Benson John Lossing.

Harper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) online

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nnd they also formed the larger propor- their care. The evil was greatly aug-

iion of juvenile criminals. In 1848 there niented by the passage of the now cele-

were, in New York City alone, 30,000 such brated " children s law " in 1875, which



contained a clause providing that all chil- before the passage of the " children s
dren committed to institutions should be law," showed that only 8 per cent, of the
placed in those controlled by persons of total had been in institutions over five
the same religious faith as the parents of years. An equally striking fact is that,
the children. Mrs. Charles Russell Low- since the passage of the " children s
ell says : " The direct effect of this pro- law," the number of children placed in
vision is found in the establishment of families by institutions has greatly de-
nine Roman Catholic and two Hebrew in- creased. In 1875, out of 14,773 children
stitutions to receive committed children, in institutions, there were 823 placed in
all except three having between 300 and families. In 1884, out of 33,558 children
1,300 inmates each." in institutions, there were only 1,370

Within twenty years after this law placed in families. While the population
passed the number of inmates in the of the State of New York increased but
twenty-seven institutions benefited direct- 38 per cent, during the first seventeen
ly by it increased from 9,000 to 16,000. years after the passage of the law, the
In 1889, of the 20,384 children cared for number of children in institutions in-
in the city institutions, only 1,776 were creased 96 per cent.

orphans and 4,987 half-orphans. The re- In New York City a report of 1894
maining 13,621 had been committed by shows the distribution of its 15,331 de-
magistrates, many on the request of par- pendent children as follows: 1,975 in
ents, or had been brought by parents Hebrew institutions, 2,789 in Protestant
voluntarily to the institution. In Kings institutions, 10,567 in Roman Catholic
county alone, five years after the passage institutions. This did not include the
of the " children s law," the number of blind, deaf, feeble-minded, and delinquent
dependent children increased from 300 to children who are cared for in special in-
1,479, most of the commitments being stitutions.

made by parents anxious to be relieved As opposed to its institutions, the State
of the care of their children until the has, in several of its counties, adopted to
wage-earning period was reached. An- some degree the more natural method of
other objectionable feature arose from the child-saving, with marked results. Alarmed
greater length of time that children have at the increasing expense of its juvenile
been retained in institutions since the institutions, Erie county in 1879 began
passage of the law. With a direct per to take measures for boarding-out its de-
copita income from the State, the institu- pendent children, and through the me-
tions have not been able to withstand the diumship of the newspapers the agent
temptation to keep their charges as long placed the needs of the county before the
as possible. The reports of the comp- people. He also interested clergymen and
troller s office for October, 1894, showed editors in the project. Advertising cards,
that 1,935 children in institutions had with pictures of the children, were sent
been inmates over five years; fifty-five of out, and this vigorous canvass resulted in
these were in Protestant institutions, 268 speedy applications for the children, who
in Hebrew institutions, and 1,612 in Roman were sent to good country homes by the
Catholic institutions. The same year show- score. The agent always impressed upon
ed an average of 567 children in institu- the foster-parents the fact that the child
tions between thirteen and fourteen years was still the ward of the county, which
of age, 444 between fourteen and fifteen, expected them to co-operate with it in
and 247 between fifteen and sixteen years training him to a life of usefulness. The
of age. One institution in 1892 had wards chief opposition came from the institu-
twenty-two years old, and was " caring tions, which in many cases refused to let
for " 129 youths over seventeen years of the children go. But the board of super-
age. In 1894 it was found that 23 per visors met this obstacle by reducing the
cent, of the dependent children of New per capita price of board, and by passing
York City had been in institutions at pub- a resolution declaring that, if any child
lie cost over periods ranging from five was refused to the county s agent, the
to fourteen years. A report of the State superintendent of the poor would at once
board of charities for 1873, three years stop payment for his board. This opened



the doors of the institutions, and Erie as fast as the general population. When

county, which in 1879 was paying $48,000 New York City had a population of

yearly for the support of its dependent 1,750,000, it supported over 15,000 chil-

