ShareWhen the pilgrims came to America, they brought with them these harsh and judgmental attitudes toward the poor. Only those deemed “worthy” of assistance would receive it, and the local town elders would be the ones to decide who was worthy and in what kind and manner the charity would be distributed to them. Poverty was a grisly, dehumanizing experience. Some people were deemed unworthy to receive charity and were reduced to begging in the streets.
The provision of charity was made as unpleasant as possible, with the idea that this would discourage dependency. If you were receiving relief, you could lose all your personal property, the right to vote or move, and you were often made to wear a large “P” on your clothing! (Read more.)