Joseph Tuckerman ( 1778- 1840)typifies the sort of bourgeois philanthropy associated with American Whiggery. Like Nicholas Biddle, Tuckerman was a man of property, patrician family, and genteel tastes. But while Biddle went into the countinghouse, Tuckerman went into the church. In 1825 he was called to a new kind of urban pastorate: the ministry to the poor in Boston. There Tuckerman displayed talents for organization and innovation rivaling those of Horace Mann. Setting up his chapel in a tenement, he arranged for community activities and established a farm school for slum children and a training program for unskilled blacks. Soon he was cooperating with clergymen of several denominations in a common effort. His most important contribution was the practice of home visitations that combined material assistance with family counseling. If Mann is the father of professional public schoolteaching, Tuckerman is the father of modern social work.
The following selection is a report Tuckerman made to his financial supporters, the American Unitarian Association. It is a clear, matter-of-fact exposition of the methods and objectives of nineteenth-century charity. To twentieth-century ears, it sounds rather harsh.
Boston, Nov. 5th, 1829
The approaching winter will probably be one of more than usual suffering among the poor of our city; and in the anticipation of a consequent greater demand for charity, the inquiries have often been proposed within a month or two past, what are the best preparations