Conditions in the Late Nineteenth Century.
In the great cities of the nineteenth century slum dwellers crowded into foul-smelling tenements(公寓) , worked in sweatshop industries, and were victims of such working and living conditions as seemed beyond any power to remedy or change. The tenements, four to six stories high, crowded along alleys, which served as air-shafts. Only a few of the rooms faced the alley; the majority of the rooms had access to neither light nor air. There was little or no inside plumbing, and frequently there was but a single sink with running water for an entire tenement. There were no playgrounds, no parks, and few schoolhouses in such areas. There were saloons(公共大厅) ; there was plenty of vice and crime; and there was disease.
On New York's East Side, the death rate for children in 1888 was 140 per 1000. Today it is about 7 per 1000. Contagious diseases such as typhoid fever, smallpox, diphtheria, scarlet fever, and tuberculosis took a frightful toll every year. In the 1890's, Jacob Riis, a Danish immigrant, began writing stories about the conditions among the poor who lived in Murderers' Alley, Hell's Kitchen, Poverty Gap, the Lung Blocks, and the Bowery. His book, How the Other Half Lives, stirred the conscience of the nation. People on other parts of the country began to see that the conditions in New York which he so vividly described might also exist in the cities where they lived.
In rural districts the poor found life equally hard. Hamlin Garland, novelist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wrote graphically(生动地) of the hardships of life on the Middle Border. He described the hard work on the farm. There was no romance in getting up at five o'clock in the morning with the temperature thirty degrees below zero. "It required military discipline to get us out of bed in a chamber warmed only by the stovepipe, to draw on icy socks and frosty boots and go to milking cows. "
The Salvation(拯救) Army.
In times of distress poor people were chiefly dependent upon private charities, political clubs, and religious organizations for charity.
The Salvation Army, which had its beginning in England, was also organized in America in 1879. It was more than a religious organization concerned with the spreading of Christian faith among the poor and the outcasts of society. Its workers went into the slums and worked among the poor and destitute. Long before the twentieth century this organization had set up employment agencies, lodging houses for the homeless, soup kitchens for the hungry, and was carrying on a whole program of social service for those in need. Its little chapels and houses of refuge were to be found in every city.
The YMCA and Other Religious Agencies.
In the same spirit the Young Men's Christian Association expanded its program to more than social and religious work among the young men of the great cities. It began to branch out into educational programs and practical service to the needy. To many of the poor immigrants coming from the Catholic countries of southern Europe, the only refuge was the Church; and the Catholic Church during the period of the 1890's and the early 1900's carried on a great and worthy program of real service to many who were in great need. The Jewish synagogue(会堂) and leaders of their faith took an equally active part in the program of social service among their people. Settlement Houses.
Social settlements were established in many cities during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Among the most famous were Jane Addams' Hull House founded by Lillian D. Wald in New York City. Hull House and the Henry Street Settlement were not just refuges for the down and out. In these places, men and women first learned to attack in a realistic way the causes of poverty. Here the lust Americanization classes were formed. English was taught to adults, and practical programs were worked out to help foreigners to adjust themselves to the new ways of living in a new land.
Public Efforts Against Poverty.
The New York Commission of 1900 completed an investigation that disclosed the seriousness of the problem of poverty in cities. This commission had been appointed by Theodore Roosevelt while he was governor of New York State. The result of the investigation was the passage of the first tenement law. Under this law tenements must meet certain standards of sanitation, lighting, and ventilation.
By the twentieth century State Boards of Charity and Correction had been established in most of our states. In an industrial civilization such as ours, the amount of poverty varies from time to time depending upon conditions in industry. The development of the charitable societies in the 1870's and 1880's and the settlement houses during the same period was not proof that the problem was being solved, only that the public was aware of it. The magnitude of the problem also became apparent. Through such organizations as the Family Welfare Organization or Associated Charities, private charitable groups in an area were merged into a single organization so that adequate aid could be provided after careful investigation, for those who were in greatest need. In normal times, this plan worked fairly well, but in times of prolonged depression it was inadequate.
Federal Aid for Unemployment.
The depression which began in 1929 threw millions out of work and caused economic distress throughout the country. By 1931, there were 10,000,000 unemployed. In 1935, 18,000,000 were on relief. That meant one out of every seven in the whole population. Congress set up a Public Works Administration with funds to build dams, power plants, highways, schools, hospitals, post offices, and other public projects, to help absorb the unemployed. Emergency relief had been established by the Civil Works Administration to provide temporary relief by putting people to work on hastily devised jobs of digging ditches, widening streets, and repairing public buildings.
The first old-age pension law was passed in Germany in the days of Bismarck, in 1889. Similar laws were passed in France and Great Britain before the close of the nineteenth century. The first state to pass an old-age pension law was Arizona in 1914, only to find the law rendered unconstitutional by the state supreme court. In 1915, the Alaska territory enacted such a law, and legislation to that effect was passed in Montana, Nevada, and Pennsylvania in 1923. By 1940 every state had some kind of old-age pension system in force, but these laws provided for a maximum of about $ 25 to $ 30 a month, hardly sufficient to buy food and shelter.
In 1935 was enacted the Federal Social Security Act. By this law the Federal government promised to match dollar for dollar the money spent by states in the assistance of old-age pensions.
1. The passage gives a general description of a variety of organizations in history to help the poor and needy.
2. The first Federal Security Act was enacted in the U. S. in 1923.
3. How the Other Half Lives awakened people to the awful conditions of the poor in American great cities.
4. When the depression was extended, local organizations proved to be inadequate.
5. The sole purpose of settlement house was to teach English to adults.
6. Theodore Roosevelt got America out of poverty.
7. The Salvation Army was organized first in America.
8. The first U. S. tenement law required that tenements must come up to standards of ______and ventilation.
9. The first U. S. old-age pension laws provided for______at most a month.
10. ______depicted the hard work on the farm.
I. Y 2. N 3. Y 4. Y 5. N 6. NG 7. N 8. sanitation, lighting 9. $25 to $30 10. Hamlin Garland