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Note. — In winter time, besides the table spread at the City Temporary Home in Chardon street, and that at St. Stephen's, a private charity in Purchase street, soup is supplied to those that need it at the police stations, and last year 17,617 gallons were distributed. Of the lodgers at the stations other than prisoners, numbering 34,938, 13,676 were born in the United States. Of course many of them were repeaters, many regular tramps. Of the prisoners at the stations, 25,201 in all, 7,409 were born in the United States, 16,535 in the British Dominions.
At the city salt-water baths in different parts of the city, 1,467,276 baths were taken: 1,276,575 by males, 190,701 by females.
NOTE. -This year $280,000 has been distributed among our Boston charities from the estate of Miss Abigail Joy.
2. In response to the second point of inquiry, the principles upon which legal provision for the support of the poor is founded in Massachusetts are believed to be religious obligation and prudential considerations. So long as all communities multiply down to the lowest standard of subsistence, or the poor are attracted to centres abounding in wealth, there will be multitudes of young and old, infirm and incapable, unable or unwilling to earn their support; and this must be supplied either by the public or individuals. So many evils are shown by experience to attend the spasmodic and indiscriminate relief afforded by private charity, especially when unorganized, that in well-ordered States regulation by authority has been considered the true policy. This intervention is generally limited to the relief of absolute necessity, to save life or prevent disease and suffering. But incidentally it aims at improving the condition of the poor, by teaching and training the young for work and self-dependence, by inculcating morality and promoting industry, cleanliness, and temperance. These objects are steadily kept in view by our own charitable organizations, public and private, which, by mutual intelligence, consultation, and co-operation, seek to afford every meritorious case of destitution whatever aid it can justly claim from the general benevolence, practical good sense, and combined resources of the public.
Funds levied by general taxation are appropriated each year by the Legislature for the maintenance of the State charities, including the support of the sick without settlements whose health would suffer by removal to a State almshouse. The towns in town meeting appropriate each year a certain portion of their assessed taxes, for the support of the poor who have settlements therein, or have any claim under the law; and the cities in their city councils, the average of that in this city being, for out-door relief through the overseers, sixty thousand dollars. * Support full or partial of
* Of this a portion is returned to the City Treasury by the State and municipalities. Much less is now expended than before the reform. It is said that nearly enough has already been saved to the public, although every reasonable claim has been satisfied, to meet the cost of our Central Relief Building and Temporary Home. From more systematic methods growing out of experience
the poor being a legal obligation on the municipalities, they are liable to suit for reimbursement of expenses incurred for their settled poor by other cities or towns, or private individuals, after notice.
3. In answer to the third point of inquiry, overseers are by general law in Massachusetts elected annually in town meetings in March, and in cities by the wards at the municipal election, but by special laws in several of the cities they are chosen by the city councils for three years with alternate vacancies, four going out each year, such a provision having been made for Boston, in 1864. For the last fifty years the charge of the in-door poor of Boston (this not including those in the Temporary Home attached to the Central Relief Building) has been vested in the Directors of Public Institutions, also chosen by the City Council, for a like period, who have, besides, the care of the penal and reformatory institutions, as also of the City Lunatic Asylum.
4. In answer to this fourth point of inquiry, it is not easy to discriminate between paupers, justly so called, and those without means or ability to procure them, who are supported by public or private charity. Very few persons able to work are so supported unless upon sentence for intemperance or vagrancy; and what are called tramps look rather for their maintenance to begging and thieving, than to the authorities. Nor for reasons already stated would the numbers in the institutions, or on the poor-lists in Boston, be any criterion of the measure or extent of its pauperism. A large number of the destitute are attracted here by the inducements held out to them by its numerous charities; our institutions are
the numbers relieved have not been proportionate to the increased population. This is to be attributed to no undue parsimony, but to a more accurate information, and better management in the administration, and also to a larger number of the poor having been taught to rely on their own efforts. This condition is not only true of Boston, but is equally observable of the State. The average number, for example, in 1860, of State and city paupers, was 5,276; in 1870, only 4,457. During this period of ten years the population of the State Had increased from 1,230,000 to over 1,500,000. The increase in the cost of their support was less than thirty-five per cent., being stated as $760,000 in 1860, and about $1,108,574 in 1870.