children, had by 1892 decreased its ex- dren in institutions, or one dependent child

penses two-thirds, though the population to every 117 of population. The number of

had increased one-third. Monroe, West- dependent children in Philadelphia in

Chester, and Orange counties also placed 1894 was one to every 1,979 of its popula-

out their children to some extent. tion. This difference arises from the fact

When the revised constitution went into that Philadelphia had ceased to be an
effect there were 15,000 children, or more, institutionalized city, and boarded or
in institutions in New York City, costing placed out nearly all its dependent chil-
the city over $1,500,000 yearly. The in- dren, the Philadelphia Children s Aid So-
stitutions throughout the State received ciety being the agent employed. Nearly
about $2,500,000 yearly for the support of every county poor-board also takes advan-
their charges. The revised constitution tage of its aid to place its dependent
gave the State board of charities juris- children, as far as possible, in its care,
diction over all the charities in the State, During the thirteen years of its exist-
whether public or private, and a law was ence the Children s Aid Society had re-
enacted by the legislature putting the ceived about 6,004 children from the vari-
placing-out of children into the hands of ous almshouses, poor-boards, and courts,
this board. Under this law, during the and placed them in homes in the country,
years 1896 and 1897, 1,500 children were It has the names of over 700 families
placed in homes in the rural communities, v/hose respectability and fitness are
The number of children in institutions vouched for, the society s agents having
was further decreased by the action of the visited and ascertained by personal in-
State Charities Aid Association in ap- vestigation their status in the coinmu-
pointing examiners to investigate the nity. Most of these families are at a dis-
status of the children already in institu- tance of at least 100 miles from any large
tions, or for whom application had been city, it being deemed best, in case of de-
made. The official report of the examin- linquent children especially, to bring
ers for 1896 and 1897 shows that, out of them up amid strictly rural surroundings.
26,561 investigations, 7,303 cases were dis- The attitude of the society towards its
approved, though the children in many charges is that " its duty to the child is
cases had been in the institutions for not one of mere support, but one of
years. preparation for life," and that the sole

Boys of twelve, thirteen, fifteen, six- question arising in the mind of the ob-
teen, and seventeen years of age were server of city-institution life should be,
found, whose families were amply able " Is the precise thing which I am looking
to provide for them, but who had been at the very best thing that can be pro-
supported by the State for periods rang- vided, in order that the child may have
ing from six to nine years. One girl of the same reliance which makes the coun-
sixteen was found who had spent twelve try boy, on the whole, the best wage-
years of her life in institutions, being left earner that the city ever sees?"
at the critical age without home ties or The society possesses thousands of rec-
interests, and with an utter lack of train- ords attesting the happiness and well
ing in ordinary domestic affairs. The being of its wards, and the unwritten
monthly reports from the comptroller s records obtained through personal visits
office show a pecuniary saving from the from its agents are more satisfactory
decrease of dependent children, while the still. The agent finds the little sickly
moral gains through the return of these two-year-old, whom she left a few months
children to the normal ways of life is, before hardly expecting to see it alive
of course, incalculable. Hitherto ihe again, well nourished and radiant with
State of New York has paid two-fifths of returning vitality, surrounded by toys,
a-11 the money spent in the United States dressed in clean clothing, the care and
for the care of dependent children, while the pet of the whole family. One baby,
child pauperism has increased three times left at the age of eleven months unable



