YATES REPORT for New York City & County (1824) continued
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CITY AND COUNTY OF NEW-YORK
The number of paupers received in the alms-house, between the first day of April, 1822, and the first day of April, 1823, were 3,355. The number discharged, during the same period, was 2,548. The number who died, was 285. The total number in the house, on the first day of April, 1823, was 1,526. There were also at the aforesaid date, 33 female paupers in the lunatic asylum, whose board are paid from the city treasury, and 139 infant children at nurse on the same terms. The vagrants sent to the bridewell and penitentiary, are considered as paupers, and the average number of them supported at the public expense for the last year, was 222, making the total number of paupers supported by the city, during the whole year, 1,920.
During the months, from the first of December, to the first of April, the press for relief in this city is so great, that it would be impossible to accommodate the whole of the applicants at its alms house, were it twice as large as it is, and the commissioners have therefore adopted a plan, of giving relief to such as are in real necessity, at their own houses, which from experience has been found to be the most economical measure, under the circumstances of the case, that could be adopted. The number relieved in this way, as out door poor, during the last winter and present spring, was 2,022 families, counting from two to nine persons in each, and averaging about four to each family, which will make the total number of persons relieved as out door poor, during the aforesaid period 8,080 and the grand total of those relieved 9,778.
The whole number employed in the alms-house, including nurses, laborers, &c. are 484. The following statement designates the several avocations at which the paupers were employed on the first of April last, and also the number employed at each particular avocation, viz. Men employed as orderly men 25; wood yards 10; bake-house 5; wash-house 3; gardeners 5; blacksmiths 4; carpenters 6; wheelwrights 2; gate keepers 6; cartmen 4; weavers 20; shoemakers 25; mill-house 2; laborers 20; cooks 6; coopers 2; basket maker 2; in the cloth factory 36; in the pin factory 20; oakum pickers 50; taylors 20; barbers 5; doctors shop 5; school-masters 4; making the total number of men and boys employed 276. Many of those men are too old and infirm to labor, but they are kept doing a little, more for the benefit or their health, than for the value of what they do.
Women employed. As nurses and assistants 50; spinsters 25; washing and ironing 28; kitchen work 8; scrabbers 10; girls in pin factory 12; total, 208. One hundred and six of the women above designated, have children from one to four each, which of course occupies a good proportion of their time, in attending to their wants. The value of the labor cannot be accurately stated, as the whole produce, except a small amount received from the pin factory and oakum pickers, is consumed in the house. The operation of the stepping mill, however, saves to the establishment from twelve to eighteen hundred dollars annually, the labor on which is performed by those confined in the penitentiary and not by the paupers.
The following is the products of the house, for one year, as near as could be ascertained, including every thing of any importance that has been made or manufactured there, viz. 4,210 yards of wollen cloth; 3,500 yards of linen cloth; 8,290 yards of cotton cloth; 3,332 pair of shoes made; 3,000 pair mended; 17,500 bushels of grain may be ground by the stepping mill; 20 ton of oakum picked; 3,000 lb. of shoe and sewing thread, linen and tow yarn spun; 4,000 pair of stockings and socks knit; 1,500 suits of clothing made in the house. Those who labor in the factory, are estimated to earn about $15 per annum each. The value of the labor on the above articles, including all the services performed by the paupers in and about the establishment, is estimated at the round sum of $10,000. This it must be observed, is in addition to the sum expended in money, and there ought also to be added the value of the vegetables and other articles raised from the land belonging to the establishment.
There are in the
Male 806 Female 702
The adult persons sent to the alms-house, are almost altogether incapacitated by disease or age, from gaining a livelihood for themselves. This is, however, not the case with those sent to the Bridewell and Penitentiary as vagrants, nor generally with those who are relieved as out door poor; but there are some of this last description, who are old and infirm, and among them a good proportion of children. For a specification of the diseases with which those in the alms-house are afflicted, see the following exhibit.
Diseased Men. Diseased Women.
The children in the alms-house, on the first day of April last, were boys, 320, girls, 233, total 553. Infant children at nurse, 139; boys in the penitentiary, 32. The children belonging to the families supported as out door poor, allowing two to each family, are estimated at 4,000, making a total of 4,724. A large proportion of those children (believed to be at least three fourths) who receive the public support, are the offspring of foreign paupers located in this city.
