Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Americans before the Civil War (regardless of race, creed, class, or gender) were not strangers to the complexities involved with charitable giving, and the obligations they entailed. They, like other societies over time and space, sought charitable actions that enhanced corporate identity in public or private life, or as Benjamin Franklin later identified those gifts that enhanced the “public good.” Pursuit of the public good, however, resulted in a myriad of negative outcomes that constrained personal liberty through institutional confinement, degrading labor, and physical punishment. By the eve of the Civil War many Americans were just as divided about the meaning of charitable action as they were over slavery. This dissertation retells the story of American charity as a story of shifting charitable obligations between benefactors whose priorities included new theories about poverty, wealth, and state, and minors who because of their age often became beneficiaries against their will.

Date

10-24-2019

Committee Chair

Isenberg, Nancy

Available for download on Thursday, October 22, 2026

Share

COinS