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EIGHTH ANNUAL REPORT, 1871.
they select other functionaries. Most of the answers to the questions put to them by the Secretary, abound in these qualities. The Secretary adds to the value of this mass of evidence and testimony, by a judicious analysis of it, and by his own cautious inferences.
The prevailing sense of their various opinions is that a proper pauper system for a State like ours, should be based upon outdoor relief, strictly supervised and carefully administered, with the almshouse as a necessary adjunct.
The chief features of such a system are, first, temporary relief, to prevent breaking up families by tiding them over uncommon difficulties, to keep their children and youth from becoming paupers. Next, discrimination between those who are being swept towards pauperism by accidental forces and those who tend towards it by hereditary qualities, or by lack of the degree of bodily and mental power absolutely necessary for self-support clear through old age.
The first must, if possible, be put in the way of taking care of themselves. The latter must be supported through life in such manner as will give them all the enjoyment to which they are justly entitled, and hold them to such duties as they can perform.
The stream of social life must have its dregs. In the present state of things no better disposition of them is to be expected than consignment to a well regulated almshouse; and no better models for the proper care and employment of paupers can be found than in the country poors' farms of New England.
THE SANE STATE PAUPERS Of Massachusetts are now provided for by a joint method of out-door relief and of almshuuse support. The first is given through the Visiting Agency for the State sick poor; the second is given mainly at the Tewksbury Almshouse, which is the great pauper receptacle of the State.
OUT-DOOR RELIEF.-LOCAL RELIEF. Formerly there were but few dependent persons in our borders who, having no settlement in any town, and therefore no claim upon the local authorities, sought it at the hands of the
LOCAL AND OUT-DOOR RELIEF.
State. Those few, except certain lunatics, were locally supported by towns and cities; and the State repaid the expense thereof.
In consequence of the increase of numbers and the abuses of the system, the State gathered her dependents into three great almshouses, and gave towns and cities the option of sending State paupers who should seek their aid to those establishments, or to the hospital at Rainsford Island (by special provision), or to keep them at their own charge. Rainsford Island being practically inaccessible by many of the towns which were, nevertheless, taxed to support it, they were obliged to commit pauper applicants summarily to the State almshouses, in order to avoid being burdened with them for an indefinite period. This summary commitment, in all weathers, proved harmful to many sick and feeble persons, and positively fatal to a few. The legislature, therefore, humanely provided that towns and cities might retain and relieve such State paupers as should be sick or unfit to be removed, and charge to the State as much as they would have cost if sent to the hospital at Rainsford Island. Certain conditions, however, were attached to this privilege, with a view to prevent the evils and abuses of the old system which had mainly led to the erection of the State almshouses. This was the first step towards a return to the system of local support, with repayment therefor, to the towns affording it; but it was taken cautiously.
The intent of reëstablishing this mode of local, or out-door relief, was, first, to encourage local overseers of the poor to treat State paupers with due attention and care, by providing that the towns should be repaid for all expenses so incurred, not exceeding the cost of similar patients at Rainsford Island Hospital. Second, to enable the State to discontinue the said hospital, which had proved very costly, but entirely inadequate to the purposes for which it was intended. Third, to effect an arrangement more comfortable for the poor, and less complex and costly to the State.
The overseers, on the other hand, were held to perform certain duties, and to comply with certain conditions, which are set forth in another part of this Report,
EIGHTH ANNUAL REPORT, 1871.
THE STATE ALMSHOUSES. There were 1,379 inmates of the State almshouses on the 30th of September, 1870. During the year, 2,271 others had refuge in them, making in all 3,650 to whom they have afforded shelter. Some remain a few days or weeks, get recruited, and sally forth upon another venture for free and easy vagabondage ; others remain, stranded—hopelessly wrecked for life. The average number of inmates has been 1,556, but of this number only 931 were paupers,—a fraction less than the average for the preceding year. The actual number of paupers, September 30, 1871, was 790, who were then distributed as follows: at Tewksbury 639, at Monson 66, and at Bridgewater 85.
The number and cost of inmates of all classes are thus stated by the Superintendents :
The average annual cost of the whole being $105.73. At Tewksbury, the calculation is based on the money actually drawn from the State's treasury, less what was repaid to it by the institution. It is difficult, however, upon any basis, to ascertain the exact cost of support at this establishment. The labor of the paupers, especially of the lunatics, is adding something every year to the value of the farm. The Superintendent thinks that if this were taken in account, and certain sums not necessarily connected with the support of paupers were excluded, "the average weekly cost would not exceed $1.63, which is less than in any year since 1864."
It is the same in some respects with the other two. The inspectors of the Bridgewater almshouse say: "If the amount earned and paid into the treasury were deducted, the cost per
week would be somewhat less than $1.86. The amount received for inmates' labor appears to be growing less every year.”
The inspectors of the Monson establishment say " the total products of the farm in addition to what had been consumed before taking the inventory) are estimated at $7,340.12, an amount indicating profitableness in State farming ; but when we take into account the amount invested in land, stock, agricultural tools, etc., together with the cost of help (for this is an institution mainly for children who cannot do much at farming), the 'profits' are not so apparent.”
Thus we see that it is not only difficult to ascertain the exact cost of support at the almshouses, but equally difficult to find at which one the cost of support is the least; because the circumstances are not the same in the different establishments. At Bridgewater a large proportion are adults in full health ; and not only large consumers, but requiring careful oversight and control. At Monson most of the inmates are nonproducers, but abundant consumers.
It is manifest, however, that considering the cost of the most frugal fare, even in our country towns, and the amount of nursing and extra care required by the inmates of the almshouses, there must be systematic frugality in the administration of all the establishments, in order to feed, warm, clothe and care for the inmates at an average cost of about two dollars a week.
IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED. What is now most needed in these establishments, is removal of the incongruous elements in each. The benevolent spirit of the law which provided the State Primary School at Monson, required that children should not be affected by the corrupt influences of pauperism. But to rear up children in an establishment, more than a fourth of whose inmates are paupers, and declare that they shall not be affected by the evil influences of pauperism, is like licensing slaughter-houses and bone factories in a town, and declaring that the inhabitants shall not be affected by the unwholesome odors thereof. This Board has