■ “Lame/impotent/old/blind” were sent to an almshouse.
● Clergy controlled these houses that would take care of people with
■ “Able poor” were sent to a workhouse.
■ “Idle poor/beggars” could be sent to house of correction.
○ The unit of control was the local parish, which was responsible for enforcing the
law (local control).
○ Children of poor parents could be removed from the home and sent to
○ Property owners paid the paris to care for the poor.
○ Aid was only available in the place of one’s settlement.
● History of social welfare
○ Before Civil War, the US did not have a formal welfare state.
■ We didn’t want a King.
○ Based on the Elizabethan Poor Laws, US society was based on the principle that
local communities should be responsible for their own poor and needy.
○ Indoor relief favored over outdoor relief in most cases.
■ Indoor relief: institutions (almshouses, workhouses, correctional facilities).
■ Outdoor relief: money, food, clothing, etc.
○ Thought giving benefits would decrease the motivation to work.
● Following the Civil War
○ Civil War pensions were awarded to Union soldiers...first large scale social
welfare program in US history.
○ But there were catches: African Americans excluded, Confederate soldiers
○ Long process of proving eligibility, but once proven, survivors could also receive
○ Freedman’s Bureau provided basic support for freed slaves.
■ Developed and funded under Lincoln.
■ Helped families reunite, helped with education, which the Bureau
considered to helpful for employement.
■ Monitoring contracts between African Americans and whites, especially
regarding land use and farming.
■ Andrew Johnson vetoed bill to renew Freedman’s Bureau in 1866
because he believed it encroached on state’s rights and offered too much
■ Lost most of its funding by 1869, and the program was abandoned in
○ After this, no expansion of welfare state for several decades.
○ Following the Civil War, there was a massive migration to industrial northern
○ Inflow of immigrants in early 1900s added to urban strain.