to hold up its head or sit alone, had been has no dependent children, technically
restored to perfect health. The foster- speaking, in institutions supported by the
mother here had expressed a preference State. Largely affected by the problem
for a " real smart baby," one that she of immigration, and under the strain pro-
could show off to her neighbors. But, as duced by great centres of population en-
she bent over this tiny sufferer, his little, gaged in mill and factory work, and so
thin face made its undeniable appeal, and removed from the more healthful in-
she said, as she cried over him, that fluences of smaller village and country
" somebody would have to keep him, and life, this State has yet so successfully
she calculated she could do it as well solved the problem of juvenile pauperism
as any one else." The agent carries away that, out of a population of 2,500,000, it
innumerable mental pictures of these has only 2,852 wards to support. The
little waifs who have found home and State has a nursery at Roxbury, where
health in the beautiful hill country of destitute infants are cared for while re-
Pennsylvania. She sees the children on quiring medical or surgical treatment,
the benches of the village school, or shar- and where children boarded out are
ing the innocent pleasures of childhood in brought for treatment when necessary,
wood and meadow. She finds them in the The nursery is a temporary home only in
barn or field with the foster-father, pick- the strictest sense of the word, boarding-
ing up useful knowledge, learning ways out being the end in view. There is also
of industry and honest living, and, above a temporary boarding-place at Arlington,
all, sharing the interest of the family as and a home for wayward boys. The
if he were to the manor born. Very State has two industrial schools, the Ly-
often these boarded-out children step man School for Boys, and the State In-
into a place left vacant by death, and dustrial School for Girls. There are
often they bring to a childless home the also two reform schools. With these
first knowledge of the privileges and bless- exceptions, the dependent children of
ings that come with children. The so- Massachusetts are placed or boarded
ciety has innumerable photographs show- out.

ing the children in their comfortable In 1889 California paid $231,215 for

homes, studying in the cosey sitting- the support of 36,000 children in

rooms, playing games with the farmer s asylums, while Michigan, with double the

older boys, or with the farmer himself, population of California, paid only $35,-

and sharing, in fact, in all the simple and 000 for the support of 230 children. In

sweet scenes of family life. 1893, California, still working under the

A most careful method of supervision old system, paid $250,000 for the support

is enforced by the society, not only of 40,000 children in institutions, while

through frequent visits of its agents, but Minnesota, with a population about equal

through numerous reports made by the to California, supported only 169 dcpend-

physicians, school - teachers, and other ent children in its State public schools,

reliable and interested persons. Ques- the remainder being placed or boarded

tion blanks are sent for these reports, out.

which are filed and make a full record of There are, in all, perhaps eight or nine
the child s history while under the care States in the Union in which boarding-
of the society. As far as possible, the out and placing-out are carried on in
children are boarded in families of the greater or less degree, these systems af-
sarne religion as that of their parents, fecting about three-tenths of the depend-
In order not to create a class distinction, ent children in the country. The remain-
the society does not allow the boarded-out ing seven-tenths, numbering more than
children of a village or farming district 70,000, are still in institutions.
ever to exceed 2 or 3 per cent, of the The United States is an institutional-
child population. ized land, and the great republic, w r hich

Massachusetts, with a population to boasts of freedom and equality, still re-

the square mile exceeding that of New gards her dependent children as aliens

York, and in which the artificial condi- and brands them with the stigma of

tions of living are practically the same, pauperism.



The evolutionist sees the earliest mani- posited in the letter-boxes were delivered?
festation of altruism in that primary in- Would the community rest contented in
stinct, found even in the lowest forms the satisfaction that a large majority of
of plant life, to protect the young in its citizens were not unjustly thrown into
the seed and bud the instinct of mother- prison? Would a father be satisfied to
hood. Upon this eternal principle of life know that five of his six children were
the problem of child-saving must rest, not actually suffering from hunger and
There is no one so morally fit to rear an cold?" And this is the principle upon
unfortunate child as the mother of a re- which child-savers must act. The insti-
spectable family, whose experience with tution may save the child up to a certain
her own brood has taught her the needs point. But we want him saved for all
and demands of childhood. Nowhere else time. Only the abandonment of the cost-
is so abundantly manifested that trust in ly institutions the expensive buildings
the " larger hope," as in the patience that might with profit in New York City be
waits upon motherhood. To this patience turned into public schools and an ac-
and this hope the State may well com- ceptance of the method which experience
mit the welfare of its most unfortunate has so far shown to be the best, can solve
class. For, although the institution life the question of pauperism in the United
of to-day is not accompanied by all the States with success.

