Hon. Robert Treat Paine's Address.
The system of charitable work in Boston, which received its impulse from the organization of charities in London 30 years ago, is today the most perfect in the world. It aims to enlist personal effort and sympathy to cooperate with organization. Whether such an attempt can be successfully made in cities as large as New York and London is an unsolved problem.
One of the greatest obstacles to charity today is the opposition of the working class. Through their leaders they demand justice and refuse charity, maintaining that organized charity is the cause of much of their distress.
Many leaders in charitable work disparage methods that are now employed. For example, the system of out-door relief, which we have here in Massachusetts, has been abolished in New York and other cities. At the same time in England there are advocates for a plan by which the government shall pension all poor persons over 65 years of age. It is hard to say whether such a plan is wise, but it is certain that if it were adopted, it would have to be administered with great care.
Various phases of the employment problem are continually met. Shall the children of helpless widows be supported at home or put in public institutions? Shall the wife and children of able-bodied men out of work be cared for? Shall industrial societies fill the places of strikers with applicants for work. The societies of Boston find difficulty in solving all these problems.
The advisability of admitting the cheap labor of foreign countries is much discussed. Phillips Brooks always believed that our country was free to all. On the other hand, many maintain that the protection of our industries demands the restriction of immigration.
It is remarkable that very few applications for aid have been made to industrial societies in Boston this winter, while last year 9500 men were given work. The experience of last year shows that it is advisable to keep the problems of charity and of aid for the unemployed strictly apart.
In closing his remarks Mr. Paine paid a tribute to Phillips Brooks, and said that just such intelligent and energetic men are needed to solve the problems that are confronting the people of today.