The Transformation Of Charity In Postrevolutionary New England (New England Studies)

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9781555531232: The Transformation Of Charity In Postrevolutionary New England (New England Studies)
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In 1780 New England supported fifty charitable institutions. By 1820 that number had burgeoned to nearly two thousand. The increase, argues Conrad Edick Wright, was part of a frenzy of organization that occurred in New England during the postrevolutionary era. His book is both a case study on the modernization of the United States during the early years of the republic and a detailed account of the numerous endeavors, both popular and elite, to aid, evangelize, and reform those in need.
Wright offers a provocative interpretation of this little-known terrain in social aid institutional history. Unlike radical historians who view philanthropy as a form of social control, he demonstrates that the "charitable revolution" originated in the widespread aspirations of postrevolutionary New Englanders to imitate the English by establishing benevolent institutions of their own. He argues that the relationship between socioeconomic circumstances and the emergence of institutional beneficence is neither as simple nor as direct as some historians have indicated. Contradicting cause-and-effect interpretations, Wright asserts that organized charity developed at a time when need was constant or diminishing. In fact, he says, charitable institutions sometimes needed to search actively for beneficiaries. Undeterred, they redefined their missions and discovered new charitable causes.
The Transformation of Charity in Postrevolutionary New England includes three substantial appendices that will constitute the basic reference for anyone interested in charity and reform in New England before 1820, including "A Census of Charitable Organizations in New England, 1657-1817."

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