Down and Out, on the Road: The Homeless in American History by Kenneth L. Kusmer

By Kenneth L. Kusmer

Masking the full interval from the colonial period to the overdue 20th century, this e-book is the 1st scholarly heritage of the homeless in the United States. Drawing on assets that come with files of charitable organisations, sociological reports, and diverse memoirs of previously homeless folks, Kusmer demonstrates that the homeless were an important presence at the American scene for over 200 years. He probes the background of homelessness from numerous angles, displaying why humans develop into homeless; how charities and public experts handled this social challenge; and the varied ways that diverse category, ethnic, and racial teams perceived and answered to homelessness. Kusmer demonstrates that, regardless of the typical belief of the homeless as a deviant crew, they've got continually had a lot in universal with the common American.Focusing at the thousands who suffered downward mobility, Down and Out, at the highway offers a distinct view of the evolution of yank society and increases anxious questions on the repeated failure to stand and resolve the matter of homelessness.

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During the antebellum period the number of homeless children also increased in Philadelphia, as unmarried women and impoverished widows abandoned their offspring when they could no longer afford to care for them. All too often these women themselves became homeless. 29 Along the eastern seaboard, more of the homeless now moved from city to city. As a result, the old settlement laws, requiring nonresident paupers to be transported back to their place of origin, became more difficult to enforce.

48 Wherever they went, the homeless had to go on foot. 49 As a result, the problem of vagabondage and begging was largely restricted to the emerging large cities and to smaller communities in New England and the Middle Atlantic states, where the roads connecting towns were well developed. The frequent encounter of city dwellers with the homeless during the antebellum era was not an experience shared by all Americans. In , over  percent of the nation still lived in rural areas and small towns, many of which were vital communities with relatively little poverty.

The conflict of principles may have led many to give to beggars with “a half formed resolution,” as one observer noted in , but since many still believed that beggary or poverty in general would never be completely expunged from society, the impulse to give alms often won out. Provided beggars had no apparent criminal or violent intent, some religious writers even viewed them positively, as examples of humble poverty and patience in the face of the will of an all-knowing deity. 22     and  were years of transition from a preindustrial society to one dominated by the mill and the factory; from a fundamentally agricultural nation to one in which cities, if not yet dominant, were assuming a new importance—especially in the North.

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