The Despised Poor: Newburgh's War on Welfare

By Joseph P. Ritz | Go to book overview

ONE A PLEASANT LITTLE CITY

MAY 1, 1961, dawned chilly in Newburgh, New York. Across the river the sun inched its way up the top of Mount Beacon until its rays began dispelling the mist rising from the valley below.

About nine in the morning a line of shabbily-dressed whites and Negroes began forming in front of the door to police headquarters in the city's gray-painted City Hall. The people in it moved slowly through the door, but the line remained through most of the day as others trudged up the incline from the crowded waterfront to join it. A reporter from the local newspaper described it in the next day's edition:

At 2:15 P.M. yesterday there were approximately 60 persons standing in a Y-shaped line at police headquarters waiting for their [welfare] checks.

They were interrogated in a small, drab back room which ordinarily serves as a communications center and fingerprinting room.

Each applicant was asked to produce proper identification. They were questioned about their marital status, the number of their dependents, their address, and when they last worked.

-3-

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The Despised Poor: Newburgh's War on Welfare
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents viii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • One a Pleasant Little City 3
  • Two "A Hell of a Likeable Guy . . ." 9
  • Three · a Rare Opportunity 20
  • Four · the Groundwork is Prepared 30
  • Five · a Thirteen-Point Program 45
  • Six · White and Black 59
  • Seven July 7, 1961: A Hearing 84
  • Eight · "I'Ll Leave It Up to the Lord to Provide." 102
  • Nine · Injunction 115
  • Ten · Mitchell the Politician 131
  • Eleven · a Charge of Bribery 169
  • Twelve Results of the Newburgh Program 188
  • A Postscript 210
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