Back to the Past

Poverty has been around as long as the human race has. Where there’s a winner, there is always a loser. Economically, the winners are the rich, and the losers are the poor, or those living in poverty. “Oh, this person’s parents can’t buy this new video game, they must be poor!” Not necessarily. Living in poverty mean that a family cannot buy food or provide basic needs for the children-or themselves.

It may be hard to believe, but there are many people right here in the United States living in poverty. Thankfully, people have been working, since the 1800s, to fix this issue. Before the early mid-1800s American policies regarding poverty were focus on outdoor relief; food, firewood, and small amounts of money called alms. The wealthy and local governments did this because the of a sense of community responsibility. State poor laws, required towns to take care of their poor. But after the early mid-1800s a new idea arose; “What if, instead of just letting them to continue being poor, we help them get themselves out of their economic states?!” Thus, the Antipoverty movement was born!

In 1817, the New York’s Society for the Prevention of Pauperism, collected the poor under one roof, oversaw their actions, and forced them to work. The state of New York formalized this policy in 1824 with the County Poorhouse Act, which required every county in the state to build at least on institution to house its poor, and, preferably, to teach them how to escape poverty. There was also the New York Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor, in the 1840s, and the Children’s Aid Society in the 1850s.

The Children’s Aid Society, (CAS) attempted to reform the environment of poor children, especially by sending them out of the cities into the rural American West. This idea was formulated by Charles Loring Brace. The idea was to send poor children, to a family in the West, who would teach them good habits, as well as raise them. These families were eager for help on their farms, in fact, some only saw the children as laborers. The children were called “Orphan Train Riders,” and were commonly between a few months to 14 years old.

As earlier stated, poverty has been around since humanity has existed, and still exists today, in the US of A. There are still orphanages, shelters of the poor and homeless, even something that didn’t exist in the 1800s, food stamps. Renamed SNAP in 2008, this is a government program that helps those on low income get the food they need.

There are ways everyone can help end poverty for good, you can donate to institutions and organizations, you can volunteer, you can donate canned goods, you can help teach, education is a very powerful thing, with the right education a child in poverty can grow to become a successful career man or women. You don’t even have to look very far, look around in your own community! We can all make a difference if we try.