largely supplied with inmates from abroad, from other parts of Massachusetts, or neighboring States; while many of our own domiciled poor, who have no settlements, are supported in State almshouses and asylums. Nor is it possible to draw any exact line between those who, from age or infirmity, are poor, and those who, from vices apt to be attendant on poverty, or from intemperance, are in penal or reformatory establishments.
By referring to the answer to the fifth point of inquiry, the average number in the public institutions of Boston, exclusive of the Hospital and Temporary Home, the last year, will be found stated
64, and the cost of their maintenance $300,000, from which must be deducted one hundred thousand dollars earnings of the prisoners in the House of Correction, which institution, as is the case with our State Prison, near by the city, is self-supporting, and of those in the House of Industry. If to this number, 1,664, is added the average in the Temporary Home, the number would exceed 1,700, supported at public charge, and with the 200 in the Hospital, 1,900. Besides these 1,900 inmates of the City Institutions, there is an average of from five to eight hundred sick, poor, or insane, in ten or twelve private hospitals, about one thousand children, and nearly as many more persons, aged, infirm, blind, or other vagrant objects of charity, in other homes and asylums. Probably from four to five millions of dollars would not fully represent the value of the estates and funds of these fifty or sixty private foundations; and the cost of maintenance, derived in part from income of funds and in part from annual contributions, is not far from four hundred thousand dollars. The number of inmates is constantly fluctuating, and there are no doubt several other institutions not on the list that belong there, of which we have no information.
Any attempt to state with precision the amounts distributed in out-door relief would be equally futile and fallacious. The sixty thousand dollars from the Overseers of the Poor, together with the income of their trust funds for those who have seen better days, partially relieved about six thousand persons, allowing three to the family of each recipient. But so many of the poor and necessitous are aided by charitable associations or by indi
viduals, that it is impossible to ascertain either the number relieved or the amounts disbursed with any approach to exactness. In the list appended to the answer to the first point of inquiry, forty or fifty associations are enumerated, which distribute annually in out-door relief more than two hundred thousand dollars ; but this sum would fall far short of the actual aggregate should we add what is given by the churches, Masons, Odd Fellows, and similar societies, or by private benevolence. Any estimate must be so purely conjectural that we prefer to leave the figures presented to be grouped according to the special purposes of the inquiry. The whole amount expended would probably bear no proportion to what is appropriated in London or other great cities for the relief of want, but the manifold streams emanating from such various sources are, as everywhere else, a very general and powerful instrumentality for good or for evil. All must admit that the actual benefit conferred by these charities must depend upon the good judgment not simply which governs their administration, and as applied merely to any individual institution, but to the principles that control their management as part of one general system of relief. It may be difficult, but it is not impossible to bring about such systematic co-operation among those who manage them as to prevent fraud or increase of pauperism, and this is what we are aiming at in Boston, and what we understand to be now under experiment in London upon a larger scale and under circumstances more discouraging.
5. In answer to the fifth point of inquiry, the City Hospital accommodates about two hundred patients, at a cost of one hundred thousand dollars. The number received last year was about 3,260; discharged, 2,800; died, 200. It has attached to it a dispensary, and last year about 9,000 individuals were treated there, or at their homes.
To the House of Industry were committed last year 1,431 males, 2,080 females; total, 3,514 ; and discharged 1,358 males, 2,040 females ; total, 3,398; 229 males, 252 females, remained May 1, 1871. Of those committed, 3,097 were for drunkenness, and the rest generally for vagrancy.
To the House of Reformation were committed 192 boys, and 22 girls; and there remained 269 boys and 38 girls, May 1, 1871.