horrors that once disfigured it, yet sore The boarding-out system is another ex-
eyes, diseased bodies, and a high death ample of the truth of the adage that
rate still prevail. According to the official " mercy is twice blessed." The love and
report of 1897 the death rate at the In- care of the foster-parents are in large
fants Asylum on Randall s Island was, measure repaid by their charges, who yield
for foundlings, 80 per cent.; for other them in old age that affectionate pro-
children without their mothers, 59 per tection which is the privilege of children,
cent.; children with their mothers, 13 per When at service, they save their wages
cent. Out of 366 children under six and deny themselves little luxuries, that
months of age, admitted without their they may help their foster-parents. They
mothers in 1896, only twelve lived, the come back to their former homes to be
remainder dying between five and six married; and, in case of a family, if
weeks after admission to the asylum. In- either parent dies, the survivor brings the
stitutionalism is an artificial system, with children to the foster-mother to be cared
the stigma of failure attaching to it. in- for. Joy and sorrow are shared together,
asmuch as its presence always indicates and, when attacked by fatal sickness, it
an increase of the very evil it was origi- is to the foster-home that the child re-
rially meant to combat. Without admit- turns to die.

ting as truth the statement, made by some Nature, the wise teacher, has sealed her
experts, that all institution-bred children approval of fosterage by forging that
turn out either knaves or fools, sufficient mysterious tie which binds parent and
testimony may be found to force home child, which no absence may sunder and
the startling argument that, of the 100,- which remains unbroken even in death.
000 children cared for by the State to- Boarding-out has paid in every sense. Out
day, there is grave danger that the seven- of the class in which pauperism was
tenths who are in institutions will carry hereditary sometimes three or four gen-
through life the brand of a system which orations of the same family being paupers
has handicapped them in the race for it has created a respectable working
success. class, at a cost in dollars and cents far be-

Mr. Homer Folks, secretary of the State low the cost of institution life. Over the

Charities Aid Association of New York, neglected and despised pauper child it has

in speaking of child-saving, says: " Would extended the regis of the State, making

the directors of a bank be satisfied with the least of these little ones understand

knowing that most of its funds were not that, though deprived of love and home by

stolen? Would the working of the pos- f:\to. ho has still a mother-land whose care

tal department be considered satisfactory will guard him lovingly and whose honor

if simply a majority of the letters de- must be his sacred ideal.



ist; born in Peekskill, N. Y., April 23,
1834; graduated at Yale University in
1856; studied law and was admitted to
the bar in 1858; member of New York
Assembly in 1801-62; secretary of state
of New York in 1863. He became attorney
for the New York and Harlem River Rail
road in 1366, and for the New York Cen-


tral and Hudson River Railroad in 1869.
He was second vice-president of the last
mentioned road in 1885-98, and also presi
dent of the West Shore Railroad until
1898, when he became chairman of the
board of directors of the New York Cen
tral and Hudson River, the Lake Shore
and Michigan Southern, the Michigan
Central, and the New York, Chicago, and
St. Louis railroads. In 1885 he refused to
be a candidate for the United States Sen
ate, and also declined the office of United
States Secretary of State, offered by Presi
dent Benjamin Harrison. In 1888 he was
a, prominent candidate for the Presidential
nomination in the National Republican
Convention, and in 1899 was elected
United States Senator from New York.
He is widely known as an orator and
after-dinner speaker.