The average number of paupers in the alms-house from the 31st of January 1822, to the first of February, 1823, the day on which the last years accounts were closed was 1,547, and they cost sixty-three cents per week each, equal to nine cents per day, or $50,908.27 per year. The maniacs at the asylum cost $2 per week, or $104 each per year. The children at nurse, out of the house, cost $1 per week each, exclusive of their clothes; the exact expense for this object, cannot be stated, as the board of some of the illegitimate children is paid by their fathers; but it may be safely estimated at $5,000 per annum. The amount of the wood, potatoes and money distributed to the out door poor, for the last year, was about $10,000.
The total expenses of the last year, except the
amount expended for transportation, removals, &c. may be stated as
The number removed by warrant, during the last year was 36. There were also 425 received and transported at the public expense, who principally belonged to the other states, and were sent to this city, because they had passed through the city on their way to other parts of the state. Those of them who had a settlement in this state, were unable to name the town in which their settlements lay; and the expense of transporting them, was preferred by the commissioners to making an appeal, should the warrant happen to be directed to the wrong town. The number received on warrant, from several towns in the state was 47.
The whole number of appeals for the last two years, were four, and they occurred in consequence of a mislocation of the town in which the paupers had their settlement, and were settled by compromise and not brought to trial. The cost of these appeals was about $100, and the cost of transporting paupers, &c. for one year, was $252.21. There were several cases in which an appeal might have been made, but the commissioners concluded that the cost and trouble of a suit, and the expense of bringing up the pauper as a witness, would be worse than supporting him until he could help himself, and therefore no appeal was made. There has been but three appeals ordered by us in two years, two of them were settled by the transporting towns and the one is still in suit.
The amount of tax raised in this city and county, for the support of the poor, is not designated in the act annually passed by the legislature for the purpose, but are blended with other subjects of expense. The estimate for that object always includes the expense of the bridewell and penitentiary. Thus the amount estimated for the alms-house, bridewell and pententiary, for the present year, was $85,000.
This city has no funds or property out of which the poor are supported, except the amount allowed from the duty on sales at auction in this city, say $10,000, annually for the support of foreign poor, and this is but a small pittance towards meeting the object, as more than half of the expenses of this county, is for the support of foreigners and poor emigrants, from this and the adjoining states, who locate themselves here. Out of the 1,526 in the alms-house, there are but 713 who belong to this city, and the principal part of them are children, and very old and infirm men and women. There are 95 from the several counties in this state; 137 from other states, and 581 alien foreigners. The families assisted as out door poor, are stated by the commissioners, to be composed principally of Irish emigrants, as are also the vagrants sent to the bridewell and penitentiary; in fact we are literally over-run with this description of paupers. There is also another description of paupers, with which this city is very much troubled, to wit: Old and decrepid sailors who are laboring under some incurable disease, and are therefore unable to gain a livelihood by their profession. The government of the United States have made an arrangement with the New-York hospital, for the reception into that institution of sixty diseased mariners, and no more. They therefore reject all who apply after the aforesaid number is complete; and they have also adopted a rule, that all those who have been received and who shall be pronounced incurable, by the physicians of the establishment, shall be discharged; consequently all those who are refused admission into the institution, as well as those discharged from it as incurable, must be taken to our alms-house, or left to perish in the streets. It may be said, however, that the law gives the city a remedy, by permitting it to require a bond from every alien passenger, conditioned that he shall not become chargeable for two years thereafter. This is admitted, and the city avails itself of the permission in every possible case; but the law is evaded in instances without number, for which there is no remedy. It is almost an every day occurrence for vessels from Halifax, St. Johns and other possessions of the British in North America, to land passengers at some of the eastern ports, generally at Fairfield in Connecticut, about 60 miles from this city, who proceed on foot to this place, and mix with the crowd unobserved. It was recently discovered that two of these vessels who had cleared out for New-York, via Fairfield had landed about 100 of this description of persons at the latter place, and then proceeded to this city with their baggage, &c. There is not the same facility here for discovering paupers, that they have in other countries, and no precautions that can be adopted, will prevent their introduction; nor is it possible, with a population of 130,00 souls, to ascertain their situation or place of residence, until they apply for relief, and that generally first occurs during the winter months, when the means of sending them where they belong, even if within this state, are in a manner cut off, or the expense for their transportation would be so great as to make it equal to the relief afforded them.
accounts, expended in each of the following years, for the Alms-house,
Bridewell and Penitentiary, to wit:
The poor, or alms-house in this county, has cost us, including the land attached, about half a million of dollars, which sum is included in the city debt, of 1,300,000. The management of the alms-house, bridewell and penitentiary is placed by the common council, under the care of five commissioners. Four of these gentlemen receive no compensation whatever, for their services, and the fifth is the superintendent, who resides at the house, and has the direction of its internal concerns. There are in addition, a clerk, a physician, a surgeon, three stewards and a matron, who resides in the house and receive small salaries per annum. There are also a number of inferior officers, selected from among the most intelligent part of the paupers, such as orderly men, and women for each room, gate-keepers, &c. &c. who are accountable for the conduct of those under their charge to the superintendent.
