UNDER the general heading of "migration, immigration, and transiency," discussions at the National Conference of Charities and Correction covered such related subjects as: why men migrate; immigration and settlement laws; and tramps and vagrancy.
At the meetings in 1877, Edward Everett Hale, of Boston, quoted from Richard Hakluyt "Discourse on Western Planting":
. . . for want of sufficient occasion of honest employment through . . . long peace and seldom sickness . . . we are grown more populous . . . so that [we] can hardly live one by another, . . . yea many thousands of idle persons are within this realm . . . having no way to be set on work [become] burdensome to the commonwealth . . . whereby all the prisons of the land are . . . stuffed full of them, where either they . . . pine away or else at length are miserably hanged, even twenty at a clap out of some one jail.
Hale added the invention of machinery and the aftermath of the soldiers' experiences in the Civil War, quickened by the reckless generosity of the people, as the modern conditions contributing to mobility of population and unemployment. Back of these statements is apparent the astonishment of the average man at the spectacle of idle fellows in the midst of what appears to be plenty of work and general prosperity. Frederick J. Turner had not yet come forward to point out how the frontier had absorbed the more venturesome of those who did not