Washington Centennial Oration. On
April 30, 1889, Senator Depew delivered

the following oration at the centennial of
Washington s inauguration as first Presi
dent of the United States, in New York

We celebrate to-day the centenary of
our nationality. One hundred years ago
the United States began their existence.
The powers of government were assumed
by the people of the republic, and they
became the sole source of authority. The
solemn ceremonial of the first inaugura
tion, the reverent oath of Washington, the
acclaim of the multitude greeting their
President, marked the most unique event
of modern times in the development of free
institutions. The occasion was not an
accident, but a result. It was the culmina
tion of the working out by mighty forces
through many centuries of the problem of
self-government. It was not the triumph
of a system, the application of a theory,
or the reduction to practice of the ab
stractions of philosophy. The time, the
country, the heredity and environment of
the people, the folly of its enemies, and
the noble courage of its friends, gave to
liberty, after ages of defeat, of trial, of
experiment, of partial success and sub
stantial gains, this immortal victory.
Henceforth it had a refuge and recruiting
station. The oppressed found free homes
in this favored land, and invisible armies
marched from it by mail and telegraph,
by speech and song, by precept and ex
ample, to regenerate the world.

Puritans in New England, Dutchmen in
New York, Catholics in Maryland, Hugue
nots in South Carolina, had felt the fires
of persecution and were wedded to re
ligious liberty. They had been purified
in the furnace, and in high debate and on
bloody battle-fields had learned to sacri
fice all material interests and to peril
their lives for human rights. The prin
ciples of constitutional government had
been impressed upon them by hundreds of
years of struggle, and for each principle
they could point to the grave of an an
cestor whose death attested the ferocity
of the fight and the value of the conces
sion wrung from arbitrary power. They
knew the limitations of authority, they
could pledge their lives and fortunes to
resist encroachments upon their rights,
but it required the lesson of Indian massa.-



cres, the invasion of the armies of France
from Canada, the tyranny of the British
crown, the seven years war of Revolu
tion, and the five years of chaos of the
Confederation to evolve the idea upon
which rest the power and permanency of
the republic, that liberty and union are
one and inseparable.

The traditions and experience of the
colonists had made them alert to discover
and quick to resist any peril to their lib
erties. Above all things, they feared and
distrusted power. The town-meetings
and the colonial legislature gave them
confidence in themselves, and courage to
check the royal governors. Their inter
ests, hopes, and affections were in their
several commonwealths, and each blow by
the British ministry at their freedom,
each attack upon their rights as English
men, weakened their love for the mother
land, and intensified their hostility to
the crown. But the same causes which
broke down their allegiance to the central
government increased their confidence in
their respective colonies, and their faith
in liberty was largely dependent upon the
maintenance of the sovereignty of their
several States. The farmers shot at Lex
ington echoed round the world, the spirit
which it awakened from its slumbers
could do and dare and die, but it had not
yet discovered the secret of the perma
nence and progress of free institutions.
Patrick Henry thundered in the Virginia
convention; James Otis spoke with trump
et tongue and fervid eloquence for united
action in Massachusetts; Hamilton, Jay,
and Clinton pledged New York to respond
with men and money for the common
cause; but their vision only saw a league
of independent colonies. The veil was not
yet drawn from before the vista of popu
lation and pow r er, of empire and liberty,
which would open with national union.

The Continental Congress partially
grasped, but completely expressed, the
central idea of the American republic.
More fully than any other body which
ever assembled did it represent the victo
ries won from arbitrary power for human
rights. In the New World it was the con
servator of liberties secured through cen
turies of struggle in the Old. Among the
delegates were the descendants of the men
who had stood in that brilliant array

upon the field of Runnymede, which
wrested from King John Magna Charta,
that great charter of liberty, to which
Hallam, in the nineteenth century, bears
witness " that all which had been since
obtained is little more than as confirma
tion or commentary." There were the
grandchildren of the statesmen who had
summoned Charles before Parliament and
compelled his assent to the Petition of
Rights, which transferred power from the
crown to the commons, and gave repre
sentative government to the English-
speaking race. And there were those who
had sprung from the iron soldiers who
had fought and charged with Cromwell at
Naseby and Dunbar and Marston Moor.
Among its members were Huguenots,

Online LibraryBenson John LossingHarper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) → online text (page 14 of 76)