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View Diary: Entitlements and "Grand Bargains": Life Before Social Security Through the Lens of Leo McCarey (41 comments)

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  •  Auctioning off the Poor- put up for bid at auction (6+ / 0-)
       People who could not support themselves (and their families) were put up for bid at public auction.

        In an unusual type of auction, the pauper was sold to the lowest bidder (the person who would agree to provide room and board for the lowest price) -- usually this was for a specific period of a. year or so.

        The person who got the contract got the use of the labor of the pauper for free in return for feeding, clothing, housing and providing health care for the pauper and his/her family. This was actually a form of indentured servitude. It sounds a lot like slavery -- except that it was technically not for the pauper's entire lifetime. And it had many of the perils of slavery.

        The welfare of the paupers depended almost entirely upon the kindness and fairness of the bidder. If he was motivated only by a desire to make the maximum profit off the "use" of the pauper, then concern for "the bottom line" might result in the pauper being denied adequate food, or safe and comfortable shelter, or even necessary medical treatment. And there often was very little recourse for protection against abuse. (See scan of an authentic record of an auction in 1832 in Sandown NH.)  

    http://www.poorhousestory.com/...

    "Who are these men who really run this land? And why do they run it with such a thoughtless hand?" David Crosby

    by allenjo on Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 08:21:15 AM PST

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