Imágenes de páginas



Eighth Annual Conference of Charities,

HELD AT BOSTON, JULY 25-30, 1881.


Delivered July 25th, 1881.

After the organization of the Boston Conference, His Excellency JOHN D. LONG, Governor of Massachusetts, was introduced, and spoke as follows:

I am grateful for the courtesy which accords to me the pleasure of sincerely though briefly welcoming the National Conference of Charities to Massachusetts. Especially so far as its delegates come from outside her own borders and represent other jurisdictions, our Commonwealth is glad of an opportunity to greet them, to exhibit to them her public institutions, and to receive instruction from them in the science of charity and correction. You have met together in Boston,-her political, social and commercial capital. This is her State House, in which sat Andrew, Horace Mann, and Dr. Howe-names forever associated with those causes of humanity, education and charity in which you are engaged, and to which she has never been disloyal. As you entered the hall below you saw the battle-flags of her regiments, there sacredly preserved as mementos not so much of fraternal strife as of that healthier, freer and nobler union in behalf of which they were borne by her sons to victory. The chamber in which you sit is that in which the popular branch of her General Court meets, less to make laws than to hear all causes of grievances, reform and progress, and especially to promote the general advance of that science to which you give

specific study. I should misrepresent her if, in any trite commonplaces of provincial pride I boasted of hercorrectional and charitable institutions, to the inspection of which she cordially invites your criticism and suggestion quite as much as your praise,-except perhaps in this, that they are absolutely exempt from political entanglement. For at least to this height she has attained, that in all this matter she values her edifices and appointments, her officers and managers as nothing compared with the best care and true welfare of those dependents afflicted by ills of body or of mind, or even by crime, who are her wards. And to this also, that she recognizes any gain she may have made in the science of charity and correction as only elementary, and but the threshold of the future, and so will thank you for any inspiration or enlightenment that will help her onward.

And yet how great a gain it has been, and what satisfaction it affords and justifies, when she compares the present with the pastthe separate prison for women, a very asylum and house of reformation; the state prison with its greatly increased population, yet its at once lighter and more perfect discipline, and its riddance of nearly all the old varieties of degrading punishments; the Primary School, a healthy and happy avenue through which the little pauper children of the State go speedily forth to homes; the more humane and less restraining treatment of the insane; the education even of the idiot; the giving of cars to the deaf, a tongue to the dumb, and sight to the blind! Nor let me, in inviting your attention to the charities of Massachusetts, fail to assure you how much of whatever good has resulted from them is due to private enterprise and contribution; how much has been accomplished by the forceful and telling unity of purpose and action which has come from the consolidation of these private and local beneficences into county organizations, auxiliary boards, and what in Boston is termed the Associated Charities; and especially how in our Commonwealth the women have come to the front, not only with their sympathies, which are always alive, but with the brightest business tact and administrative ability.

The causes, in behalf of which you meet, appeal so touchingly to the best sentiments of the human heart, that these spring to the lips for utterance at the very thought of your coming together-at the very sight of so much intelligence and human kindness converging from all quarters of the land, representing its centres of

need and of public spirit, and gathering to deliberate upon still better methods by which to relieve misery, to cure infirmities, to stimulate self-respect and self-support. And yet, fortunately for the poor, the insane, the criminal, you meet as a matter, not of sentiment, but of science, and practical and economic work. That certainly is the true charity, most just alike to the State and to the beneficiary, which puts him above the patronage and emasculation of alms, and in the way of self-support. That is the true correc

tion which brings home to the criminal the conviction that the wages of honest labor are better than the wages of sin. The problem is easy to state, but almost too intricate to solve, for the field on which you enter is as illimitable as the needs and frailties of humanity. Your work is one which is never accomplished, which is always expanding, and the success of which is never found in any restingplace of final results, but in the constancy of new demands and further progress. With the increase of immigration, the rapid growth of cities, the tumorous excrescences alike of wealth and poverty, and the inroads of ignorance into even the older and more advanced States, the problem is never solved, its intricacies only shift. In welcoming you, therefore, let me also, in the name of the Commonwealth, and of her unfortunate, her poor and infirm in mind and body, to whose bettering your session will be devoted, thank you for what you have done and are doing. The State must always needs move slowly, and your inquiries and observations are the best forerunner of its legislation. The myriad fingers of private benevolence and activity that meet the necessities which spring like weeds, yet lose half their value if not directed by the best intelligence and coöperation. What is impulse and misdirection it is yours to organize into steady principles and forces. To you we look for fresh methods of staying pauperism, so that we shall not have it to maintain; of preventing intemperance, so that we shall not have its intolerable and degrading burden to bear; of reforming the criminal, so that we shall not have him to punish. And for your part in all this perpetually recurring, yet always advancing work, I only represent the gratitude of the people when I thank you and wish for you in this Conference and in all your endeavors successful and illuminating progress.

