From the Depths: The Discovery of Poverty in the United States

By Robert H. Bremner | Go to book overview
Save to active project

CHAPTER 8
The New View of Poverty

...a vast army of the poor in this country are not in poverty because they want to be, but because they have not been able to avoid slipping down into the economic slough of despond. For the hardworking father of a large family, who has been inadequately educated, or who has indeed entered the world but poorly equipped physically to fight the battle of life, it is natural that an industrial panic, that high rents, that dust-breathing trades, that industrial accidents from unprotected machinery, that disease and other ills must almost inevitably bring poverty. And when poverty comes in at the door many of the customary virtues go out through the window... Deception, falsehood, unreliability, intemperance follow naturally in the wake of poverty.

"The Conquest of Poverty," Metropolitan Magazine, October, 1909.

A LTHOUGH the Victorian era was marked by mounting concern for the poor, few nineteenth-century students of social questions were really interested in poverty. Until quite late in the century "the poor" was used to denote persons receiving or in need of charity. Literary and political hacks heaped praise on the "honest" or self-supporting poor, but social scientists paid this group scant heed. In an age of laissez faire it was taken for granted that dependency was the only phase of the poverty problem that affected society, or with which society was competent to deal According to the prevailing view, a man's economic condition was nobody's business but his own -- until he "degenerated," ceased to be independent, and became a charge on society. Throughout most of the nineteenth century, therefore, pauperism rather than poverty engaged the attention of students, and the energies of reformers were directed less at the abolition of want than at devising methods of relieving distress.

-123-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
From the Depths: The Discovery of Poverty in the United States
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 372

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?