It is inferred from the report of the committee, on the subject of the poor laws, that a leading object was to effect an equalization of the burthens upon the several counties, and at the same time to endeavour to lessen the evils of pauperism, by removing its cause. In reference to the operation of the present laws, it may be expected, that each county shall designate such parts of them as may be presumed to have an unequal operation, and pursuant to this conclusion, I shall endeavor to call your attention to the several provisions that have appeared to me as operating unequally and oppressive upon this county. 1. The second section of the act of 1813 (vol. 2, page 279) provides that the renting of a tenament, of the yearly value of $30, &c. shall constitute a legal settlement. This as a general measure, is by no means equitable, as in many of the counties, a pretty decent establishment may be rented for $30, while in this city, the occupation of a cellar or some wretched hovel, can scarcely be had for that sum. We therefore propose, that this part of the law be so amended, that settlers shall actually, and bona fide have rented and occupied a tenement of the yearly value of $100 or upwards. 2. By the seventh section of the same act, as amended, (see session 44, page 247) paupers are to be conveyed to the constable of the first town or city, in the adjoining county, and so from the constable in one county, to the first constable in the next adjacent county, &c. A difficulty frequently occurs in directing the warrants of removal occasioned by the ignorance of the pauper, as to the name of the town in which he has gained a settlement; for although he can generally name the county in which he has resided, he is frequently at a loss for the name of the town. This inconvenience, however, is not experienced by other counties who may have paupers to remove to this city, as the name of New-York is never forgotten by them, be their claims upon us ever so doubtful. To avoid these embarrassments, it is proposed that if the warrant of removal be correct, as to the county, although by the ignorance of the pauper it may be directed to the wrong town, it shall be the duty of the overseers of the town, to which it is directed, to ascertain the place of settlement, of such pauper, within such county, and accordingly endorse the warrant, and see that it is duly executed; Or perhaps as a general provision, the warrant might in all cases be addressed to the sheriff of the county, who shall be bound to send the pauper to the town, in such county where his last place of legal settlement was. 3. The act of 1817, provides (see session 40, page 176) that persons removing from other states, or from Upper or Lower Canada, and likely to become chargeable on any city or town in this state, shall remove directly to the place where they may have their legal settlement out of this state; but by the act of 1821, (session 44, page 208) it is provided that in case it shall appear that the pauper first came into this state through the city of New-York, and not having a settlement in this state, then such pauper shall be transported directly to that city. This provision of the law, we are unable to account for, at least upon any thing like equitable principles: For why this city should be particularly designated as a depot for paupers, more than any other, merely because they crossed it in their way to the other parts, is beyond our comprehension. Our local situation is such, that persons coming from the counties and states to the south and west of us, as well as those arriving from other countries, must of necessity pass through the city of New-York, to enter this state; and why we should be put to the trouble and vexation, of providing for this description of persons, sent to our care by the other counties, while the counties bordering on the lakes are exempted from receiving the paupers, sent out by the British government, to people the Canadas, who find their way through those counties to this city, is also beyond our comprehension.