It is for me not to make any specific observations, but only to extend to you this general word of greeting. You have come to Massachusetts at the time of her summer glory. Those of you

who come from the interior of the country will miss the boundlessness of your prairies and wheat fields; but you will find the cool shadows of woods and hills, and will taste the fresh and salty breath of the sea. And be assured, to whatever she has, whether of natural beauty, of historical associations, or of social science, Massachusetts cordially welcomes you, alike for your own sake and for that of the enlightened and public-spirited constituencies you represent, and especially because you are of those of whom it is said, "Blessed is he that considereth the poor."

The PRESIDENT: We owe your Excellency thanks for the clear manner in which you have laid before us the work of the Conference. We shall hope to be honored by your presence at such times as your duties may permit.

The preliminary business having been transacted, Mr. F. B. SANBORN, of Concord, President of the Conference, gave the annual


Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the Conference:

In appearing before you to open this important session of our Conference with an address reviewing to some extent the events of the year since we last met in Cleveland, I am reminded of the time, something more than seven years ago, when this Conference, then very small in numbers, met for the first time in the city of New York (May 20 and 22, 1874). At that meeting only the States of New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Connecticut were represented by delegates, but communications were received from the State Boards of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Michigan and Kansas, and the State Charities Aid Association of New York, then recently organized, was also represented. I see before me. this morning several of those who then met with us to plant the seed of this and of future Conferences,-when, as we hope, every State in our Union and all the provinces of Canada shall be officially represented in a convention for which even this ancient hall would be found far too small. Since the New York meeting of 1874 we have assembled successively in Detroit (1875), in Saratoga (1876 and 1877), in Cincinnati (1878), in Chicago (1879), and in Cleveland last year. At the Cleveland Conference no less than

sixteen States were represented, and during the present week we hope to welcome in Boston the official or the volunteer representatives of more than twenty States and Provinces.

Before a constituency so extensive as this, including a population of at least thirty millions, the first thought, in undertaking to deal with the varied questions which custom has assigned for your consideration, is of the insufficiency of any mind, however gifted and experienced, to present this vast body of philanthropy in due method and proportion. My predecessor, Gen. Brinkerhoff, in his address at Cleveland, accomplished more in this way than would be possible for me even to attempt; and, moreover, we have so divided the work of our Conference among the standing committees that your president is relieved in some degree of the labor so ably performed by Gen. Brinkerhoff. I shall, therefore, with your permission, leave to those six committees dealing respectively with (1) State Charities, (2) City Charities, (3) Immigration, (4) Crime and Penalties, (5) the Care of Children, and (6) Imbecility and Idiocy, the introduction of general topics pertaining to each of those subjects; and shall address myself to certain topics not included in the assignment of committees, or else having a common relation to several of those committees. Such a topic, for instance, is the broad question of Insanity and the relations of the State to its. treatment; and as this happens to be a matter which for some years has been specially forced upon my attention by official requirements, let me first draw your attention to insanity in its relations to the State and to individuals.

More than any single evil which attacks our modern civilization, individually and socially, insanity is to be encountered and checked, if it cannot be overcome, before we can avoid some of the worst features of pauperism, disease and crime. Itself a disease, it has been characterized with much force by the late Dr. Howe, as "a feature of developing civilization;" though that great philanthropist goes on to deny that it is an inherent and essential condition of civilization. Whether this be so or not, there can be no doubt that the number of the insane in the United States has greatly increased within the last twenty years, and increased, too, out of all proportion to the advance in our general population, large as that has been. Our statistical secretary (Mr. F. H. WINES) will be prepared to show you, no doubt, in the report which he will present next Wednesday, what is the whole number of the insane among

« AnteriorContinuar »