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Abstract (Lang: English):
The Panic of 1819, reinforced by the simultaneous spread of the Second Great Awakening, transformed American attitudes towards charity. As the "hard times" began, politicians, editors, and the clergy spoke of the need for all to help one another in a crisis that afflicted many who were both "prudent" and "industrious." However, under the pressures of unprecedented financial collapse and wide-spread unemployment, both political and religious leaders began blaming financial failures on the victims' own laziness or extravagance. Instead of financial assistance, the poor were given lectures on the importance of virtue and religion. Soon, a long-established tradition of community support for the poor gave way to a new but also long-lasting habit of blaming poverty on low moral standards and weak character, an attitude that persisted through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.