To remedy this inequality, in the present law, it is proposed, that it be so amended, that if any person shall come from any other state, or from Upper or Lower Canada, to reside in any city or town in this state, and shall be likely to become chargeable, and not having gained a local settlement, they shall be removed directly to the place where their last settlement was out of this state, and that that part of the law, which designates New-York, in particular, be repealed. 4. By the sixteenth section of the act, notice is to be given to the overseers of any city or town, if any poor person shall be sick or lame, so that he cannot be conveniently removed to the place where he belongs, &c. It is proposed that the notice required to be given by the sixteenth section, as aforesaid, shall in all cases be accompanied by an examination of such poor person under oath, in order that it may be correctly ascertained in what manner such person gained his settlement, and whether there are not others who are bound to pay for his support, besides the public functionaries. Several other matters have occurred, as useful amendments to the present laws; but I am fearful this communication has already exceeded the proper bounds, and I have therefore procured a law to be drafted, containing the amendments that have suggested themselves to my mind, and which is herewith transmitted, and respectfully submitted for your consideration. There has been so much said and written by men of talents, on the subject of pauperism, of late years, and it has so much engaged the attention of the American public, that nothing new can be expected to be added. That it is a growing evil in our state, cannot be denied, and it is equally true, that the cause or causes of the evil are so deeply rooted among us, that perhaps it may be impossible to remove them. The remedy which has most been insisted on as a preventive, is the supplying of the poor with such conscription of labor as their talents and abilities will permit them to perform. This, if it could be effected, would no doubt tend to reduce the number of applications for public bounty. But the chief difficulty lies, in furnishing suitable labor for this description of persons, as those who apply for or require assistance, are principally such as have no mechanical profession, and consequently they are unable to perform any thing except the ordinary avocations of a laborer. Employment, therefore, cannot be furnished, particularly during the winter months, when assistance is the most required, and I am led to believe, from the experience of the managers of a house of industry for females, which was in operation here a few years since, and from the result of the manufactures, performed at the state prison, about the same period, that employment unattended, with pecuniary loss, cannot be provided. For in the first instance alluded to, the whole capital of the institution was sunk, after a few years trial, although the persons employed were only paid about half the usual price for their labor.-- And in the second, the articles manufactured, did not net to the public, more than the first cost of the raw materials of which they were made. A house of refuge and industry however, established a few miles from the city, to which the youths, convicted of larceny and vagrancy, might be removed, after serving a term of short imprisonment, would be attended with lasting benefit and utility. Here they might be taught some useful art, their morals improved, and their habits corrected. Here, there would be no odium attached to them, and their servitude would only amount to an ordinary apprenticeship, free from the vice and temptation to which others are exposed, and in a few years the labor performed in the establishment by farming it out upon the principle now adopted in the state prison, would nearly cover the whole annual expenditures.-- This city has already too many burthens upon it, however, to admit of an increase of debt for this object, and the state which is nearly as much interested, in the the measure, as the city, does not, it is feared, feel sufficiently the necessity of it, to induce a helping hand toward bringing it into operation.
Idleness and a total inattention to frugality are among the principal sources of pauperism. There is a natural propensity in men to inaction, and therefore it is, that so many of those who are compelled to depend upon their own exertions, for subsistence, become paupers. Every man however, has a principle within himself, which if not destroyed by mental or vicious causes, urge him to the full exertion of his faculties for the prevention of this catastrophe. A definition of this principle, may be given in two sentences, to wit: The desire of fame and independence, and the conscious feeling of shame, and fear of want. These are, in my opinion, the main and leading stimulants, that prevent people from becoming paupers; and whatever may tend to lessen this necessary excitement in the human mind, is a cause of the evil we are deprecating. There may be many things which have a tendency to eradicate from the mind the natural and honorable feelings alluded to, but no one vice within the range of my observation, has so much contributed to effect it as the use of spirituous liquors. It is the foundation upon which the pauperism of this country is built, and the cause of a large proportion of that, now existing among us: and, what adds to the evil, is the ample provision for the needy in our establishment of alms-houses, and benevolent institutions. It is these that eradicate from the human mind, every fear of want, and encourage a reliance upon others, instead of inducing the poor to rely upon their own industry and economy for support; thus blunting those feelings of independence and fear of want, which ought to be encouraged instead of repressed.
These evils may, in a measure, be remedied, and a gradual decrease of pauperism (produced by the inordinate use of spirituous liquors) effected. The article ought to be rendered more inaccessible to the consumer, by an increase of its price. A heavy excise ought to be raised from the wholesale dealers and a license to retail any quantity less than 30 gallons, ought to be fixed at $30, and to sell, to be drank in the house, either raw or mixed, not less than $50. In addition to this, no able bodied person ought to be permitted to receive the public bounty by the way of alms, and in all cases, where it is practicable, the building of poor houses ought to be discouraged. With these provisions persevered in, the crime of pauperism could be much lessened, if not entirely eradicated; but every thing must depend upon the view, which may be taken of the subject by the legislature, to whose wisdom and discernment, we are bound to look for a remedy for this growing evil. [Letter from S. Allen, Esqu. the mayor of New-York.]
The following extract from the report made to the common council of the city of New-York, on the 26th of May, 1823, by the superintendent of the alms-house in New-York, is in coincidence with the foregoing letter from the mayor of that city.
It appears that 3359 persons have been admitted during the year, ending on the 1st of April, 1823--1548 discharged, 285 died, and 1526 remaining.
Among whom there were 486 men; 487 women; 320 boys, and 233 girls--total 1526, belonging to the following places: City of New-York, 713; State, 95; United States, 137; England, 89; Scotland, 38; Ireland, 349; Germany, 72; France, 14; West Indies, 11; and Africa, 8.
on the 1st of April, 1823: men, 78; women, 35 -- Total. 113.