate the their own dwellings. private and public charities of New York; This committee examined also our legal when it was found that the aggregate provisions for the poor. It resulted in the amount expended in the previous year certain conviction that they could not emby twenty-four out of thirty-two of these brace all the objects of private benevolence; societies was $163,345 38, and that twenty that after the laws had done their utmost, had in the same period aided 66,000
an immense amount would remain unaccompersons.
This was a large sum to be plished. The object was to devise a betraised by private, voluntary association ter system-one better adapted to the for the poor of a single city. “But when practical exigencies of the city. An agent it is recollected,” observes the committee, visited Boston, Philadelphia, and Balti“ how many similar institutions and reli- more, and by correspondence in this coungious societies there are among us of whose try and abroad gathered practical informapecuniary disbursements we have no re tion from all available sources. With the port, and how immense that stream of aid of this knowledge, the association was charity, which, fed by a thousand rills and organized. Its primary objects were to flowing from a thousand unobserved sour-check indiscriminate almsgiving; to put ces, constantly dispenses its blessings to an end to street-begging and vagrancy; the needy, large as this reported sum is, to visit the poor at their dwellings, and it is but a fraction of the annual aggregate carefully examine their circumstances, and expenditure in the city for this object. In extend to them appropriate relief'; last, a pecuniary point of view, therefore, there and not least, to inculcate habits of frugalis wanted an efficient system to direct its ity, temperance, industry and self-dependadministration. If charity amongst us ence, and especially to unite the whole were judiciously dispensed, imposture, city during the winter months in prompt, idleness, and beggary would be repressed, systematic and wisely directed action. and there would be a visible improvement This was the plan. The entire city, in the condition of the poor commensurate from the Battery to Fortieth streetwith our expenditure. But the reverse is which now comprises near 400,000 inhab
itants—was divided into SIXTEEN DISTRICTS. tion are such that each visitor can personEach of these districts was again subdi- ally see every family within his own in the vided into SECTIONS, making in all near space of a few hours. Each visitor is furthree hundred. For each district there nished with a manual containing rules by was appointed a responsible committee, which he is to be guided in dispensing aid. and for each section an efficient visitor. It In each district some one or two groceries provided a central office of business, and are designated by the association on which appointed a general agent to superintend orders are to be given to the poor by the all operations of the society. At this of- visitors. Aid is rarely given in money, fice is kept a register of all persons who but in groceries and provisions, in clothes receive aid and the date of its reception, and fuel. The committees of each district to which is also added an account of all hold semi-monthly meetings, and oftener, other aid received by one and the same in an inclement period. Every visitor person from any other source. At the renders to the committee of his district a opening of the winter each visitor solicits monthly report of all the persons and famcontributions from all persons residing ilies he has aided. The following is a within his section, to the general fund of tabular form of the report, and shows fully the association. The limits of every sec the nature of a visitor's labors :
NEW-YORK ASSOCIATION FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE CONDITION OF THE POOR. VISITOR'S MONTHLY REPORT, OF SECTION No.
DISTRICT No. Dated
184 IF A mark with a pen thus , in the columns, will point out the class to which the person named belongs. El
Education. Kind of Relief.
These reports are transferred to the each Visitor; and also blank tickets, by General Agent, who forms a condensed the use of which all applicants are rereport of the operations of the whole ferred. If a citizen is applied to at his city, including statistical and other neces residence, or in the street, he has only sary information, and presents it to the learn the number and street of the appli. Executive Committee at their stated meet- | cant, and hand to him blank No. 1, filled ings. To prevent imposition, and to secure up as follows. The applicant goes at once prompt relief, a pocket directory is annu to the Visitor in his district, who, after due ally furnished to all contributors, who thus inquiry at the home of the bearer of the become members of the Association, and ticket, and finding him needy, fills up and also to all citizens who desire it, which presents him with a Visitor's order No. 2. shows the name, residence, and section of